Manly United and Blacktown City faced off in the final of the New South Wales edition of the National Premier Leagues competition at CommBank Stadium in Sydney. Manly lined up in a 4-3-3 formation while Blacktown started with wing backs in a 5-1-2-2 shape, interestingly using two ‘10’s’ and the two strikers playing wide. A frenetic opening 10 lead to Blacktown taking control of possession for the most part for the remainder of the first half. They took the lead in the 32nd minute after a clever ball to the back post from the angle of the box, was bundled in at the back post by the right wing back, Campbell. As expected, Manly came out with more purpose in the second half and had the more possession and chances, without many being clear cut. As Manly pushed in search of an equaliser, Blacktown had many chances to put the game to bed on the break, and they did in the 85th minute. A foul on half way was waved on as advantage and Major carried the ball all the way and finished well across the goalkeeper to seal the game.
- A1 – Very good, could play higher
- A2 – Strong potential to play higher
- B1 – Good, strong player at level
- B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
- C – Average for the level, rewatch
- D – Below average in this match
- Nationality: Australian
- Age: 22
- Date of birth: 28/02/00
- Club: Blacktown City FC
- Career: Central Coast Mariners, CCM Academy, Northern Tigers
- Position: Striker
- Preferred foot: Right
Smylie started the game as one of the two wide forwards for Blacktown. Smylie is a tall player who was physical throughout his time on the pitch in this game, his body shape was used cleverly in duels and to good effect by leaning into his markers and not shirking away from a challenge. Smylie’s physicality was his biggest threat, particularly in the air, often using gamesmanship and knowledge of the game situations that far exceed his years. For a tall player, his hold up play was somewhat lacking and his first touch and control often let him down, losing possession frequently and sometimes looking clumsy when under pressure. Smylie didn’t actually have too many notable touches of possession, lowering his abilities to bring teammates into play.
Smylie operated mostly as a wide forward, operating primarily in either half space, then making central runs when his team were in possession; when out of possession he was often the furthest forward of the Blacktown players and took up a relatively central position, occupying opposition defenders. I think that he would work best in a system as a focal point, with out and out wide players providing regular service for him. On the rare occasion he travelled in possession of the ball, Smylie looked relatively threatening, he doesn’t have a great amount of pace, often being outrun by an opposing defender chasing a long ball, but he used his physique and power well. Smylie’s press is one based around hard work, while looking laboured and unorthodox at times, his work rate was there for all to see.
Smylie had two notable chances in the game. Firstly heading wide in the area after meeting a delivery from wide free kick, and secondly, dragging a left footed shot across the goal and wide of the far post after a counter attack – the only real use of his non dominant foot. Despite going into the game as Blacktown City’s top scorer this season with 10 goals, he was unable to convert in this game. He was replaced on the hour mark.
Rating – B1
Jordan Smylie is a good, solid player at this level, despite his showing on this occasion. There wasn’t a great influence on the game other than using his physicality to leave a mark on the opposition, however his work ethic and chasing of lost causes left the Manly defence unsettled, even after his departure. Smylie has played previously at A League level, however I think NPL is about the right standard for him to continue to compete and become a regular goal scorer, despite being only 22.