Sydney Olympic has heaped more pressure on the Wollongong Wolves and has further pushed its claims for a top five finals series finish with a 2-1 victory in their PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s clash at WIN Stadium.
A first half double from former Australian youth international and ex-Perth Glory and Sydney FC youngster Hagi Gligor sent them on the way before Nicolas Bernal pulled one back from the spot. There were plenty of opportunities for both sides in the second half but Olympic were able to hold on for a tight victory.
The first real chance of the game fell to the Wolves in the 12th minute when a dangerous free kick was whipped in and found the head of defender James Baldacchino whose shot forced the goalkeeper into a good save.
However, it was the visitors who would take the lead in the 18th minute when a cross from Jake Green found the onrushing Gligor who poked it home from just outside the six yard box.
A neat passage of play that started with David Stojic almost ended with him finishing it off but his final touch let him down as the ball eventually went behind for a goal kick.
Olympic almost doubled their lead in the 30th minute when a neat chip found Harris Gaitatzis but he could only put the ball over the bar.
Two minutes later they went even closer when a corner found the head of Mitch Stamatellis but his shot cannoned off the crossbar and away leaving the score at 1-0.
It was all the visitors as the first half moved along and they had an advantage on a counter attack. After a half clearance from the Wolves, the ball fell to Jake Green but his shot was well blocked by Kota Kawase.
Sydney Olympic kept the pressure on and had their second goal in the 43rd minute when Christopher Gligor got his second after a neat passage of play as the travelling side went into the break with a 2-0 lead.
It was the home side that started stronger as Nicolas Bernal made some inroads into the box but was brought down by Eoin Montford for a penalty.
Bernal stepped up to convert his own penalty and was able to put it into the back of the net despite a touch from Olympic goal keeper, Paul Henderson, making it 2-1.
A wicked cross from Joshua Macdonald in the 53rd minute found Bernal who’s glancing header forced Henderson into a world-class save to keep it from becoming the equalizer.
From the resulting corner, the home side were again able to make contact but could only put the ball narrowly wide for a goal kick and some relieving pressure for the visitors.
In the 61st minute Wollongong Wolves had a great chance to equalize as Bernal turned his defender inside and out before putting a cross into the middle that was not able to be cleared. Defender Chris Price came running through on the follow up but his shot was blocked as Olympic held off another attacker foray.
Bernal was testing the visitors defence time after time and in the 64th minute had a free header just outside the six yard box but he couldn’t generate enough power with his back to goal as the ball fell to Paul Henderson.
The ball made its way up the field two minutes later on a counter attack and with some space last week’s three-goal hero, Joshua Gaspari, had a long range shot that went wide of the mark.
Both teams were threatening with half chances as the minutes wore down, but neither side could break the game open with ten minutes to play.
However, Sydney Olympic had a chance to seal the game in the 85th minute when a long range effort from Harris Gaitatzis made Justin Pasfield work hard as he tipped it over the bar for a corner that resulted in a Wolves clearance.
Bernal was involved in yet another chance for the home side in the 87th minute when he skinned his defender and cut inside but his shot was deflected away for a corner.
There would be late drama in the match when in the 3rd minute of stoppage time; Sam Matthews received a straight red card for a hard challenge with Olympic trying to push the ball up the field. A scuffle ensued which saw yellow cards for both Zackary Mackenzie and Joshua Macdonald.
Olympic restarted the match and Wollongong would have one more chance but ultimately the travelling team would hold on for the 2-1 victory and heap more pressure on the home side in their battle to avoid relegation.
Wollongong Wolves head coach, Jacob Timpano, was again proud of his team’s effort but was left ruing after another game without a result.
“Anyone that watched today’s game, you would have seen that we should have got a result from it,” he said.
“I thought we dominated from start to finish and made Olympic adjust to the way they play in the first half but again a couple of soft goals and good finishes.”
“We’re proud of the effort because from that sort of performance we should have probably won the game or at least got a draw but we go away with nothing.”
Sydney Olympic head coach, Grant Lee, was full of praise for the opposition’s effort.
“We started really well in the first half and you have to give Wollongong credit, they’re a very good side to beat down here,” he said.
“They (Wollongong) changed it up and were chasing the game in the second half, which we knew they would, and push people more forward and switch ball to put us under a bit of pressure.”
“With our young team we sort of shoot ourselves in the foot a bit, we give away a stupid penalty and then you’re back under the pump again. To their credit they pushed hard and the second half could have gone either way.”
Wollongong Wolves: 1 (Bernal 48’)
Sydney Olympic FC: 2 (Gligor 18’, 43’)
Sunday 31st July 2016.
WIN Stadium, Wollongong.
Wollongong Wolves: 1. PASFIELD Justin 2. KAWASE Kota 3. MADDEN Darcy (16. ZUCCO Ben 73’) 5. BALDACCHINO James 6. MACKENZIE Zachary 7. PRICE Chris 8. GRIFFIN Brendan 10. STOJIC David (11. DIMOSKI Stefan 77’) 18. BERNAL Nicholas 19. MACDONALD Joshua 23. MATTHEWS Sam
Substitutes Not Used: 12. COLLISON Daniel 15. LAZAREVSKI Danny 17. ZUCCO Ricky
Yellow Cards: BERNAL 20’ KAWASE 22’, MACKENZIE 90+3, MACDONALD 90+3
Red Cards: MATTHEWS 90 +3
Sydney Olympic FC: 1. HENDERSON Paul 7. ANGEL William 6. STAMATELLIS Mitch 15. DE MARIGNY Jake 90. GASPARI Joshua 14. GREEN Jake (16. GREEN Oliver 69’) 92. GLIGOR (HAGI) Christopher 5. MADONIS Jason 10. GAITATZIS Harris 37. MONTFORD Eoin (2. SORGE Brayden 75’) 68. HAKIRI Jean-Pierre (8. FONDYKE Howard 80’)
Substitutes Not Used: 20. CRICKMORE Denver 3. TOMELIC Anthony
Yellow Cards: ANGEL 33’, MONTFORD 48’, HAKIRI 64’
Red Cards: Nil
-By Jake Bull, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at WIN Stadium, Wollongong.