The Australia Cup has weaved its magic once more as semi-professional Victorian outfit Oakleigh Cannons stunned Sydney FC on Wednesday evening to book a place in the competition’s final four.
With New South Wales side Sydney United 58 having already secured a place in the semi-finals on Sunday, it means two teams from outside the A-League have advanced to the competition’s penultimate round for the first time in its history.
They will be joined by Macarthur FC and Brisbane Roar, which downed fellow A-League Men opponents Wellington Phoenix and Adelaide United in other Wednesday evening fixtures, 2-0 and 2-1 respectively.
In the draw conducted immediately after the matches, United was drawn to host Roar in the semi-finals while the Cannons welcome Macarthur to Jack Edwards Reserve.
Regardless of who triumphs, Sydney FC and Adelaide United’s elimination means the Cup is now guaranteed a first-time winner.
Led by decorated coach Chris Taylor, Oakleigh took the lead in just the sixth minute when Wade Decker turned in a Chris Lucas cutback.
Forced to go to penalties five days earlier in an NPL Victoria elimination final win, the Cannons had also been hit by an injury crisis heading into the fixture and were given emergency dispensation to sign Lewis Italiano as a goalkeeper earlier that day.
His backup, Ymer Abili, was called up from the U14s.
Nonetheless, Oakleigh denied its highly fancied foes clear looks on goal and doubled its advantage in the 31st minute when Anthony Pantazopoulos hammered a ball into the shins of Lucas and the ball bounced in.
Skipping through defenders, Anthony Caceres lofted a ball onto the head of Adrian Segecic in the 74th minute, who converted to narrow the gap, but the Sky Blues’ frantic efforts to find a leveller came up short as they fell to a 2-1 ‘cupset’.
In Sydney, Al Hassan Toure put the Bulls ahead when he found space in the box and fired into the net in the 41st minute at Campbelltown Stadium.
After his side created the better of the chances, Lachlan Rose then secured Macarthur its first semi-final when he seized on a disastrous backpass from Tim Payne and made it 2-0 in the 88th minute.
Travelling to face Adelaide, an undermanned Roar took the lead at ServiceFM Stadium in the seventh minute when Jay O’Shea seized on a loose ball on the edge of the area and drove it into the net.
English import Charlie Austin then netted his first goal in orange in the 31st minute and made it 2-0 when he met an O’Shea corner with a near-post header.
Hiroshi Ibusuki got one back for the hosts on the eve of half-time but turned villain 11 minutes into the second stanza when he received his marching orders after a reckless late challenge on countryman Riku Danzaki.
Sydney United 58 vs Brisbane Roar
Oakleigh Cannons FC vs Macarthur FC