Sydney Olympic hosted Rockdale City Suns in a round 5 rescheduled fixture on Wednesday evening at Belmore Sports Ground as the Blues scored a late winner to move three points clear atop of the PS4 NPL NSW Men’s 1 ladder.
It was a great battle between two hungry side’s but it was Harris Gaitatzis who broke Suns hearts to gift Grant Lee’s men the three precious points.
The action started in the first minute of play when Will Angel played the ball across from the right to Yianni Spyrakis who attempted a great shot from distance but it finished just wide of the mark.
Rockdale City Suns replied just two minutes later when Alec Urosevski played the ball over to Misuhiro Iwamoto, but he too shot just wide of the intended target.
In the 11th minute a very powerful shot from Hritijan Tanoski from just outside the box really tested the reflexes of goalkeeper Paul Henderson, but the veteran custodian for Sydney Olympic was up to the mark and he punched the ball away.
With these early attempts it appeared that the game would be an end-to end spectacle but early impressions were soon changed as the game became a tight contest and a real tactical battle followed.
In the 28th minute Sydney Olympic figured that the only way through was to unleash a shot from some distance and Dimitri Hatzimouratis almost succeeded as the ball narrowly sailed over the crossbar and away for a goal kick.
A few yellow cards were flashed just prior to the interval by referee Kelly Jones who controlled the match well but nothing too serious on a cold, but pleasantly dry autumn night.
Even though the first half ended in a stalemate, it was still an entertaining game for the football purist.
Straight after the resumption of play the Suns could really have taken the lead when a header from Tanoski reached Alec Urosevski who, from close range, volleyed straight at goalkeeper Henderson.
In the 55th minute a volley by Brendan Hooper from close range after a corner was deflected narrowly wide by the Rockdale defence and from the next corner kick it was Tomislav Arcaba who had to come out of his goal and close down Hatzimouratis as he lined up the shot on goal.
In the 70th minute Hatzimouratis from an acute angle, could have done a lot better but luckily Rockdale were let off the hook.
Rockdale City Suns replied in the 77th minute and should really have taken the lead when Toufic Alameddine charged dangerously into the box but his shot ended up against the side netting.
The only goal of the game arrived three minutes from time when Harris Gaitatzis with a great shot from just outside the box brought great joy to the home fans as he blasted the ball into the back of the net.
In the end it was enough for Olympic to sneak over the line with all three points but Rockdale City Suns can feel a little disappointed to walk away from Belmore without anything.
After the game both coaches recognised this fact.
Grant Lee was delighted with the three points at home against what was a difficult opponent.
“We are incredibly happy to get three points because it is tough as we are in the middle of a schedule from hell,” he said.
“It’s hard to play midweek because we are not a fulltime squad.
“We don’t have the facilities, we don’t have the physios, we don’t have the boys as fulltime players.
“They have to go to work through the day and back up, so it’s a lot different.
“As for the game, to be honest, I would have settled with the one point.
“We were a little bit lethargic, a little bit off the pace and the way things happened Rockdale could have pinched it on us.”
Over in the losing dressing rooms, interim player-coach of Rockdale City Suns, Paul Reid, spoke with pride about his team’s performance.
“It is really disappointing to lose because I think we had the better of the chances to actually win the game,” he said.
“We obviously would have been happy with the draw. I think it was their only shot on target and they scored the goal.
“Considering where we were a few weeks ago, you have to take the positives out of the game and move on and focus on Sunday’s game against the South Coast.
“We have to take the chances when we dominate the game and that’s been our problem all season. We have the chances to go into the lead but we concede silly goals and we need to be a bit more ruthless in front of goal.”
Sydney Olympic 1
Rockdale City Suns 0
Wednesday 6th May
Belmore Sports Ground
Referee: Kelly Jones
Assistant Referees: Janush Adadjour, Alex Long
Fourth Official: Jordan Lake
Sydney Olympic: Henderson, Sorge, Hooper, Spyrakis, Angel, Hatzimouratis, H.Gaitatzis, Balderson (M.Gaitatzis 71’), Egger, Soeda, Go Shirai (James 60’).
Substitutes not used: Sadaka, Madonis, Markovic
Yellow Cards: Soeda 38’, Angel 45’
Red Cards: Nil
Rockdale City Suns: Arcaba, Tanoski, Reid, Murayama, Urosevski (Taneski 85’), Jesic, El Hafiane, Petrillo, P.Savor, Iwamoto (Alameddine 66’), Oygur.
Substitutes not used: Bradasevic, Hesketh, I.Savor
Yellow Cards: Reid 35’, Jesic 75’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Harris Gaitatzis (SO)
2 – Dimitri Hatzimouratis (SO)
1 – Alec Urosevski (RC)
-by Joe Russo, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at Belmore Sports Ground.