ROCKDALE City Suns have leap-frogged Sydney Olympic into outright fifth place on the 2014 National Premier Leagues IGA NSW Mens 1 competition ladder following a hard-fought 1-0 win over Sydney Olympic at Ilinden Sports Centre.
With a top five spot up for grabs, and only one point on the competition ladder separating the fifth placed Suns and the sixth placed Olympic, this was always going to be a tight encounter.
As both teams settled into the game, it took until the 18’ minute for the first realistic opportunity of the match to materialise when Olympic forward Harris Gaitatzis back-heeled a neat ball from out on the left to a fast-finishing Go Shirai who travelled with pace. Shirai’s speed with the ball at his feet was dazzling to watch as he moved quickly into the box and looked likely to get a shot away, were not for the ball-and-all tackle by Rockdale enforcer Themba Muata Marlow.
Shirai was in the thick of the action again in the 31’ minute when a curling left-foot Troy Danaskos free-kick was cleared out of the box as only as far as Shirai whose left-foot volley sailed narrowly over the crossbar.
Yet another opportunity was presented to the energetic Shirai in the 34’ minute when teammate Evan Kostopoulos outpaced the Suns defenders out on the right to deliver another great cross to Shirai, who couldn’t quite get enough power on the header, which lobbed innocuously into the air for Suns keeper David Bradasevic to claim.
The Suns, without captain Askin Oygur and goal scoring whiz Idriss El Hafiane, rarely troubled Olympic keeper Paul Henderson in the opening 45’ minutes and were probably relieved to head to the sheds still locked at 0-0 at the intermission.
Whatever coach Branko Culina said to his troops at the break had immediate impact as a 47’ minute free-kick from out on the left by the Suns Nikola Taneski had Henderson diving full-stretch to make his first save of the afternoon as he punched the ball clear from the numerous Rockdale attackers who had lined up in unison to get a head on the ball.
Taneski went even closer immediately afterwards when a cross from out on the right found him unmarked deep in the box. Taneski’s rushed shot could have easily produced the home side’s opening goal, but instead fizzled harmlessly away.
Olympic regained focus in the second stanza and controlled proceedings in a similar vein as to what they did in the first-half. However, a 67’ minute free-kick, following a foul by Rockdale on the dangerous Kostopoulos on the top right edge of the box, was intercepted by the Suns defenders which sparked a counterattack at the other end of the field. A long ball from out on the right found replacement forward Daniel Barac, who stepped nicely around Olympic defender Bryaden Sorge, and fired off a shot that narrowly missed the post.
As the game wore on it appeared that fresh legs were the way to go and some classy individual play by Olympic replacement forward Will Angel down the left edge in the 72’ minute almost created the opening goal for the visitors as he outpaced would-be Suns defenders to fire off a shot that was well-saved by Bradasevic.
The final ten minutes of the game lifted in intensity with both sides providing end-to-end entertainment for the jam-packed parochial crowd, but in the end it was a brilliant goal to Taneski in the 85’ minute that finally broke the deadlock.
A superb cross from deep on the attacking left edge by Barac, who had created havoc for the Olympic defence since being injected into the game in the 62’ minute, was delivered with precision to a well-positioned Taneski stationed out on the right, where the Suns forward made no mistake in slamming the ball into the back of the net.
It proved the difference between the two teams with Culina’s men taking all three points on offer.
“If you look at the game purely on ball possession then Olympic certainly had the majority of that,” conceded Culina shortly after his side’s win.
“We had a lot of our regular players out so we had to be a little bit smarter, and plus we haven’t won for four weeks for various reasons and in two of those games we only had ten men, so that took a lot out of us.
“I felt that we were a bit disappointing in the first-half as Olympic were the better team, but in the second-half we changed it up a little where we threw an extra player into the midfield and controlled the ball better and created the more opportunities.
“Playing at home I think that you really do need to go for the win, so we took a bit of a chance and threw in some more attack-minded players including Daniel Barac who played quite well out wide and could have scored a goal himself when he counter-attacked.
“Of the 16 players we had there today on the team sheet, 11 of those have played in our Under 20s so overall I’m very pleased with that result.”
Olympic coach Grant Lee was clearly frustrated with his side’s effort.
“(It is an) incredibly tough result to take after dominating all day,” claimed a disappointed Lee.
“It’s still the same thing that comes back to haunt us all the time and that’s our naivety in situations where there’s simply not enough urgency in what we need to do.
“Sure we should have scored a number of times in that first-half, because when you put one goal past then it quickly becomes three, but then you have to be smart in knowing how not to lose a game.
“I don’t know when the penny is going to drop for us; if you keep handing out presents like we do then you’re going to get punished and you just can’t keep doing that. Every team in this league has decent players and if you give them an opportunity then they are going to score – I think that was their first shot on goal and they scored.”
The Suns head north next Saturday evening as they travel across the harbor to take on the unpredictable Manly United at Cromer Park, while Olympic return to Belmore Sports Ground for round 11 as they look to redeem their unimposing stat of three losses from as a many starts at home this year when they host Bonnyrigg White Eagles next Sunday afternoon.
Rockdale City Suns 1 (Nikola Taneski 85’)
Sydney Olympic 0
Sunday May 18, 2014
Ilinden Sports Centre, Rockdale
Referee: Ryan Shepheard
Assistant Referees: James Tesoriero and Nathan Wotton
Fourth Official: David Haslett
Rockdale City Suns: 22.David Bradasevic; 3.Steven Hesketh, 4.Sean Symons (14.Patrick Savor 57’), 5.Paul Reid, 6.Takuya Murayama, 8.Paul Kohler (C), 9.Tadhg Purcell (16.Daniel Barac 62’), 11.Nikola Taneski, 15.Tony Lo (21.Joshua Da Silva 68’), 17.Hristijan Taneski, 19.Themba Muata-Marlow
Substitutes Not Used: 24.Blake Horton, 25.Nicholas Petrillo
Yellow Cards: Hristijan Tanoski 29’, Sean Symons 51’, Daniel Barac 78’, Patrick Savor 84’
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney Olympic: 1.Paul Henderson; 2.Bryaden Sorge, 3.Troy Danaskos, 4.Brendan Hooper, 8.Chris Godoy Bascur, 10.Harris Gaitatzis, 14.Peter Markovic (C), 18.Taiga Soeda (24.Amaury Gauthier 74’), 19.Go Shirai (7.Will Angel 68’), 23.Evan Kostopoulos, 33.Christos Tomaras (9.Dimitri Hatzimouratis 70’)
Substitutes Not Used: 5.Brad Treloar, 12.Kresimir Kardum
Yellow Cards: Chris Godoy Bascur 44’, Amaury Gauthier 90’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Themba Muata-Marlow (RCS)
2 – Evan Kostopoulos (SO)
1 – Paul Kohler (RCS)
-By Gary McDonald, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Reporter, at Ilinden Sports Centre