Manly United FC and Sydney Olympic FC played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at Cromer Park on Sunday afternoon in the round 9 IGA National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 competition.
The home side were up for the challenge, and coach Paul Dee rewarded the 11 players who beat Bonnyrigg midweek in the Waratah Cup by sending out the same team.
5’ minutes in they were celebrating when Scott Balderson found the back of the net.
It followed a mistake from Olympic at the back where Brendan Cholakian capitalised and laid the ball square to Balderson, who took a touch before slotting the ball home past Paul Henderson.
15’ minutes later Olympic squared proceedings.
Amaury Gauthier found Harris Gaitatzis who rifled the ball past Dylan Mitchell from six yards.
Evan Kostopoulos was easily the best player on the pitch in the first half and on 40’ minutes he gave Olympic the lead.
Mitchell hesitated to collect a ball in the box and the former Adelaide Reds utility headed into an empty net.
On the hour mark Manly almost scored a second.
Cholakian whipped in a dangerous free kick and Josh Lawson rose above the pack, only to see his header skim the crossbar.
4’ minutes later Manly were back in the contest when substitute Jed Prater timed his run into the final third to perfection.
He found himself with Henderson to beat and showed great composure to round the one-time Northern Spirit gloveman and side-foot home.
76’ minutes in Chris Payne was about to pull the trigger following a great ball from Dom Ferguson, only to see the retreating Taija Soeda time his tackle perfectly inside the box.
Olympic had three clear chances late to steal three points, only to find Mitchell in inspired form.
Balderson was sent off on 89’ minutes for a second yellow card, but the home side held firm to nab a point.
United boss Paul Dee was happy with what his team dished up.
“The effort was good, especially when you consider we were backing up from a midweek cup game,’’ he said.
“Morale in the squad is still good – today we had to fix a couple of problems at the break and we did that.
“We could have won it at the end, but we will take the draw.”
His opposite Grant Lee felt his team should have collected three points on the road.
“We dominated the game, but conceded soft goals,’’ he said.
“We need to be more ruthless in what we do.”
Manly United FC 2 (Scott Balderson 5’, Jed Prater 68’)
Sydney Olympic FC 2 (Harris Gaitatzis 20’, Evan Kostopoulos 40’)
Cromer Park, Cromer
Referee: Kevin Peddie
Assistant referees: Thomas Lee, Kearney Robinson
Fourth official: Lachlan Keevers
Manly United FC: 1.Dylan Mitchell, 7.Scott Balderson, 10.Brendan Cholakian, 3.Leigh Egger, 22.Jack Green, (9.Chris Payne 61’) 5.Josh Lawson, 4.Graeme Forbes, 19.Daniel Saric, (16.Jed Prater 45’) 11.Roberto Speranza, 13.Tanaka Masakatsu, 6.Josh Ward (12.Dom Ferguson 66’)
Substitutes not used: 20.Tonu Liiband
Yellow cards: Balderson 49, Speranza 50’
Red cards: Balderson 89’
Sydney Olympic FC: 1.Paul Henderson, 7.Will Angel, (19.Go Shirai 80’) 3.Troy Danaskos, 10.Harris Gaitatzis, 24.Amaury Gauthier, (9.Dimitri Hatzimouratis 77’) 4.Brendan Hooper, 23.Evan Kostopoulos, 14.Peter Markovic, 18.Taiga Soeda, 2.Bryaden Sorge, 33.Christos Tomaras (8.Chris Godoy Bascur 71’)
Substitutes not used: 5.Brad Treloar
Yellow cards: Tomaras 56’
Red cards: Nil
3 – Evan Kostopoulos (SO)
2 – Josh Lawson (MU)
1 – Brendan Cholakian (MU)