ROUND 22, the final set of fixtures for the regular season, played out over the weekend, with all twelve teams in action at 1pm on Sunday afternoon as the top five settled their positions ahead of the Semi Finals.
Fourth faced off against fifth in this week’s Match of the Round, with Sydney United 58 coming off second best to a determined Sydney Olympic outfit at Belmore Sports Ground.
Match of the Round
Sydney Olympic FC 4-2 Sydney United 58 FC, Sunday 1pm at Belmore Sports Ground
Three unanswered first half goals set Sydney Olympic up for a 4-2 win over Sydney United 58 at Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday afternoon in the last round of fixtures ahead of the semi finals. Braces from James Andrew and Michael Trajkovski secured the win for Olympic, while Cristian Gonzalez scored two of his own for the defeated visitors.
The match settled into a familiar pattern of play from kickoff: passes across the Olympic back line would eventually see the ball move into the midfield, before play broke down ahead of the final third, with Jason Madonis unable to penetrate a well-set Sydney United defence.
The visitors had their chances to break the deadlock early on; Tariq Maia drifted through at the top of the box to leave himself with a seemingly clear run on goal, but Marcus Duncan was quick to get across and slide in to make a vital interception.
With a place in the semi finals already assured for both sides ahead of this game, neither seemed particularly bothered by the 0-0 scoreline as the half wore on. Tariq receieved a pass from midfield at the edge of the box and laid the ball on for Anthony Vrlic, who couldn’t keep his volley from looping over the crossbar as the ball bounced ahead of him.
Chances were few but Olympic had enjoyed the majority of possession in the first quarter of the game, and made it count in the 24th minute when James Andrew scored a brilliant individual goal: skipping down the left flank to reach the byline, he pushed past his defender before facing up to goal and slotting the ball past goalkeeper Luke Babic into the far corner from a narrow angle.
A goal up, Olympic continued to roll forward in numbers, and might have had a quick second when Andrew strayed across to the right side to hit a low pass in for Michael Trajkovski at the top of the box, but the striker took the ball awkwardly in his stride and could only send a scuffed shot spinning wide of the post.
Trajkovski was presented with another opportunity to further Olympic’s lead when he was played through on the right side just minutes after Andrew had opened the scoring, and this time made no mistake with his finish; hitting a firm shot across the goalkeeper whose heavy touch was not enough to stop the ball from squeezing in at the far post.
Disciplined almost to the point of tedium, neither side felt pressured into making risky challenges in defence, though up the other end only Olympic, at this point, were making inroads in attack. With five minutes remaining until the break, Trajkovski scored his second; playing a neat one-two with Oliver Green at the edge of the box to leave himself with only Babic to beat, before knocking the ball to the goalkeeper’s left to give Olympic a 3-0 lead at halftime.
The visitors began the second half determined to make a quick dent in Olympic’s three-goal lead, and were presented with a golden opportunity to do just that when Cristian Gonzalez was tripped up on the left side of the box in the 54th minute. Gonzalez stepped up to take the penalty that he had won, and sent a cool spot kick to the John Dimitrakas’ left, the keeper getting a touch to the ball as it rolled under him for a Sydney United 58 goal.
Olympic looked to push their lead back out to three clear goals immediately, and Adrian Vranic found himself with a chance directly in front of goal after some clever interplay between Andrew and Green, but he hit a weak shot straight at the goalkeeper. The home side’s next attack was more decidedly more fruitful, and James Andrew scored his second goal of the afternoon when Trajkovski ran clear of his defender on the right to clip a cross across the face of goal for the winger, who chested the ball into an empty net under virtually no pressure from defenders or goalkeeper.
With half an hour of the match remaining, Sydney United refused to lay down and let Olympic run riot, and Gonzalez had an opportunity to make it 4-2 when Maia played a one-two with Mark Moric on the edge of the area before squaring for the midfielder, but he shot high over the bar to waste the opportunity.
The three combined again minutes later, this time for a goal, when Moric played in Maia, whose chipped shot bounced down off the crossbar for Gonzalez in the middle, the midfielder bundling the ball over the line to give United a faint hope of mounting a comeback as the match drew to a close.
Olympic carried on as they had all game; streaming forward in counters of four or five players at a time as they sought to end the match with a fifth goal. Jack Green had a run through the midfield before lashing a wild shot over the bar from the top of the penalty box, before Andrew had a final chance with a volley from range that skewed well wide of the goal. The final whistle blew on a curious match, both sides ending as they had started: Olympic in fourth place, and Sydney United 58 in fifth.
