AGE shall not weary Paul Henderson and the Olympic keeper’s two fantastic first half saves prevented St George taking a deserved lead, in a match that ended scoreless.
It was a day for the glovemen, as Henderson kept the scores level in the first half, before his opposite number Dion Shaw did the same in the second, making a superb one-on-one save.
Only six minutes had been played when Henderson first showed his class.
George Codrea raced through to be one-on-one with the keeper, and when it looked certain he would score, his shot to the near-post was palmed away by Henderson, who showed cat like reflexes to turn the ball away from close range.
Then, in first half stoppage time, David Talevski had an even better chance. St George counter-attacked after defending a corner and when Bruno Pivato released Talevski, he turned on the edge of the area to open up a shooting opportunity.
His curling right footer looked destined to find the bottom corner, only for Henderson to fly across, this time to his left, and touch the ball wide of the far post. It was exceptional goalkeeping from one of the game’s true servants.
In the second half, a goalkeeper at the other end of the age spectrum in Shaw, did his bit to keep the game scoreless.
Go Shirai found himself one-on-one, but opted for power rather than precision, and his fierce shot was brilliantly repelled by Shaw, who managed to get the ball over the bar for a corner.
It was a game in which both keepers deserved clean sheets and a scoreless draw was the fairest result in that respect.
Only two minutes were on the clock when Evan Kostopoulos had the ball in the back of the net, but his effort was ruled out by referee Christopher Young for a foul committed by Kostopoulos before he got his strike away.
It was a bright start but it gave way to a period of decent pressure by St George, who looked lively and organised.
Henderson denied Codrea with the first of his superb saves, before the veteran keeper made a rather more comfortable stop to deny Andreas Vais.
It took Olympic until the 25′ minute mark to fire another shot in anger and when it came from Ryan Keir, it was saved by Shaw.
Vais missed a wonderful chance two minutes later when he blazed over after a cut back from David Talevski, before David Dascal made a critical intervention at the other end, heading away a threatening cross by Olympic’s left back Bradley Treloar.
Lenox Tweneboa was given a yellow-card and when Costa Andricopoulos joined him in the referee’s notebook, it meant that the St George fullbacks were skating on thin ice.
In the 38′ minute, Olympic launched a threatening-looking counter-attack that ended with Taiga Soeda shooting wide.
Talevski was denied by Henderson and Kostpoulos forced a sharp stop at the near post from Shaw and then Henderson made his second big save of the afternoon to deny Talevski again.
Christos Tomaras replaced Michael Gaitatzis at the break and nearly made an immediate impression, shooting against the bar from a free kick just two minutes into the second stanza.
It was a sign of things to come as Olympic began to lay seige on the St George goal.
William Angel had an anonymous first half but came to life in the second, evading Andricopoulos skillfully enough so that the St George defender was booked, before running at Bill Tsanidis.
Tsanidis looked to be struggling with an injury and was very much down on pace and Olympic weren’t shy of running at the St George number 5.
Manny Spanoudakis rang the changes, replacing Mirko Jurilj with Aleksander Jovovic and Vais with Christopher Gomez, in a bid to stem the tide.
Olympic continued to make the running and when St George did win possession they seemed short on ideas in attack.
Grant Lee sent on Dmitri Hatzimouratis in a bid to find the winner, giving him a quarter of an hour, although the decision to replace the lively Kostopoulos was a brave one.
Treloar had a header cleared off the line with only six minutes remaining; Talevski was the man on the post to deny him.
It was the appropriate ending to an absorbing match.
Olympic coach Grant Lee said: "It was one of those ones where if Evan’s goal stood, it would have set us up well. Their shape gave us a few problems, so we had a change of personnel at half-time.
"We dominated the second half, but a couple of players need to be a bit mentally tougher, they’re a bit naive at times. It’s a work in progress and we’re learning and getting better."
St George coach Manny Spanoudakis lamented St George’s first half missed opportunities.
"In the first half we could have had two, maybe even three, we needed a bit of composure in our finishing," Spanoudakis said.
"You have to credit Paul Henderson for the saves. We’re a team that tries to play football, and I’m pleased that we kept a clean sheet.
"I’m pleased with the general effort, nobody leaves anything on the pitch. I’m happy with a point, but at the same time it’s two points lost."
St George 0
Sydney Olympic 0
Sunday June 22, 2014
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Referee: Christopher Young
Assistant Referees: Thomas Lee and Danny Horstead
Fourth Official: James Tesoriero
St George: 1.Dion Shaw; 2.Costa Andricopoulos, 3.David Dascal, 5.Bill Tsanidis, 6.Mirko Jurilj (C) (12.Aleksander Jovovic 63′), 10.Bruno Pivato, 13.Lenox Tweneboa, 16.Jonathan Castano-Acero, 19.David Talveski, 23.George Codrea (8.Nicholas Napoli 85′), 34.Andreas Vais (7.Christopher Gomez 69′)
Substitutes: 21.Lucas North
Yellow Cards: Lenox Tweneboa 24′, Costa Andricopoulos 48′, Mirko Jurilj 60′, Jonathan Castano-Acero 64′
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney Olympic: 1.Paul Henderson; 2.Brayden Sorge, 4.Brendan Hooper, 5.Bradley Treloar, 6.Ryan Keir, 7.William Angel (8.Christopher Godoy-Bascur 90+1′), 14.Peter Markovic (C), 18.Taiga Soeda, 19.Go Shirai, 23.Evan Kostpoulos (9.Dmitri Hatzimouratis 76′), 39.Michael Gaitatzis (33.Christos Tomaras 46′)
Substitutes: 12.Kresimir Kardum, 15.Yianni Spyrakis
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
– By Matthew Lopez, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Editor, at Seymour Shaw Park