AMID plenty of personnel changes for both sides, Sydney Olympic snared a valuable three points against APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
The match was moved to APIA’s home ground at Lambert Park, but it wasn’t a happy homecoming for the Tigers, who will need to regroup ahead of their huge match against Blacktown City next weekend.
For Olympic though, it was a well-deserved three points, and they move within a point of third placed Bonnyrigg White Eagles.
Ryan Norval had to be sharp off his line to collect the ball from a Brayden Sorge cross that had Harris Gaitatzis steaming in in only the second minute. Stand in ‘keeper for Olympic, with Paul Henderson injured, John Dimitrakas, had to be equally so moments later in the battle for early supremacy.
Dimitrakas needed to be alert in the sixth minute to thwart Blake Powell as APIA began to pepper the Olympic goal and test the debutant ‘keeper who was showing a cool head.
William Angel replied with a shot into the side netting in the eighth minute after a mazy run down the left wing in end to end football from two smart ball playing sides in a plethora of chances that should have led to a goal in the opening quarter hour.
Nick Olsen found Powell in the box but he was ushered away from goal by the Olympic defence that scrambled to deny the Tigers’ striker.
Indeed it was to be Olympic who hit the front when a long ball from the back found the pacey Angel able to beat the offside trap and remaining calm to lob Norval in the 20’ minute with the ball clipping the underside of the bar before dropping in.
Adam Griffiths needed to be replaced by Brett Studman after taking a knock and APIA were forced to readjust midway through the half after the setback for the central defender.
Norval was then able to reach the ball and tip it over the bar in the 34’ minute from a Yianni Spryakis looping shot as again Olympic were pushing on in search of a second goal but leaving themselves susceptible to the counter attack. It was scintillating football from Olympic although the Tigers were matching it and felt hard done by to be behind.
It was a mistake from Dimitrakis when the ‘keeper slipped and the ball fell free for Nick Olsen, under heavy scrutiny from the defence, managed to slide in and net the equaliser in the 42’ minute to restore parity. It was hard luck on the gloveman who had performed exquisitely to this point.
The half-time break arrived with no addition to the score although rumour had it substitute Studman may have broken a rib in a heavy collision toward the end of the 45’ minutes. It was news APIA didn;t need to hear if proven correct. However the tough defender reappeared for the start of the second period.
Olympic were soon on the attack when Dimitri Hatzimouratis fired wide before Leigh Egger increased Olympic’s lead with a close range header in the 47’ minute after a cross from the right to the back stick.
If tensions were running high prior to the goal they heightened afterwards with stern tackles the order of the day to say the least in a full blooded contest.
Studman eventually needed to be replaced by Stephen Kayes on the hour mark due to the previous injury and again APIA needed to readjust their formation although Olympic responded by replacing Brendan Hooper with Petar Markovic a minute later.
The game degenerated into a midfield battle for control with no quarter asked nor given with Olympic stemming the tide and APIA becoming frustrated. It wasn’t the prettiest football being played but it was effective in Olympic’s favour.
Powell, not having his best game in front of goal, should have equalised in the 83’ minute when Adrian Ucchino sent over a delightful cross for the striker to head inches wide of the upright.
Angel skinned Kayes down the left and warmed the hands of Norval who did well to parry a vicious shot as Olympic hit on the break in the 86’ minute that would have surely secured the points.
Olympic had one last chance to put the game to bed when Ryan Keir fed Angel on a lightning break with the last kick of the game.
Amid cries of “keep it!” from the Olympic bench, Angel squared to Harris Gaitatzis, who was foiled by a superb sprawling save by the excellent Norval.
Grant Lee, a happy Olympic coach commented at the final whistle: “We expected a tough game tonight and you talk about any team in the top five and it’s always going to be difficult. They are good quality players and you turn up every week so these teams up and around there and you know what you’re in for.
“Tonight we had to match them mentally, tactically and physically and we stood up and answered a few questions and if you don’t turn up yourself you get turned over, simple as that. I thought we battled well and deserved the points but the flow was held up on a number of occasions and I’m sure both felt that but we have another tough game next week to prepare for so the points tonight are gratefully won but the job isn’t finished yet.”
The after game comments for APIA were left to Sean Symons who stated: “We definitely didn’t deserve to lose the game tonight and we felt a few decisions went against us in the second-half especially but we didn’t take the chances we created and that was the telling factor in the end. We had them on the ropes at the end of the game but couldn’t find a way through so fair play to Olympic.
“We certainly created enough chances but tonight we just didn’t take them and we have another tough game next week against Blacktown City so we need to take on board what happened tonight and then put it in the background and concentrate on next week.”
Sydney Olympic 2 (Angel 20, Egger 47)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Olsen 42)
Sunday 21st June, 2015
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Joon Park & Nicholas Backo
Fourth Official: Daniel Stack
Sydney Olympic: Dimitrakas, Sorge, Danaskos, Hooper (Markovic 61), Spyrakis (Keir 72), Angel, Hatzimouratis (Gatatzis.M 89), Gaitatzis.H, Egger, Soeda ©, Shirai
Substitutes Not Used: Madonis, Petrovski
Yellow Cards: Spyrakis 44, Angel 55, Keir 90+1
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: Norval, Millgate, Warren, West ©, Powell, Parisi, Elasi, Symons, Ucchino, Griffiths (Studman 25) (Kayes 59), Olsen (Bizco 68)
Substitutes Not Used: Moore
Yellow Cards: Symons 28, West 53, Parisi 66
– by Micky Brock, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at Lambert Park