A MASTERCLASS from goalkeeper Paul Henderson saw Sydney Olympic FC escape Cromer Park with a 1-1 draw against Manly United on Friday night.
The 40-year-old was brilliant between the sticks during the PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s clash, denying the home side on countless occasions.
In what was a dour match at times due to heavy rain, United should have scored in the first minute.
A Luke Giverin free kick was spilt by Henderson on the six-yard box, but the one time Northern Spirit shot stopper recovered well to block the follow up effort from point blank range.
Referee Jerry Bitas was prepared to let plenty of challenges ride in the greasy conditions early on, which made for a good spectacle.
On 23 minutes Manly keeper Dylan Mitchell had to be alert to stop an effort from distance via the boot of Jake De Marigny.
With 31 minutes played the class of United’s Richie Cardozo was on full display.
The journeyman striker showed tremendous poise on the ball to free teammate Adam Parkhouse down the left flank.
He is turn fired a decent delivery to the far post which eluded Dejan Pandurevic.
The in form striker reacted well, collecting the loose ball and shooting just over the crossbar.
Moments later Pandurevic opened the scoring on 36 minutes and his eighth for the year.
Right back Kieren Paull earnt the set piece with a trademark determined run and Giverin whipped in a great ball which Pandurevic arrowed in at the near post with a clinical header.
Skipper Brendan Cholakian saw an effort whistle past the post with Henderson beaten on 42 minutes.
The gloveman was made to work for his wage – in the space of three minutes he personally denied United three times.
On 50′ minutes Giverin stung his palms with a shot from 18 yards and seconds later Henderson parried a goalbound strike from Pandurevic to safety.
Cholakian thought he had scored on 52 minutes but Henderson tipped his effort over the bar.
With an hour played Pandurevic went close again, only for – you guessed it – Henderson to stand tall when it mattered.
With United not taking their hatful of chances, you sensed the confidence rising of Grant Lee’s squad.
Striker Jacob Boutoubia fired a warning shot when he curled an effort wide on 67 minutes and moments later Olympic had their equaliser.
Substitute Joshua Gaspari was rewarded for his energy, eventually firing past Mitchell after a determined run into the area on 69 minutes.
It was Gaspari’s first goal for his new club in his debut match with the Blues since switching from the Western Sydney Wanderers’ National Youth League side.
Both sides cleared their benches late on in a bit to snare three points – to no avail.
Henderson denied Cholakian late on and in time added on, and United also had a shot cleared off the line which summed up their night.
Sydney Olympic FC coach Grant Lee felt it was a game of two halves.
"I thought we were good in the first half, they scored off a corner late on,” he said.
"I wouldn’t say we were dominating, but we were holding our own.
"After the break they (Manly) shaded us….but the signs are there, we are getting better.
"Hendo (Henderson) kept us in it late, he showed his class."
Cholakian was a frustrated figure at fulltime.
"It is two points dropped again tonight,” he said.
"We played well in patches, but it is the same old story – we are not putting teams to bed by missing chances.
"We just have to move on and get points elsewhere."
Manly United 1 (Dejan Pandurevic 36′)
Sydney Olympic FC 1 (Joshua Gaspari 69′)
Cromer Park, Friday June 3
Referee: Jerry Bitas
Assistant referees: S.Brennan, T.Lee
Fourth official: J.Morales
Manly United: 1.MITCHELL Dylan, 2.PAULL Kieren, (23.GALBRAITH Hamish 89′) 3.LOBB Jamie, 4.OUGHTRED Travis, 8.FERGUSON Dom, 9.CARDOZO Richie, (36.SEPAROVICH Nathan 81′) 10.CHOLAKIAN Brendan, 11.PARKHOUSE Adam, 14.PANDUREVIC Dejan, 18.BRAGG Daniel, (24.HANCOCK Aidan 73′) 22.GIVERIN Luke
Substitutes not used: 20.CARTER Will, 12.GALLAGHER Henry
Yellow cards: Ferguson 17′, Cardozo 76′
Red cards: Nil
Sydney Olympic FC: 1.HENDERSON Paul, 7.ANGEL William, 15.DE MARIGNY Jake, 10.GAITATZIS Harris, (67.GASPARI Joshua 58′) 16.GREEN Oliver, 5.MADONIS Jason, 37.MONTFORD Eoin, (33.TSATTLIOS Nik 68′) 26.MORRIS Cohan, 6.STAMATELLIS Mitchell, 3.TOMELIC Anthony, 11.BOUTOUBIA Jacob (22.GAITATZIS Michael 75′)
Substitutes not used: 4.EGGER Leigh, 20.CRICKMORE Denver
Yellow cards: Gaspari 80′, De Marigny 83′
Red cards: Nil
*Player Ratings will be hidden till the end of the season where Football NSW will announce the 2016 PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s Team of the Year