Lambert Park hosted an exciting opening Round 1 clash of the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s season as APIA Leichhardt and Sydney Olympic shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.
The result was a fair reflection of a tough and hard fought match between the two sides.
In the sixth minute of play a wonderful cross from the right by Nathan Millgate found Nicholas Olsen who, from close range, forced Paul Henderson into a great reflex save.
Shortly afterwards the Tigers were at it again when Tasuku Sekiya, from the edge of the box, hit the crossbar with another marvelous attempt.
It was clear from the outset that the home side were out to win given their early pressure.
Indeed in the 17th minute the early pressure paid off when Sekiya opened the scoring.
Sekiya bundled the ball into the back of the net despite the best efforts of Olympic shotstopper Paul Henderson and Will Angel to knock it away.
Sydney Olympic had a golden chance to equalise in the 35th minute when Chris Triantis found himself all alone and facing APIA goalkeeper Ryan Norval.
Fortunately for the home side the Tigers custodian beautifully turned the ball away for a corner with his feet.
However, the Olympic faithful didn’t have long to wait because in the 37th minute Harris Gaitatzis, with a great shot from distance, evened the ledger with an early contender for goal of the season.
The sides went into the half time break deadlocked at 1-1.
In the second half, both teams were keen to give nothing away as the early minutes transformed into a tightly contested midfield battle.
In the 59th minute Nick Olsen missed a guilt edged chance when his volley from outside the box came off the side of his boot and sailed wide.
Sydney Olympic had a chance in the 66th minute when Will Angel’s shot from the byline forced a great reflex save from APIA keeper Norval.
APIA Leichhardt should have taken the lead in the 71st minute when Franco Parisi played through a delightful ball to Sekiya but he was unable to put it past Henderson in the Olympic net.
In the 88th minute, APIA’s Adrian Ucchino’s shot from outside the penalty area flew just over the crossbar and despite six minutes of added time at the end, there were to be no further opportunities for either side.
APIA Leichhardt’s new coach John Carnevale expressed his satisfaction with his side’s performance.
“It certainly was a great contest and you wouldn’t expect anything less when APIA play Sydney Olympic,” he said.
“I was fairly happy for the boys because we created a host of opportunities and on any other day we most probably would have found the back of the net.
“In the first game of the season you obviously want to take three points but it gives us something for us to build on. We are making progress and look forward to playing Parramatta next week.”
Over in the Sydney Olympic dressing room Grant Lee, once again in charge of the Belmore-based club, expressed his satisfaction too given that Sydney Olympic is in many ways a new team from last year.
“It was a very hard one for us today because there has been a lot happening during the off season,” he said.
“We lost nine out of our starting 16 players and we also lost players to the A-League and the big-spending clubs in our own league. So in a way we were victims of our own success.
“I was very happy with our game today because we have built a team and to get them going against a big-spending club like APIA is a lovely experience and hopefully we are going to build on that and get better.”
APIA Leichhardt 1 (Sekiya 17’)
Sydney Olympic 1 (H. Gaitatzis 37’)
Sunday 13th March 2016
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Nicholas Backo, Valerio Bertuccioli
Fourth Official: Jerry Bitas
APIA Leichhardt: Norval; Millgate, Muata-Marlow, O’Connell, D’Apuzzo (Fsadni 81’), Olsen, Sekiya, Symons, Ucchino, Elasi (Biczo 73’), Parisi (Hasegawa 83’).
Substitutes not used: Bradley, Liiband
Yellow Cards: D’Apuzzo 21’, Hasegawa 85’
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney Olympic: Henderson; Angel (Cindric 74’), Egger, Fondyke, H.Gaitatzis, Madonis, Sorge (Montford 59’), Stamatellis, Tomelic, Triantis (M.Gaitatzis 68’), Tsattalios.
Substitutes not used: Boutoubia, Crickmore
Yellow Cards: Fondyke 38’, Tomelic 50’, Stamatellis 52’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Harris Gaitatzis (SO)
2 – Sean Symons (ALT)
1 – Anthony Tomelic (SO)
-by Joe Russo, PlayStation® National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at Lambert Park, Leichhardt.