A chanceless 0-0 draw that does little for either side is what transpired at a Ilinden Sports Centre, as neither Rockdale City Suns nor Sydney Olympic managed to find a match-winning moment.
Rockdale City are still a chance of making the top five, but an alarming lack of firepower in the final third will surely be playing on Branko Culina’s mind.
For Sydney Olympic, they have responded strongly to Grant Lee since his appointment and they have shown that they are a difficult side to beat and with a game in hand, they will hold out hope of making the top five themselves.
The first half chance fell to Rockdale City in the 17′ minute and it was an indication of how the day was to run.
Paul Kohler, restored to a midfield role, was the architect, bursting into space down the right and crossing to Richard Cardozo, whose attempted flick finish at the near post deflected out for a corner.
It was a slow burning encounter that never looked like living up to any lofty expectations.
Renato Franco had a headed opportunity a few moments after Cardozo’s half chance, but he could only place it straight at Diego Barcena.
Likewise, in the 26′ minute, a shot from Luka Grima was easily saved by the Suns ‘keeper.
Both he and Paul Henderson will have felt unemployed after this match, neither having to so much as get their gloves dirty in the 90′ minutes.
The interval came as a blessing.
Branko Culina took the initiative, replacing the quiet Nikola Taneski with Idriss El-Hafiane at the break and it proved to be a spark for the home side.
Rockdale City started the second-half on top.
Troy Danaskos, in particular, struggled to contain the effervescent Gan on the right hand side.
It was Gan who had the first chance of the second period, when a quick free-kick from Paul Reid found him on the edge of the area, but his shot was dragged wide.
It was the start of a period of concerted pressure from the home side, but, you have to score when you’re on top and scoring isn’t something that has come easily to Rockdale City of late.
Paul Reid, of all people, nearly broke the deadlock in the 53’ with a volley that found the side netting, before Cardozo shot high and wide a minute later.
Bradley Treloar replaced William Angel and Danaskos was pushed into midfield and it was a substitution that settled Olympic’s defence.
Danaskos proved to be a threat further up field and Treloar did a far better job at keeping an eye on the lively Gan.
A back-pass took a bad bobble and Henderson ended up air-swinging at his attempted clearance, momentarily causing panic but the ball went out for a corner rather than into the goal.
It was that kind of day.
Rockdale City Suns coach Branko Culina was very matter-of-fact after the game:
"The result and the performance are both the same, disappointing," Culina said.
"Performance is always going to be difficult on a pitch like this, but you still expect to win at home."
Asked if there was an area of improvement to target for the final three games, Culina was pointed:
"We need to win games," he said.
Sydney Olympic coach Grant Lee was in a far more positive mood:
"I’ll take it any day of the week," he said.
"Any draw is better than losing games.
"When you consider that when we played Rockdale City in the first round, only three of those players are in this team, you realise we’ve lost a lot of players with the fallout from the club.
"These young boys that have come in have shown what they can do.
"I thought we were the better team today, as we have been on a number of occasions.
"I’m more than happy. We’ve got a lot of kids, a lot of young boys, and they’ve stepped up," Lee concluded.
Rockdale City Suns 0
Sydney Olympic FC 0
Sunday 28th July, 2013
IIinden Sports Centre, Rockdale
Referee: Christopher Young
Assistant Referees: Scott Edeling and Adam Coombes
Fourth Official: Lachlan Keevers
Rockdale City Suns: 22.Diego Barcena; 3.Giorgio Speranza, 5.Paul Reid (13.Sam Munro 67′), 6.Takuya Murayama, 7.Brendan Gan, 8.Paul Kohler (11.David Talevski 79′), 10.Richard Cardozo, 14.Nikola Taneski (12.Idriss El Hafiane 46′), 19.Alec Urosevski, 20.Roberto Speranza, 23.Askin Oygur
Substitutes Not Used: 24.Aaron Liddell; 18.Seiya Kawamura
Yellow Cards: Askin Oygur 30′, Paul Kohler 43′, Roberto Speranza 63′
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney Olympic FC: 1.Paul Henderson; 6.Marton Vass, 8.Kingsley Williams, 9.Luke Grima, 10.Renato Franco-Ramirez, 11.William Angel (5.Bradley Treloar 71′), 12.Troy Danaskos, 22.Amaury Gauthier (15.Zak Elrich 81′), 24.Brendan Hooper, 29.Brayden Sorge, 49.Michael Cindric
Substitutes Not Used: 23.Luke Kairies; 19.Chris Godoy, 50.Giorgio Bertacchi
Yellow Cards: Amaury Gauthier 23′, Kingsley Williams 39′, Luke Grima 61′
Red Cards: Nil
-By Matthew Connellan