A dominant second half performance from Sydney United helped the New South Welshman to win their third successive Friendship Cup on Sunday afternoon, beating a tired Melbourne Knights side 5-0 at Knights Stadium.
The visitors lead at the break with a slender 1-0 margin, courtesy of a Mark Cindic goal, who coolly placed his effort past Knights goalkeeper Michael O’Farrell after a brilliant through ball put the Sydney man through to goal.
The Knights were competitive throughout the first period, with Marth’s men managing to create a number of good chances, including one from Stipo Andrijasevic in the 6th minute who curled an effort towards the far bottom corner from the edge of the box for Justin Pastfield to save.
New signing Alex Dao was ever-present during the contest, and also had a good first half opportunity but put his strike just over the cross bar from well outside the box.
Just before the 70th minute mark, United man Daniel Dragicevic double his side’s lead when he was picked out by a brilliantly weighted ball to the back post, leaving him to place a good volley past O’Farrell and into the back of the net.
Five minutes following the second goal, Sydney put the game to bed with their third of the afternoon. A defense-splitting pass forced O’Farrell to charge at the advancing opposition player, who sidestepped the shot-stopper before playing a square ball for the oncoming Matthew Bilic to slot home through a sea of legs.
Despite being out-classed in the second period – and probably showing signs of fatigue following a quick turnaround from Friday’s friendly with Green Gully – the Knight still managed create chances. James McGarry forced a fine save from Pastfield with a bullet effort which was destined for the top corner.
However, the United players pushed until the end, and bagged their fourth in the 86th minute when a cross to the back post was unfortunately deflected goal-bound by a Knights defender before Ante Tomic got the slightest of touches on the line to extend the margin of victory.
In the dying embers of the game, the contest finished how it started: with a Mark Cindric goal. Cindric doubled his tally for the afternoon – and scored Sydney’s fifth – when a defensive mishap at the back allowed the United man to slot the ball into the back of the net with relative ease from the edge of the six yard box.
Melbourne Knights’ next pre-season hit out is back again at Knights Stadium, this time to take on fellow NPL side Pascoe Vale on Wednesday January 28, with kick off at 8PM.