Sydney Olympic defeated Hakoah Sydney City 4-3 in an exhilarating Round 19 PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s clash at Belmore Sports Ground.
In the days of the National Soccer League this game between these two teams was always top billing and an event not to be missed – today’s contest was little different. For the neutral spectator it was a thriller indeed.
Two early Joshua Gaspari goals gave the home team a 2-0 lead inside the first 15 minutes but Hakoah fired back from the penalty spot soon after.
Jake Green’s 68th minute strike seemingly wrapped up the result for Olympic but the visitors had plenty of fight left.
An 82nd minute strike from Adrian Vranic and a 90th minute penalty from Neil Jablonski had Hakoah thinking they had stolen a point from the jaws of defeat.
However, Sydney Olympic had other ideas and Gaspari poked home to claim victory and his hat trick in with the final kick of the game sending the home support into raptures.
An early goal came to Sydney Olympic when Jason Madonis passed to Joshua Gaspari and he, with sheer determination, beat two defenders and opened the scoring in the fifth minute of play.
In the 10th minute Sydney Olympic came close to doubling their lead when Harris Gaitatzis charged dangerously into the box and with a powerful drive forced goalkeeper Anthony Costa into a nice save to turn the ball away for a corner.
Shortly afterwards Gaspari did score again when he turned the ball neatly into the net in the 14th minute. He latched onto the ball and curled it well into the back of the goal to double the score for the home side.
At this point the home side was well in control of the contest and anything could have been on the cards.
However, in the 20th minute, Hakoah Sydney City East did strike back. Andre De Jong was brought down in the box by a push in the back and referee James Lewis awarded a penalty. It was well taken by Paul Orgad and he sent goalkeeper Paul Henderson the wrong way.
In the 27th minute veteran Gavin Rae fired from just outside the box and the ball sailed narrowly over the crossbar as Hakoah came closer to squaring the ledger.
Sydney Olympic tried their luck in return seven minutes later when Gaspari tried to chip goalkeeper Anthony Costa, but some superb defending from Brad Walker on the line headed the ball away for a corner and saved the blushes of the Hakoah custodian.
Route-one football took place in the 43rd minute and it ended with a diagonal shot from Adrian Vranic that goalkeeper Henderson did well to save low down.
The contest, even though it was nearing the break, was far from over and there was more action late in the first stanza of play.
In the 45th minute Jason Madonis nearly scored when from just outside the box he turned beautifully and hit the crossbar. It was very close indeed.
In the second half both sides started cautiously but in the 65’ minute Christopher Gligor volleyed just over the crossbar for Sydney Olympic.
In the 67th minute a cross from the left reached Howard Fondyke who played it back to Gaspari who hit the crossbar. It was very close for the home side as they mounted the pressure.
A minute later though a quickly taken free kick reached Jake Green in the box and while everyone was caught somewhat off guard, he drilled the ball past Costa to score Sydney Olympic’s third goal.
In the 75th minute an accurate corner by Harris Gaitatzis reached Mitch Stamatellis who out jumped all and sundry and put the ball over the crossbar by only an inch or two.
In the 82nd minute a square ball across the face of goal reached an unmarked Adrian Vranic who simply had the task of tapping it in to an unguarded net. It was now 3-2 and game on.
In the 89th minute Jean-Pierre Hakiri brought Vranic down in the box and referee Lewis awarded Hakoah their second penalty of the evening. Neil Jablonski made no mistake from the spot and it was now 3-3.
However, a late goal in the 92nd minute sealed the victory for Sydney Olympic. A long ball forward bounced high into the area high and a great volley by Gaspari sent the home fans into raptures. It was his third goal of the evening in a great display.
After the game Sydney Olympic’s coach Grant Lee was happy to have achieved the full three points but clearly understood how close his side came to almost throwing away two of them.
“It was a fantastic game and it could have been 8-2 because we had multiple chances,” he said.
“Every week there are mistakes made and as an ex player I just shake my head. But in this league when you are fighting to get into the top five, then it’s hard work from there.
“Our young team is doing extremely well but a lot of the things that happen we bring on ourselves because of some silly decisions and it hurts us in the end. When we were controlling the game so well, we did some things that were dumb and that allowed our opponents back into the game.
“We have three or four 18 and 19 year olds across the park and they are doing well; they are working hard and they are giving the fans something to cheer about.
“Everything is up to us now because we are in fifth spot and we play two teams who are below us and Rockdale who are above us, so to make the five is on no one else’s shoulders except our own.”
Over in the Hakoah Sydney City dressing room coach Mark Robertson was putting on a brave face despite his team letting a draw slip away from them at the end.
“You would have enjoyed it as a spectator because they were lots of goals,” he said. “I spoke to our team about a few different things but they tried their hardest.
“I need to have look again at the goals because we put out what we have got [available] and worked around it, but yes, you can’t concede goals like that in the end.
“We have a few injuries. On Monday we had only 18 players training out of 40, so that’s a fair few out.”
Sydney Olympic: 4 (Gaspari 5’, Gaspari 14’, Green 68’, Gaspari 92’)
Hakoah Sydney City East: 3 (Orgad (pen.) 20’, Vranic 82’, Jablonski (pen.) 90’)
Sunday 24th July 2016
Belmore Sports Ground
Referee: James Lewis
Assistant Referees: James Tesoriero, Danny Horstead
Fourth Official: Brandon Lovric
Sydney Olympic: 1. HENDERSON Paul, 5. MADONIS Jason, 6. STAMATELLIS Mitch, 7. ANGEL William, 8. FONDYKE Howard (51. MALFARA Sebastian 80’), 10. GAITATZIS Harris, 14. GREEN Jake, 15. DE MARIGNY Jake (82. ANDRICOPOULOS Nikita 71’), 37. MONTFORD Eoin (67. HAKIRI Jean-Pierre 61’) 90. GASPARI Joshua, 92. GLIGOR Christopher
Substitutes not used: 20. CRICKMORE Denver, 26. MORRIS Cohan
Yellow Cards: Madonis 43’, De Marigny 46’, Hakiri, 88’, Gaspari 86’, Stamatellis 90’
Red Cards: Nil
Hakoah Sydney City East: 1. COSTA Anthony, 4. WALKER Brad, 5. BOWDEN-HAASE Nathan, 8. ORGAD Paul (19. CUTRI Domenic 80’)11. RAE Gavin, 15. BANDUR Jacob, 17. MUNDELL Jordan, 23. DE JONG Andre, 26. DIMOPOULOS Jonathan (9. JABLONSKI Neil 63’), 31. LOPES Kevin (2. WOLANSKI Remy 86’), 33. VRANIC Adrian.
Substitutes not used: 14. JONES Lee, 20. McKENZIE Matthew
Yellow Cards: Bowden-Haase 58’, Costa 90’
Red Cards: Nil
-by Joe Russo, PlayStation®National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Reporter, at Belmore Sports Ground