There’s no room for error in finals football, and Sydney Olympic FC made very few at Lambert Park on Sunday afternoon.
Olympic put in a classy, controlled performance against South Coast Wolves FC to progress in the PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Finals Series.
The Wolves were brave in their own right, putting in a great shift for the Elimination Semi Final, but lacked the class of Olympic in the final third, which ultimately proved the difference.
Goals in the first and second halves from Dimitri Hatzimouratis and then Harris Gaitatzis set the sides apart.
Grant Lee’s side started the game much the stronger and pushed the pace straight form kick-off.
Hatzimouratis gave an early sign of things to come when he stung the palms of Manos after just four minutes, before Scott Balderson kicked off his own impressive shift with a tame effort only two minutes later.
As Olympic piled on the pressure, Michael Gaitatzis and Taiga Soeda both got forward to try their luck with little success.
Still, the early, ominous signs were there for the Wolves who struggled to find a lot of time on the ball, despite the best screening efforts of Zachary Mackenzie in defensive midfield.
Mackenzie distributed the ball well, but as the Wolves tried to release Peter Simonoski and Jordan Murray behind the brilliantly Peter Markovic-marshalled Olympic unsuccessfully.
Ben Zucco was industrious behind the South Coast Wolves front two and had the Wolves best chance of the half when an inspired bit of skill from a cornered Simonoski put the Wolves’ front man in behind.
His cutback found Zucco, but he was blocked out of a shot on goal and seemingly injured in the process, as he was withdrawn shortly after.
The brief Wolves’ spell of dominance was quickly ended and it was Olympic who regained control of the contest.
Soon enough, that dominance was shown on the scoreboard as Hatzimouratis finally got his deserved goal following some superb plat down Olympic’s right flank.
Brayden Sorge did brilliantly to win a header down towards Michael Gaitatzis, who burned his full-back and slipped a low-cross towards goal which Hatzimouratis gratefully tucked away.
Olympic comfortably saw out the half to take in a 1-0 lead into the half-time break, but they met a hungry Wolves outfit after it.
Timpano’s men returned to the field with renewed fire in their bellies as Simonoski tried to force the issue himself, moving the ball into the forward line almost by himself.
He was eventually crowded out of a shot just two minutes after the restart, sparking an avalanche of goalmouth action.
Soeda hit a fierce long-range effort at the other end of the field to test Manos, before the Wolves broke away through Murray, whose high cross was brilliantly collected by Paul Henderson.
Henderson wasted no time in launching a counter-attack of Olympic’s own which eventually saw a brilliant run fro full-back Troy Danaskos result in a blocked shot.
At the other end, Murray looked like a man possessed chasing down everything in sight, but to ultimately no avail, as he struggled to create much in the way of turnovers out of a very calm and controlled Olympic defence.
With Wolves’ enjoying a short period of control, Olympic quickly regained control, but had to wait until the 82nd minute to seal the result.
Harris Gaitatzis smashed home from close range after being released down the left side of the park.
A smart step over delayed the challenge, before Gaitatzis pushed the ball beyond his marker and slammed home to seal progression to the next round.
For Olympic coach, Grant Lee, the result and performance were pleasing, particularly after the side looked to be struggling midway through the season.
“We had a bit of a bad patch in the middle of the season, more mental than physical, and over the last six weeks we’ve got over it and build up very nicely,” Lee said.
“I think from last year, the finals run we had then, and the football we played after with the FFA Cup, proved we can play good football and turn at the start of the year was exceptional … but its been a long period of hard, intense football.
“It wasn’t the physical aspect, more the mental, because for young kids its hard to know how to play that intensity week in, week out, but we’ve learned how to be a real patient and disciplined team and play good Finals football.”
Wolves coach Jacob Timpano said just making finals was an achievement for a side that was at the bottom of the table for much of the early days of the season.
“I think the first half we were outplayed, and the quick deck made it hard for us and we didn’t cope well with the ball speed on the synthetic surface,” Timpano said.
“We gave a really good response in the second half, so I was pleased with that, and I think that we were maybe unlucky not to equalize, but overall they were the better side.
“It’s a superb effort just to be here. We were second bottom after 13 rounds and its an inexperienced squad, so I think this run will hold us in good stead for next year.”
Sydney Olympic FC 2 (Hatzimouratis 36’, H. Gaitatzis 82’)
South Coast Wolves FC 0
Sunday August 23, 2015
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: Christopher Young
Assistant Referees: Andrej Giev & Raymond Osborne
Fourth Official: Adrian Arndt
Sydney Olympic FC: Balderson (Tsattalios 70’), Danaskos, H Gaitatzis (Madonis 86’), M Gaitatzis (Shirai 64’), Hatzimouratis, Henderson, Hooper, Markovic, Soeda, Sorge, Spyrakis
Substitutes not used: Egger, Madonis, Sadaka, Shirai, Tsattalios
Yellow Cards: Spyrakis 63’, Markovic 90’
South Coast Wolves FC: Baldacchino, Griffin (Wilson 76’), Mackenzie, Madden, Manos, Matthews, Murray, O’Rourke, Price, Simonoski, Zucco (La Valle 32’)
Substitutes not used: Al Saad, Hamilton, La Valle, Wilson, Proia
Yellow Cards: Zucco 25’, La Valle 63’, Mackenzie 72’, Madden 90’
-By Matthew Galea, National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Editor, at Lambert Park