Caution was the order of the day when former National Soccer League giants Marconi Stallions and Sydney Olympic met at Marconi Stadium on Saturday night.
With both teams desperate for PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 points, perhaps that should not have been a surprise.
The traditional encounter always brings memories of days gone by, but in this instance, the game took a while to get going.
When it did, it never reached any great heights as both sides played fairly cautious football.
In the end two late goals from Sydney Olympic duo Harris Gaitatzis and substitute Dimitri Hatzimouratis were enough for the travelling side to claim full points.
The game’s first meaningful bit of action came in the 19th minute, when a free-kick from Jacob Boutoubia finished just wide of the intended target as the Stallions tried to break the deadlock.
In the 24th minute, a cross from the left by Go Shirai raced across the entire face of goal but the quality of the ball was not matched by a willing runner as the ball flashed harmlessly across the face.
The next chance came in the 31st minute, when a powerful free-kick from well outside the box by Taiga Soeda was on target, but flew straight into the awaiting arms of Sam Nastic.
The best opportunity of the first stanza arrived in the 41st minute when Gaitatzis fired a shot from the right that ended up just over the crossbar.
It was a very close call indeed and, as always, from a source of reliability and consistency for Olympic.
The chances did little to disguise a rather poor half of football, which was reflected in the score line as both teams entered the break goalless.
It only took three minutes for the first action of the second half when Jack Press had a diagonal shot that suffered a deflection and went straight onto the post.
For Marconi, it would have been a nice way to start proceedings so early in the second half after a first 45 minutes of play where they hardly looked like troubling the opposition.
The same player was at it again for Marconi just two minutes later when Brayden Sorge was called into action to clear another dangerous diagonal shot off the line.
Despite the scoreline, it appeared that whatever was said in the dressing rooms at halftime by Marconi coach Jeff Suzor certainly had an impact on the field for the Stallions.
In the 64th minute a long-distance shot from Boutoubia was definitely heading into the top left hand corner of the net until Paul Henderson, turning back the clock, pulled off a delightful save to turn the ball over the crossbar.
At the other end shortly afterwards, Sydney Olympic had their best chance of the second half so far when Taiga Soeda forced Sam Nastic into a nice save low down to his left.
In the 84th minute William Angel was played towards goal but was brought down by Luke Austin in the box and referee Chris Young, jogging on the spot, awarded a penalty.
Up stepped Harris Gaitatzis who planted the ball in top corner of the net to open the scoring.
Three minutes later Sydney Olympic scored again when a dangerous cross from the left reached Hatzimouratis and the player who came on as a second half replacement fired in a volley that was too hot to handle.
It was a cruel ending for Marconi who had looked like getting at least a point.
After the game a relieved Sydney Olympic coach Grant Lee expressed how delighted he was with the full points.
“It was one of those games where sometimes the hardest teams to play against are the ones at the bottom of the table,” he said.
“Once you get to this stage of the season these guys (Marconi) are fighting for their lives, so they make it hard for you.
“You need to be very disciplined and patient with what you do and I thought we dominated very well, but they had chances early in that second half.
“We probably got a little bit sloppy and created our own demise and Hendo (Paul Henderson) has had to make one of two great saves.
“We just had to maintain our composure and patience which we did to get the three points tonight.”
Marconi Stallions 0
Sydney Olympic 2 (H.Gaitatzis 85’, Hatzimouratis 88’)
Saturday 18th July 2015
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Marconi Stallions: Nastic, Austin, Rhodes, Lum, Ott, Boutoubia (86’ Boyadjian), Simonovic, Hadid (86’ Peterson), Appiah, Nunes, Press.
Substitutes not used: Semkovski, Brown, Donatello,
Yellow Cards: Appiah 17’, Austin 58’, Boutoubia 82’, Rhodes 84’
Sydney Olympic: Henderson, Angel, Danaskos, Sorge, H.Gaitatzis, M.Gaitatzis (66’ Hatzimouratis), Hooper, Markovic, Shirai, Soeda, Spyrakis.
Substitutes not used: Dimitrakas, Egger, Madonis, Keir
Yellow Cards: Angel 52’, Spyrakis 90’
Referee: Chris Young
Assistant Referees: Andreij Giev, Janush Adabjou
Fourth Official: Adam Naylor
– By Joe Russo, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at Marconi Stadium.