15/08/2022

Sydney United celebrate advancing to the Round of 16. (Photo: Football NSW/Twitter)

It was a match full of end to end action, but home side Sydney United put three goals past the visiting Monaro Panthers on Wednesday night at the Sydney United Sports Centre to seal a spot in the Round of 16 of the Australia Cup.

The match started off with the Monaro Panthers dominating the opening stages and getting some fantastic looks at goal, but Danijel Nizic was more than up to the task, saving the shots that were on target.

Down the other end of the pitch, the home side also had some looks at finding the opener, but were unable to capitalise on the few opportunities they were creating until the 37th minute.

Patrick Antelmi would be on the receiving end of a through ball in behind the defensive line and put it past Jordan Thurtell to give United a 1-0 lead, which they would hold onto heading into half-time.

“I do love a Cup goal, especially in the Australia Cup,” Antelmi said post-match.

“But I love it in front of our home crowd. Good turnout tonight, good support, and the kids all around the field were beautiful.”  

Speaking after the game, Joe Caleta (standing in as coach as Miro Vlastelica was unable to attend due to illness) talked about just how important that opening goal was to Sydney United.

“It was a tough one. Early in the piece we were sort of backpedaling. They were on top of us in the first 10-15 minutes.

“It was a relief that we got that goal before half-time. It sort of settled us down a bit, so that was good, but obviously we had a lot of work ahead of us.”

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The task would get a little easier for Sydney United in the second half, as the home side was awarded a penalty, which Christopher Payne put past Thurtell with ease for a 2-0 lead.

The Panthers thought they had hit the scoresheet to cut the lead in half, but the goal was waved off due to a foul on Nizic. He would launch the ensuing free kick well into the attacking half, and it would be put home by Kyle Cimenti to seal the 3-0 victory.

The goal would bring a lot of excitement into the stadium as club junior kids stormed onto the pitch to celebrate with the team. Nizic sprinted down the other end to join his teammates, before giving it to the traveling Monaro Panthers on the way back to his goal.

With advancement to the Round of 16 sealed, United now turn their attention to the Waratah Cup final on Sunday at 1pm against the NWS Spirit.

The Spirit’s lengthy unbeaten run, spanning more than three months across all competitions ended last night in the Round of 32, falling to NPL Queensland side Peninsula Power.

For Caleta, that will not have any impact on how United are going to approach the match.

“We’ll play our normal game,” Caleta said.

“We’ve just come out of our weekend game against APIA, probably one of our best games, so I think we’re on a pretty good run the way we’re playing.

“We’ll just take them on as normal as our normal procedure. We don’t focus too much on them, we focus on the way we play, and at the moment I think we’re playing pretty well.”

For Sydney United, rest is going to be important given the quick turnaround, but for Antelmi, the goal is simple ahead of the Waratah Cup final.

“We want to win the silverware.”

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