THE round 20 encounter between Sydney Olympic and Manly United at Belmore Sports Ground was won by Sydney Olympic who had played the same adversaries for the second time in less than a week.
In the eleventh minute a long ball forward from defence reached Dimitri Hatzimouratis who danced his way past some three defenders in the box, but in the end his shot was well blocked by goalkeeper Dylan Mitchell.
A minute later Taiga Soeda tried his luck from distance with a powerful drive that ended up just wide of the post as the home side looked to take advantage of Manly United’s defensive uncertainty.
In the 25’ minute a gem of a free kick from over 20 metres out by Hatzimouratis beat all and sundry and ended up flush against the crossbar in what should really have been the opening goal of the game.
In the 34’ minute Sydney Olympic should definitely have scored when a they pressured the Manly United defence and a loose ball was pounced on by Soeda from close range but goalkeeper Mitchell made a stupendous reflex save with his chest which was regathered then by Harris Gaitatzis who was on the spot, merely a metre away from an open goal, but somehow he skyed his shot over the crossbar when it would have been harder to miss than to score. It was indeed a calamitous miss from such a short distance.
In the 41’ minute a bouncing ball sent forward was met by Michael Gaitatzis on the volley in the far right hand side of the penalty area but his bold attempt, which would have been a marvellous goal Marco van Basten-style had it have gone in, sailed narrowly over the crossbar.
However, in the 43’ minute Sydney Olympic finally took the lead and it was truly what they deserved. The goal came through an own goal of epic proportions by Roberto Speranza who, under pressure and scurrying back, tried to back pass the sphere to his own goalkeeper who slipped when racing out and the ball comfortably made its way into the back of the net.
Shortly afterwards the halftime whistle went and Sydney Olympic coach Grant Lee, who prefers to watch the game from high up in the grandstand, made his way down to join his team after a convincing first half display.
In the second half the opening salvo went to Manly United who tried their luck with a Christopher Payne shot in the 47’ minute that was wide of the intended target.
In the 52’ minute Paul Henderson was forced into a point blank save when a cross from the right by Daniel Saric reached Payne who basically headed the ball against a startled Henderson. It was a better effort by the visitors who failed to go anywhere near the Olympic goal in the first half.
In the 56’ minute some good work down the right by Brayden Sorge found Harris Gaitatzis in the box but his close range touch went just wide. Manly United replied immediately with a powerful drive from Brendan Cholokian that sailed narrowly over.
In the 63’ minute Daniel Saric equalised for Manly United when a through ball reached him on the run and he slotted home a relatively easy goal that the home side would have been kicking themselves for conceding.
In the 66’ minute Hatzimouratis came close to scoring again from just outside the box whenhe shot just wide of the goal. It was frustrating for the home side’s number nine as he had come close in the first half as well.
In the 73’ minute Sydney Olympic regained the lead when a Will Angel cross from the left reached Michael Gaitatzis in the box and he headed home but also injured himself in the process by clashing with the goalkeeper Mitchell and then had to be replaced by Brendan Hooper.
It was a great week for Michael who grabbed a double earlier in the week in their Westfield FFA Cup victory over Manly United.
In the 78’ a powerful diagonal shot by substitute Tom Morrissey hit the crossbar and it could have been the equaliser for the visitors albeit not truly deserved.
In the 90’ minute Hatzimouratis finally scored from close range when he flicked on the ball he had received from the left into the goal to round off the scoring for the home side.
After the game Grant Lee, coach of Sydney Olympic, stated that it was a good win given that his side had to play four games in two weeks.
“It’s was a very good win because it has been hard as we have had four games in 14 days,” he said. “It has been very hard both physically and mentally because we have played Blacktown City, Sutherland, then the Westfield FFA Cup game and today both against Manly United.
“The second half caught up with the boys a little because we suddenly got a little bit complacent. You also need to remember that this team is very young, so not to have that experience on how to play these games and then back it up mentally and physically, is a very big thing.”
On the Manly United bench there was Jimmy Van Weeren, normally the assistant coach but today deputising as head coach for Paul Dee, and he expressed similar thoughts to Grant Lee about his young team.
“In the second half we addressed the way we can retain the ball and maintain a bit more possession to build a little more pressure and I thought that we did that,” he said. “We got the goal but then we were a little naïve and exposed ourselves on the counter and they got the second goal and the third goal late. We are short on bodies but that’s no excuse,” he concluded.
Sydney Olympic FC 3 (Roberto Speranza o.g. 43’, Michael Gaitatzis 73’, Dimitri Hatzimouratis 90’)
Manly United FC 1 (Daniel Saric 63’)
Sunday 3rd August, 2014
Belmore Sports Ground
Referee: Ryan Shepheard
Assistant Referees: Scott Edeling and Ben Abrahams
Fourth Official: Craig Fisher
SYDNEY OLYMPIC: 1.Paul Henderson, 2.Brayden Sorge, 3.Troy Danaskos, 6.Ryan Keir(33.Christos Tomaras 71’), 9.Dimitri Hatzimouratis, 10.Harris Gaitatzis (7.William Angel 59’), 14.Peter Markovic (C), 15.Yianni Spyrakis, 18.Taiga Soeda, 19.Go Shirai, 39.Michael Gaitatzis (4.Brendan Hooper 76’).
Substitutes not used: 5.Ben Treloar
Yellow Cards: Yianni Spirakis 26’
Red Cards: Nil
MANLY UNITED FC: 1.Dylan Mitchell, 3.Leigh Egger, 4.Graeme Forbes (C), 6.Josh Ward, 8.Daniel Grant (7. Scott Balderson 56’), 9.Christopher Payne, 10.Brendan Cholakian, 11.Roberto Speranza (17.Nathan Sim 46’), 15.Rhys Williams, 16.Jed Prater (29.Tom Morrissey 75’), 19.Daniel Saric
Substitutes not used: 20.Tony Liiband
Yellow Cards: Daniel Saric 30’, Scott Balderson 87’
Red Cards: Nil
– By Joe Russo, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Reporter, at Belmore Sports Ground