Marconi Stallions will face Blacktown City FC in the PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Grade 20s Grand Final next weekend at Leichhardt Oval after beating Sydney Olympic 4-2 in the Preliminary Final at Lilys Football Centre on Sunday afternoon.
Marconi Stallions FC 4-2 Sydney Olympic FC, Sunday 12.30pm at Lilys Football Centre
An own goal gave Marconi an early lead before Olympic drew level at 1-1 ten minutes before halftime, but two quick goals from Ryan Peterson gave the Stallions a 3-1 lead at the break. Marcus Donatiello and Adrian Vranic traded goals in the second half as Marconi held out against a late Olympic surge to advance to next week’s Grand Final.
After the game, Marconi coach Nick Dimovski said his side were prepared for their opponents to attack from the outset, and set up with defense in mind against an Olympic team that scored ten goals in its two previous finals matches. Indeed, Olympic won a corner almost immediately from the kickoff, but the Stallions were able to clear the threat and work towards establishing control.
They were afforded a slice of good fortune after just six minutes when Jack Press darted along the right side of the penalty area to the byline to square a pass across the face of goal, where it deflected off a Sydney Olympic defender past goalkeeper John Dimitrakis.
Up 1-0, Marconi looked to consolidate their lead with a quick second, and Ryan Peterson played a one-two with Brandon Vella before cutting the ball back for Marcus Donatiello to finish past Dimitrakis, but the linesman had raised his flag, and the play was called back for an Olympic free kick. Peterson had a shot himself shortly after, sending the ball whistling just over the crossbar.
Olympic’s attack was hampered from kickoff, with the influential James Andrew starting on the wing despite nursing an injury, and his withdrawal in the 20th minute gave way to more positive periods of play for the side chasing an equaliser.
Jack Green lifted a ball over the top the Marconi backline for Adrian Vranic to collect on the edge of the box, but he mistimed his shot as the ball dropped over his shoulder, sending the ball weakly towards goal for Kristian Sekutkoski to collect.
Olympic won a series of corners as the halftime break approached, and equalised in the 37th minute with a scrappy goal, finished by Ryan Keir. Cohan Morris collected a corner just off the far post and smacked a volley back across goal but dragged his shot toward Keir, standing on the penalty spot, who slotted the ball under Sekutkoski to level the score at 1-1.
Olympic’s celebrations were short-lived, however, as Ryan Peterson broke clear of the defensive line almost immediately after the restart and hit a slow, bobbling shot towards the far post which dribbled just wide of Dimitrakis’ reach; sneaking inside the far post to restore Marconi’s lead.
Just two minutes after putting his a goal in front, Peterson struck again; rising on the edge of the six yard box to meet Callum Fitzpatrick’s corner and punch a header high above the defenders on the line to take Marconi to a 3-1 lead at halftime.
The second half failed to live up to the quality of the first, as Marconi looked to hold their advantage and Olympic tired in attack.
In the 52nd minute, Brandon Vella skipped through the Olympic defense and shot back across Dimitrakis, who parried a save back for Marcus Donatiello to follow up; the winger finishing into the unguarded net to give Marconi a seemingly unassailable lead.
Donatiello might have added a fifth when Dimitrakis rushed out to claim a lobbed through ball on the edge of the penalty box and missed the ball, but he swivelled and volleyed the ball over the empty goal.
Adrian Vranic pulled a goal back for Olympic just after the hour, following in a shot from Michael Trajkovski that Kristian Sekutkoski could only palm into the path of the striker for his seventh goal in just three matches.
Marconi refused to be rattled by Olympic’s second goal, and continued to take the game to their opponents. Peterson looked set to complete his hattrick when he shaped to shoot on the edge of the box with just the goalkeeper to beat, but he pulled his shot wide of the far post, with Marcus Donatiello calling for the ball in space to his left.
Jason Madonis dropped deep to hit long, diagonal balls into the box for Vranic as match drew to a close, but the Marconi defense held firm to preserve the 4-2 scoreline to the final whistle.
Marconi’s Nick Dimovski "We haven’t lost two in a row in a while and we were keen to avoid having that happen today – we set up a bit differently to last week, because we knew Sydney Olympic have scored a lot of goals in their last couple of games.
"We knew that if we weathered the storm and were still the arm wrestle at the 30 minute mark we’d still be a chance, and I’m just so proud for the boys that we’re playing in the grand final next week."
Harry Paras was gracious in defeat, admitting that his side were second best to the Stallions on the day. "James Andrew was injured before the game but we wanted to test him out, and Oliver Green was missing too after pulling up with a sore hamstring in the last few minutes against Sutherland, so we were a bit short on numbers.
"But that doesn’t matter – I thought Marconi were better. They started better and out-hustled us; they won most of their challenges. After they scored their first goal, we came back into it and in the end we might’ve created enough chances to win, but it didn’t happen for us today."
Marconi Stallions FC 4 (OG 6′, Peterson 38′, 40′, Donatiello 52′)
Sydney Olympic FC 2 (Keir 37′, Vranic 63′)
Sunday September 6, 2015
Lilys Football Centre
Marconi Stallions FC: Blair, DeMarigny, Donatiello, Fabiano, Fitzpatrick, Peterson, Press, Schmidt, Sekutkoski, Stewart, Vella
Subs: Chianese, Panayi, Andricopolous, Roebuck, Sfiligoi
Sydney Olympic FC: Andrew, Dimitrakas, Duncan, Green, Keir, Madonis, C. Morris, S. Morris, Nicolis, Trajkovski, Vranic,
Subs: D. Bonomy, T. Bonomy, Petrovski, Youlley, Gollan
– by Max Grieve, PS4 National Premier Leagues Grade 20s Reporter