THE weather played havoc with the fourth round of fixtures in the Grade 20s competition over the Easter long weekend, with two matches washed out on Saturday.
A thrilling Match of the Round at Lambert Park on Monday afternoon ended level between APIA Leichhardt Tigers and Sydney Olympic, with the visitors finishing the game with nine men.
MATCH OF THE ROUND
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC 2-2 Sydney Olympic FC, at Lambert Park
Sydney Olympic completed a remarkable comeback to earn a 2-2 draw against APIA Leichhardt Tigers at Lambert Park on Monday afternoon; ending an occasionally ill-tempered match with just nine men.
APIA were ahead by two after just 15 minutes with goals from Dominic Cox and Zac Ribeiro, but Olympic fought back in the second half to snatch a draw, courtesy of a brace from Oliver Green.
The away side enjoyed early possession but found themselves behind after only five minutes; Cox scoring from the right side of the box as three APIA players streamed forward on the break. APIA threatened to extend their lead almost immediately when Adrian Vlastelica played Raffaele Moniaci through on goal with a ball lofted over the midfield, but Marcus Duncan was quick to cover for Olympic, and made a vital tackle to stop the striker running clear.
Calls for an Olympic penalty in the 15th minute went ignored by the referee, and APIA broke forward with purpose as the visitors continued to remonstrate. After a few minutes of focussed play in their attacking half, APIA were awarded a penalty when Moniaci hit a shot into the arm of an Olympic defender, and Ribiero stepped up to double his side’s advantage; cooly lifting the ball into the roof of the net.
Olympic responded well to conceding from the spot, having been denied a penalty of their own only minutes earlier, and looked to control the match; attacking through the middle with Daniel Bonomy and a drifting Jason Madonis. They weren’t helped by the weather; the rain that had washed out two games on Saturday returning to make long balls forward difficult to pass and control on the synthetic surface.
Just after the half hour, Olympic hit the crossbar two times in as many minutes: the first with a shot from Michael Trajkovski that grazed the top of woodwork, and the second a drive from Madonis that bounced down and away. In the 42nd minute, they pulled a goal back when Green’s shot deflected down off an APIA defender on the edge of the box, skipping under Christopher Moore and into the bottom left corner to halve Olympic’s deficit going into half time.
APIA began the second half determined to hold onto their 2-1 lead, and frustrated their opponents into a series of free kicks on the halfway line. Play became disjointed as both sides sought to dominate possession, and tempers boiled over on the hour mark when Olympic’s James Andrew and APIA’s Mathew Cook came together, resulting in a straight red card for Andrew and a yellow for Cook.
Now down to ten men, Olympic appeared unlikely to score the next goal, but did just that in the 66th minute when Green chased down a ball from midfield and toe-poked it past the onrushing Moore. The visitors continued to pour forward despite their numerical disadvantage, though Madonis began to drop deeper to receive the ball and was unable to make any meaningful impact up further up the field.
Olympic had another player sent off as full time approached; Ejaz Karimi shown his second yellow card to leave his side defending the 2-2 scoreline with nine men for the remaining ten minutes. APIA’s best chance to snatch a winner came when they were awarded a free kick on the edge of Olympic’s penalty area with seconds remaining, but Ribeiro sent his shot high over the bar, and the match ended level.
Disappointed not to hold the lead and win the match, APIA coach Danial Cummins praised Olympic for their performance after going behind 2-0. “We have to give full credit to them, because they played some really good football after the second goal.
"If you turned up to the game after twenty minutes, you wouldn’t have thought it was 2-0 from the way we were playing. The boys aren’t used to playing against ten or nine men all that often, so this was a good experience for them."
Olympic coach Harry Paras reflected on a game of big decisions; proud in his team’s effort in completing their two goal comeback. “We weren’t given a penalty up our end, and then they went up the other end and were awarded one – sometimes you get lucky and sometime you don’t. The boys put in a really spirited performance with nine men, and I think that we could have even nicked it in the end."
APIA Leichhardt FC 2 (Cox 5′, Riberio 15′)
Sydney Olympic FC 2 (O. Green, 42’, 66′)
Monday April 6, 2015
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
APIA Leichhardt FC: Adattini, Alassmi, Cook, Cox, Mccarron, Moniaci, Moore, Perez, Ribeiro, Scott, Vlastelica
Substitutes: Colandrea, Grasso, Koliomihos, Rydzewski, Orchard
Yellow Cards: Cook 60′
Sydney Olympic FC: Bomony D., Bonomy T., Duncan, Green J., Green O., Karimi, Sadaka, Travkovski, Madonis, Andrew, Keir
Substitutes: Everett, Hatzinikolis, Morris, Dimitrakas, Markovic
Yellow Cards: Duncan 37’, Karimi 50′
Red Cards: Andrew 60’, Karimi 80’
ROUND 4 REVIEW
Manly United FC 2-1 Blacktown Spartans FC, at Cromer Park
Goals from Christopher Arditti and Matthew Castelnuovo helped Manly United to their second home win of the season on Friday afternoon, beating Blacktown Spartans by the odd goal in three. Adam Voloder scored the only goal for the visitors.
Sydney United 58 FC 2-3 South Coast Wolves FC, at Sydney United Sports Centre
South Coast Wolves claimed their first win of the season against Sydney United at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday, in the only weekend match unaffected by rain. The win takes the Wolves up to eighth on the ladder, while United 58 stay fifth heading into the next round of fixtures.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC v Blacktown City FC – WASHOUT
Parramatta FC v Sutherland Sharks FC – WASHOUT
Rockdale City Suns FC 0-2 Marconi Stallions FC at Ilinden Sports Centre
The Stallions took the points from Ilinden this round with Marcus Donatiello and Ryan Peterson knocking goals in for the away team. The win moves them to the top of the ladder however Sutherland Sharks have a game in hand following their washout with Parramatta.
by Max Grieve, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Grade 20s Reporter