From Melbourne to Sydney, Darwin and Cairns there were gutsy displays and loads of goals – including one unbelievable strike - when the FFA Cup Round of 32 kicked off on Wednesday night.
Blacktown City 6 (AET) Gibbs (35') Antelmi (74', 110' 120+1') Choi (105') Mallia (114')
Sydney United 58 2 Payne (10') Mileski (13')
An unforgettable long-range strike from Danny Choi has seen Blacktown City come from two goals down to triumph 6-2 over Sydney United 58 in extra-time.Choi scored from well inside his defensive half in the first half of extra-time, blasting the ball over Sydney United goalkeeper Nenad Vekic and into the net to put Blacktown in front for the first time in the match.
Patrick Antelmi then struck twice in the second period of extra-time, completing his hat-trick, and another goal to Mitch Mallia wrapped up the hosts' maiden win on the national stage of the FFA Cup at Lily's Football Centre.
It was an incredible performance from Blacktown, especially considering they had Riku Sasaki sent off early in extra-time for a second bookable offence.
In a match involving the top two in the NPL NSW, it was leaders Sydney United who started best, with Chris Payne scoring a brilliant goal from a tight angle before captain Robert Mileski doubled their lead in the 13th minute.
But Joey Gibbs' 35th-minute strike sparked Blacktown's comeback, while Choi - who finished the match with a goal and two assists - teed up Antelmi's equaliser with 16 minutes left in regular time in one of the FFA Cup's greatest games.
Hume City 1 (4-2 on penalties) (Harris 117’)
Marconi Stallions 1 (Pavlovic 94’)
2015 Semi-Finalists Hume City are again through to the Round of 16 after scrapping past PS4 NSW NPL2 outfit Marconi Stallions on penalties at ABD Stadium.
The Sydney outfit rode their luck throughout the 90 minutes before a stunning solo strike from striker Mirjan Pavlovic in the early stages of extra-time looked to have sealed their progression to the last 16.
But the hosts grabbed an equaliser with just over three minutes remaining with Kym Harris burying a header from close range after a brilliant cross from Jeremy Walker.
Pavlovic missed from the spot in the shootout with Shane Rexhepi netting the decisive penalty as Hume emerged 4-2 winners.
But it was Hume who should have opened the scoring in the 17th minute with Kym Harris blazing over the bar from close range after a delightful through ball from Kristian Trajceski.
The Victorian outfit grew into the contest and were unfortunate not to take the lead after hitting the post on two occasions either side of half time.
Firstly, Theo Markelis showed great technique to unleash a superb volley which cannoned off the woodwork with Stallions keeper Chad Taylor stranded.
Then skipper Nick Hegarty went perilously close just five minutes into the second half, with the former Grimsby Town midfielder curling a delightful shot from outside the area which cannoned of the frame of the goal.
Hegarty should have broken the deadlock with just over 20 minutes remaining after being played through on goal but the attacker fired over with only Taylor to beat.
Rovers Darwin FC 0
Brisbane Strikers 6 Meredith (12’) Omori (14’) Henslee (18’) Newman (OG, 68’) Clulow (80’) Richter (88’)
The Brisbane outfit put aside the blow of losing the skipper before kick-off to blow Rovers away in a scintillating six-minute period in the first half at Darwin’s Football Stadium.
After an even opening 10 minutes, the visitors showed their class and clinical finishing to put the result to bed before the break.
Prolific striker Rhys Meredith started the carnage, poking home from close range after a long-range effort deflected into his path.
It took just two minutes for the ex-NSL champion to double their lead, a sweeping team move ending with Jake McLean’s defence-splitting pass finding Hiroki Omori to score.
And stand-in skipper Greig Henslee capped an astonishing six minutes, when from a corner his header went in via a deflection.At 3-0 at the break the Strikers could have cruised through the second half but they continued to push for more and made it four when Jonti Richter’s effort was turned into his own net by Dexter Newman.
Trent Clulow got his name on the scoresheet inside the last 10 minutes before Richter made it 6-0 as the Strikers equalled the biggest-ever winning margin in Westfield FFA Cup history.
And as it turned out, the loss of Strikers captain Michael Angus - who was left back at the hotel due to illness - didn’t make any difference to this one-sided affair as Strikers march on.
Far North Queensland Heat 0
Edgeworth FC 3 (McLoughlin 30’, McBreen 65’, Taylor 86’)Edgeworth FC banished last year’s disappointment at the same stage with a magnificent 3-0 win at Barlow Park in Cairns.
The visitors from NNSW NPL, who started star man Keigo Moriyasu on the bench, had the best of the early exchanges against a disappointing Heat.
Edgeworth might have had a penalty, but were rewarded for their dominance on 30 minutes.
Dylan Holz’ superb curling shot hit the post and bounced out before it was swept home by Aaron McLoughlin.
A feisty start to the second half saw a number of yellow cards to the Heat flashed by referee Casey Reibelt.
But just as Heat were looking to get back into the game, that man again Holz was set free down the left and his low cross was met at the near post by classy Daniel McBreen who angled it home to double the visitors’ lead.
With 25 minutes to go, the Eagles could taste victory. Japanese playmaker Moriyasu came on in the final 10 minutes to keep the pressure and it was his deft lay-off that led to the final goal of the night.
Brody Taylor the recipient as he coolly slotted home for the Eagles to ice a famous win in the Tropics.