West Pymble survived a late surge from North Sydney United Red to secure a one-all draw at Cammeray Oval on Saturday afternoon.
Both sides entered the match sitting at the top end of the table, with North Sydney unbeaten in the opening four rounds and occupying first place, while West Pymble sat three points further back after two wins, one draw and a loss.
The home side were intent on continuing their unbeaten run as strike duo Graeme Neilly and Marcus Bennett looked to break through the West Pymble defence with slick combination play. This pressure created a series of corner for North Sydney, but despite a number of strong deliveries, West Pymble goalkeeper Ian Ladkin was not tested.
The visitors posed a threat of their own down the flanks, as wingers Tim Davis and Nigel Taylor used their pace to play off of target man Chris Fielder up front. Taylor looked likely to create a goal in the tenth minute, but after driving through the North Sydney defence his cutback found nothing but empty space in the box.
Ladkin was forced into a strong save to deny Cameron McLean, after the North Sydney winger received a shortly taken free-kick inside the penalty area and fired a shot goalward from a narrow angle.
Kam Bhabra came off the bench for the home side and nearly made an immediate impact, delivering a pinpoint cross to Neil Moriarty but the winger could not get enough power on his header.
As half time approached West Pymble launched forward on a swift counter-attack through Tim Davis, dribbling from inside his own half before picking out Kevin Johnson’s supporting run. Johnson’s deflected shot could not be kept out by North Sydney goalkeeper Michael Doyle, sending the visitors into half-time with the lead.
Neither side was willing to give any advantage to their opposition in the second half, with every tackle fiercely contested. Bhabra tried to find an equaliser for North Sydney with a shot from distance, but despite making a good connection the ball sailed just wide of the goal.
West Pymble could not find a second to dent the home side’s confidence, and they eventually levelled the scores in the 69th minute. A well-hit corner to the back post was met by the jump of Moriarty, who this time had enough power and direction on his header to find the net.
The momentum swung sharply towards North Sydney in the closing stages, with Bennett being denied by a superb one-handed save from Ladkin and Paul Crean hitting the crossbar with a chip shot.
However, there was not enough time for a winning goal, extending North Sydney’s unbeaten run but seeing Lindfield move to the top after a 7-0 win over Chatswood Rangers. West Pymble have not been beaten in their last four matches, and now sit fourth on goal difference ahead of Lane Cove and Wahroonga.
North Sydney United Red 1 (Neil Moriarty 69’)
West Pymble 1 (Kevin Johnson 39’)