Sydney Olympic’s finals hopes suffered a severe blow despite a 1-1 draw with Blacktown Spartans at Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday.
In a feisty encounter – which produced eleven yellow cards – Luka Dukic opened the scoring for the away side before Zak Elrich brought the home side back into the game slotting the ball home before the break.
The home fans showed their displeasure in former captain Phil Makrys defecting to the Spartans mid-season, booing him on his every touch of the ball.
Makrys ignored the spiteful calls as he played a through ball to Corey Bizco out wide, opening up the Olympic defence early, only for the latter’s cross to go out for a corner.
Sydney Olympic were quick to fire back in the 2’ minute when Tyson Rhodes’ soft header back to Carlos Saliadarre put the goalkeeper under pressure with Amaury Gauthier almost pouncing on the mistake.
Makrys was eager to score against his former side and in the 4’ minute had a curling free-kick deflected just wide of the mark.
The midfielder’s lively start finally cracked the Blues in the 9’ minute when his lovely curling free-kick was met by the head of Luka Dukic, giving the Spartans a 1-0 lead.
Zak Elrich brought the home fans up off their seats in the 20’ minute feeding a through ball to James Demetriou only for the winger to worsen his angle and send his shot well wide.
The Spartans had Saliadarre to thank 5’ minutes later when Troy Danaskos moved forward, playing a one-two with Renato Franco Ramirez before forcing the goalkeeper into a great save.
Makrys continued to pepper the Blues goal with shots but in the 29’ minute his powerful free-kick went out for a goal kick.
2’ minutes later, Sydney Olympic had another chance to equalise as Elrich’s corner was headed wide by Brendan Hooper.
The home side increased their tempo which paid dividends in the 37’ minute when Ramirez attacked, crossing the ball down low to find an unmarked Elrich who slotted the ball into the net at the back post making it 1-1.
Ramirez had the chance to give his side the lead when he was put through on goal a minute later but Saliadarre was out well to claim the ball.
Blacktown continued to reel in defence and in the 40’ minute could have conceded another goal, only for Elrich’s corner to be missed by his teammates leaving the scores equal at the break.
Both sides came out of the break hungry to break the deadlock with both teams moving forward with intent.
Sydney Olympic had a sight on goal in the 52’ minute when a well-weighted Elrich free-kick ended in Saliadarre claiming the ball in his six-yard box.
The Spartans had a great chance to score in the 57’ minute when Paul Henderson came off his line to punch the ball straight to Bryan Soane with the striker hitting the ball wide of the right hand upright.
Greg Kondek was next to fire a shot wide for the Spartans as the game opened up with both teams moving forward at the 60’ minute mark.
Soane was left with his head in his hands a minute later when he blasted the ball over the bar from point blank range much to the delight of the Blues fans.
Troy Danaskos started troubling the Blacktown defence with a flurry of runs down the left hand touchline. The left back had a good chance to put his team in front in the 69’ minute with the ball falling to him from a cleared corner, only for his shot to be easily saved.
A minute later, Marton Vass had another great chance to give his side the lead with his header beating the goalkeeper but just missing the target.
Vass was again lamenting a missed opportunity in the 77’ minute with another header cleared off the line as Blacktown struggled to get any possession.
The Spartans made it out of their half minutes later and had a great opportunity to again take the lead as Emmanuel Giannaros’ cross went right through the hands of Henderson with Kingsley Williams on hand at the back post to clear the ball from danger.
Vass continued to pressure the Spartans defence and in the 87’ minute won a free-kick within striking distance. Amaury Gauthier stepped up to sweetly strike the ball only to find the safe hands of Saliadarre ending the match at 1-1.
Sydney Olympic coach Grant Lee was left disappointed with his side’s missed opportunities but said he was proud of his young squad since taking over at the club:
“I think over the course of the game we definitely dominated and tried to play football,’’ Lee said.
“It was a funny game because the style of football they want to play isn’t conducive to how you want to play because the ball is always in the air resulting in plenty of contests in the air.
“Sometimes you just have to play to the conditions and it’s not pretty.
“But I thought we created more than they did and looked more dangerous and threatening.
“Across the board with what’s happened with the board and the club the boys have responded very well.’’
In the opposition dressing room Spartans coach Ben De Haan said he was happy to come away from the game with a point:
“We looked for a quick start and to get a goal early which worked,’’ he said.
“Games away from home have been a test for us lately but we got that goal from a set piece again.
“We had a couple set pieces where we looked dangerous but we had a bit of a lull period after that which is probably what hurt us.
“They snuck a goal and after that I thought it was a bit of a scrap really, winning seconds and the like.
“Coming away with a point is probably fair, I thought.’’
Sydney Olympic 1 (Zak Elrich 37’)
Blacktown Spartans 1 (Luka Dukic 9’)
Sunday 14th July, 2013
Belmore Sports Ground
Referee: Ryan Shepheard
Assistant Referees: Ryan Gallagher and Glen Peterkin
Fourth Official: James Tesoriero
Sydney Olympic: 1.Paul Henderson; 5.Bradley Treloar, 6.Marton Vass, 8.Kingsley Williams, 10.Renato Franco Ramirez, 12.Troy Danaskos, 15.Zak Elrich, 21.James Demetriou, 22.Amaury Gauthier, 24.Brendan Hooper, 29.Brayden Sorge
Substitutes Not Used: 9.Luke Grima, 46.Michael Cindric, 23.Luke Kairies
Yellow Cards: Vass 36’, Ramirez 45’, Treloar 65’, Demetriou 80’
Red Cards: Nil
Blacktown Spartans: 1.Carlos Saliadarre (C); 2.Luke Austin, 3.Nathan Millgate, 4.Luka Dukic, 6.Greg Kondek, 7.Phil Makrys (38.Zac Freeburn 85’), 10.Bryan Soane (15.Andre Carle 77’), 11.Tyson Rhodes, 14.Luke Jenner (5.Daniel Wilkinson 46’), 16.Emmanuel Giannaros, 25.Corey Biczo
Substitutes Not Used: Nil
Yellow Cards: Makrys 18’, Millgate 22’, Dukic 23’, Rhodes 64’, Austin 84’, Kondek 87’, Giannaros 90’
Red Cards: Nil
-By Chris Georges