NY Shamrocks earned a hard fought three points against a stellar FC Japan on Saturday evening.
Rocks dominated the possession for 90 minutes but could not convert despite a number of gilt-edged opportunities. With all three Rocks strikers absent, Nikle Guzijan, centre-half by trade, led the line to great effect in a four-five-one formation.
It took the Rocks 70 mins to register the first goal when Shane Moore broke from midfield and fed Jonny Chapman, who slotted home neatly.
It was not until the 80th minute that the Rocks doubled their lead when Sean Steed majestically curled a free kick into the top corner following an infringement by FC Japan on the edge of the box.
Special mention to Rocks' keeper Robbie O'Neill who edged FC Japan's keeper for man of the match. O'Neill made some crucial saves to keep a clean sheet.
The win puts Shamrocks two points behind second place NY Ukrainians with a game in hand.
Meanwhile, the Shamrocks Reserves fell to a 2-1 defeat against the Japanese in the earlier game.
Playing against the wind in the first half, the Rocks never settled and were undone by the concession of two sloppy goals, leaving the score 2-0 to the home side at half-time.
With a few changes in midfield, including the introduction of English debutant Tom Settle, the away side started to come into it a little more.
But despite the ball being in the opposition half for almost the entire second half, the Rocks could only convert one of their many chances, a low Keith Cagney strike with about 20 minutes to go.
"It's a setback," admitted coach Robbie O'Neill. "But the lads showed great spirit in the second half and that will be something we can take into the remaining four games."
The Over 30s were beaten 3-0 on Sunday morning by Barnstonworth.