APIA Leichhardt Tigers take home the 2019 NPL Men’s 1 Championship

A cheeky but audacious lob by Sean Symons was all that seperated APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC and Sydney United 58 FC as APIA took out the 2019 NPL NSW Men’s 1 Championship 2-1 AET in front of a raucous crowd of over 6500 people at Bankwest Stadium.

A tough but well fought first half saw APIA opening up proceedings with defender Paul Galimi’s towering header over the United defence in 28th minute sending fans into raptures as the Tigers ran the length of the field to celebrate with their supporters.

The Edensor Park side had multiple chances to stamp their authority in the game but it took Matthew Bilic in the 57th minute to open his side’s account as he finished a counter attack. Slotting the ball past a rock solid Ivan Necevski in front of the faithful Sydney United Supporters (mixed in with MCF from their sister club Melbourne Knights,) the intensity of the game was increased as it ended 1-1 in 90 minutes.

This was United’s 5th game in 14 days and at times the physical demands of such scheduling was made apparent as APIA took control of the game more often than note. Coming off the back off the losing end of a 7-1 rout in the FFA Cup by Western Sydney Wanderers, United pushed while APIA returned favour in equal measure.

Both teams fought hard and sometimes that determination led to some hard tackles, desperate defending and risky moves, especially from Sydney United. The usually resolute United keeper Thomas Manos was caught at the edge of his box for the second time in under five minutes in extra time and was made to pay, as a flick pass from APIA striker Chris Payne became a cheeky lob from APIA captain Sean Symons over Manos, a dagger strike right through the heart of all Sydney United fans as it bounced into the goal in the 95th minutes giving the Tigers a 2-1 lead with United all to play for.

A late push by United was not enough in this exciting and physically demanding encounter as APIA took home the spoils after 120 minutes. After all their hard work in what was perhaps one of the better NPL NSW Men’s 1 seasons, APIA Leichhardt Tigers are the 2019 NPL NSW Men’s 1 Champions as the entire team and staff ran to celebrate amongst their fans and families after the final whistle had been blown.

Congratulations to APIA Leichhardt Tigers, 2019 NPL NSW Men’s 1 Champions

(Unless noted, Photos by Jeremy Ng for Football NSW, from NPL New South Wales Facebook)

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