Olympic coach Harry Paras was pleased to end the regular season on a winning note: "It was the last hit-out of the season, and both teams had an opportunity to make the top three today, so I’m happy with the result. In the second half we dropped off a bit and made a few changes, but still did enough to get over the line and we might’ve had a few more, but both teams were assured of a semi final position, so the fear of elimination wasn’t there."
Sydney United 58’s Davor Bajsic remained positive despite the defeat, prefering to look ahead to the finals rather than dwell on this result. "The first half wasn’t good – the second half was better, which is understandable, because we had a few players tired after playing yesterday. But we’re looking forward to next week, we’re in a semi final, and one of the main things is being refreshed for that game."
Sydney Olympic FC 4 (Andrews 24′, 28′, Trajkovski 41′, 60′)
Sydney United 58 FC 2 (Gonzalez 54′, 70′)
Sunday August 16, 2015
Belmore Sports Ground
Sydney Olympic FC: Andrew, Dimitrakas, Duncan, O. Green, J. Gren, Keir, Madonis, C. Morris, R. Morris, Trajkovski, Vranic
Subs: T. Bonomy, D. Bonomy, Nicolis, Petrovski, Youlley
Sydney United 58 FC: Babic, Borovickic, Camera, Fraser, Gonzalez, Kermack, Maia, McGing, Vlismas, Vrlic, Agamemnonos
Subs: Dias, Ephraim, Hasiuk, Brischetto, Moric
Manly United FC 1-2 Parramatta FC, at Cromer Park
Parramatta missed out on a place in the Semi Finals by just five points after ending their season with a win at Cromer Park, and finish in sixth place, six points ahead of Manly United.
Brandon Lemay scored a goal for Manly in a first half that ended 1-1, before Parramatta scored the only goal of the second half to come away with the win, their third in four matches.
While Parramatta closed out their season in winning form, Manly United suffered their eighth loss in nine matches after snapping the streak last weekend with a 4-2 win over South Coast Wolves.
Rockdale City Suns FC 3-0 Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC, at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns sent Bonnyrigg White Eagles back to the foot of the Grade 20s competition with a comprehensive 3-0 victory at Ilinden Sports Centre, the result going somewhat against recent form with Rockdale having previously picked up just two points since playing the same opponent in Round 14.
Goals from Matthew Lecce, Matteo Pandolfo and Kody Maude secured Rockdale’s third win of a difficult season, and condemned Bonnyrigg to a second defeat in a row after last week’s 2-1 loss to APIA Leichhardt.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers FC 1-0 Blacktown Spartans FC, at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt Tigers finished their season on a high after recording their second win in as many weeks, a 1-0 win over Blacktown Spartans at Lambert Park.
Rami Alassmi scored the only goal of the game for the the home side in the second half, with goalkeeper Christopher Moore holding the Spartans out for the full ninety minutes to give APIA their fourth clean sheet of the season.
APIA finish the regular season in ninth place, five points ahead of the Spartans in tenth.
Blacktown City FC 3-1 Sutherland Sharks FC, at Lilys Football Centre
Premiers Blacktown City laid down a marker for their run at the Championship with a 3-1 defeat of Sutherland Sharks at Lilys Football Centre, with goals coming from regular scorer Juan Zapata and 18s player Jake Borromeo.
Borromeo scored twice as the Sharks suffered their fourth loss in six matches, ultimately finishing second, and eight points, behind Blacktown in first.
Sutherland will look forward to a Semi Final next week, while Blacktown City will have time to rest ahead of their next match after finishing top of the Grade 20s competition ladder.
South Coast Wolves FC 0-1 Marconi Stallions FC, at WIN Stadium
Marconi won 1-0 over South Coast Wolves at Win Stadium to leapfrog Sydney Olympic into third place, securing a home semi final against Olympic next weekend.
After an indifferent run of results saw the Stallions dumped from the race for the Premiership during the final weeks of the regular season, this win puts them back on track for a solid run at the bigger prize, though they will hardly relish the opportunity to face one of the competition’s form sides in Olympic in the first week of the finals.
The Wolves finish their season in eighth place after their second loss in as many weeks.
– by Max Grieve, PS4 National Premier Leagues Grade 20s Reporter