A LATE Sutherland Sharks winner was all she wrote as Robbie Stanton’s men claimed all three precious points with a 3-2 win in what was a high octane clash at Belmore Sports Ground against Sydney Olympic.
Olympic looked to draw first blood, but Sutherland defender Nick Littler was on hand to clear an early cross away for a corner.
Jacob Tratt received a caution when bringing down William Angel on the edge of the box and from the free-kick Yianni Sprakis looked for the back post, but Sharks’ ‘keeper Nathan Denham was able to pluck the ball from the air to alleviate the threat.
The visitors found the telling opening in the 16’ minute when Nathan Elasi was put through to centre for Adamos Pierettis to side-foot home with ease and give Sutherland the lead.
They didn’t have to wait long for an equaliser as Evan Kostopoulos drew Olympic level with a towering header in the 25’ minute to bring the game to life once more.
Dimitri Hatzimouratis showed little composure when clean through inside the box in the 32’ minute, as he skewed his shot well wide of Denham’s right upright.
A succession of corners up the other end kept Olympic under pressure but the end result was no addition to the score.
Olympic broke in the 35’ minute only for Harris Gaitatzis to side foot an effort across the face of goal.
Olympic should have gone ahead in the 38’ minute when Angel pulled the ball back, picking out Kostopoulos, but with three team mates unmarked in the box but his touch deserted him completely and another opportunity went begging.
Sutherland’s cavalier style was being sorely tested by a swaggering Olympic who were matching in every department.
A thoroughly entertaining action packed half came to a close with the scores locked and everything to play for in this big local derby, with Nick Olsen putting in a very strong shift for the visitors.
Olympic were caught offside immediately on the resumption with Hatzimouratis bearing down on goal followed quickly by Gaitatzis heading over as the home side looked to dominate.
Denham was forced to punch a Troy Danaskos free-kick clear, then needed to be sharp on his feet to gather the Christos Tomaras follow up.
Panni Nikas, finding space in the midfield, took a shot on and fired from distance that had Paul Henderson diving to his right to clutch a swerving ball at full stretch.
Olsen relieved Kostopoulos of the ball and made a darting run down the left but his whipped cross headed narrowly wide by Jamie McMaster.
Nikas was again involved in the 65’ minute when his free-kick, after McMaster had been brought down, slid past the angle of bar and post although Henderson looked to have it covered.
Olympic went straight up the other end and took the lead for the first time when Harris Gaitatzis beat the offside trap and coolly slotted past Denham.
Sutherland’s reply was swift and uncompromising when parity was restored in the 68’ minute.
Adamos netted his second of the match after a marvellous through ball by Sharks inspirational skipper Nick Stavroulakis and perhaps should have taken the lead less than 60-seconds later but for the heroics of Henderson tipping over a Nikas pile driver.
If the game had been entertaining to this point, it was now frenetic.
It wasn’t the physical derby of old with two evenly matched ball playing sides going hard at it and as ever in games such as these there was to be a twist in the tail.
Substitute Ethan Galbraith came off the bench 11’ minutes earlier and was superbly set up by Nick Olsen in the 87’ minute to net the winner, tucking the ball away in some style past Henderson.
Grant Lee stated after the final whistle: “It was a very good game, very even and a great battle.
“It was tactical, technical and at the end of the day you may say a draw would have been the correct result on the balance of play.
“We are obviously disappointed with the way we conceded our goals, very poor, naive, ball watching and not being strong enough and understanding where players are or being aggressive in our final third in making sure they don’t play in behind.”
There were many pointers to how Olympics’ season should progress as Lee continued: “For sure we have improved with what we have been doing in the last few weeks, the boys have done extremely well and it’s starting to show.
“We are getting better at what we do and we needed to reshuffle the squad a little this week with midweek cup games etc. but the guys need to stand up if they are to make it and back it up each week as these are things that happen at the highest level.
“That said, we are a young side and the guys are on a learning curve and we’ll get better as the weeks go by but disappointed not to get something from the game today.”
“The match came down to the little things today,” replied Sharks coach Robbie Stanton before continuing: “We conceded a couple of goals through transition, quick loss of possession in key areas and they hurt us but I looked at the way we scored our goals and it was through structured build up.
“I thought we were very good at getting the ball in behind, making the angled runs and the final pass was superb each time and we’ve spoken about putting that edge to our game and it paid dividends out there against Olympic.
“I was very pleased with the performance but it was a very even game and I feel that in the end we just took our chances better.”
Sydney Olympic 2 (Evan Kostopoulos 25, Harris Gaitatzis 65)
Sutherland Sharks 3 (Adamos Pierettis 16’ 68’ Ethan Galbraith 87)
Sunday May 4, 2014
Belmore Sports Ground, Belmore
Referee: Ryan Shepherd
Assistant Referees: Thomas Lee and Sebastian Brennan
Fourth Official: Roberto Batteo
Sydney Olympic: 1.Paul Henderson (g/k), 2.Brayden Sorge, 3.Troy Danaskos, 4.Brendan Hooper, 7.William Angel, 9.Dimitri Hatzimouratis (19.Go Shirai 75), 10.Harris Gaitatzis, 14.Peter Markovic ©, 15.Yianni Sprakis (39.Michael Gaitatzis 84), 23.Evan Kostopoulos, 33.Christos Tomaras (24.Amaury Gauthier 64)
Substitutes Not Used: 5. Brayden Treloar, 12.Kresimir Kardum
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham (g/k), 2.Jacob Tratt, 3.Adamos Pierettis, 5.Nick Littler, 6.Matt Gordon, 9.Nathan Elasi, 10.Jamie McMaster (16.Ethan Galbraith 76), 14.Nick Stavroulakis ©, 19.Nick Olsen, 23.Panni Nikas, 29.Mitchell Farmer
Substitutes Not Used: 8.Lukas Stergiou, 18.Jayden Koulizakis, 22.Andrew Depta (g/k), 28.Jacob Bandur
Yellow Cards: Jacob Tratt 14’ Ethan Galbraith 90+2
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Nick Olsen (SS)
2 – Panni Nikas (SS)
1 – Evan Kostopoulos (SO)
– By Micky Brock, National Premier Leagues Mens 1 Reporter, at Belmore Sports Ground