Sydney Olympic and Bonnyrigg White Eagles prevailed on penalties in a thrilling first stage of the 2016 PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s U20 finals series.
Sutherland Sharks 1-1 Sydney Olympic, Saturday 4.30pm at Lily’s Football Centre
Sydney Olympic won 5-4 on penalties
The late season flight of Sydney Olympic continues to roll on after the Blues defeated Sutherland Sharks 5-4 on penalties in their elimination final at Lilys Football Centre.
Aedon Kyra was the hero from the penalty spot for John Theodoropoulos’ side with the late substitute calmly slotting the decisive penalty after the two teams remained locked at 1-1 after 120 minutes.
Olympic had earlier looked on course to edge out the Sharks in the course of normal time when Oliver Green avenged a horror first half miss to bury Nikita Andricopoulos’ cross at the back post with five minutes remaining.
But Sutherland forced extra time in stunning fashion when Patrick O’Shea found an open goal from forty-five metres following a miscued clearance from Olympic gloveman Ezequiel Consoni.
It was a poor misjudgement from the Belmore shot stopper who had otherwise remained largely untroubled throughout the course of the encounter but Consoni made amends with a fine diving stop to deny Sharks defender Judd Duncan in the shoot out to aid Olympic on their way into next weekend’s preliminary final against APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
Olympic have been plagued by inconsistency in their frustrating regular season but after sneaking into fifth position at the expense of reigning champions Blacktown City, the competition outsiders will certainly fancy their chances at continuing their unexpected charge into finals football.
Probably the more threatening outfit on the afternoon, it looked like it would be another day of regrets for Olympic who missed a slew of attainable opportunities throughout the course of ninety minutes.
Central defender and skipper James Combes marshalled the considerable threat of Jack Press and Jeremy Cox steadily during the pulsating encounter and provided the matches best chance after heading Michael Loupis’ first-half free kick back across goal only for an unmarked Oliver Green to nudge the ball wide of the post.
Fortunately for the Olympic midfielder, Green made no mistake when a chance of similar making fell his way five minutes before time, tapping home in the same position after Joshua Gaspari and Andricopolous combined on the edge of the box.
The opener had been a long time coming for the visitors, who had earlier been kept at bay spectacularly by Sutherland goalkeeper Nikolas Loe, with an incredible reaction save from Loupis at point blank range being the pick of several excellent stops.
Despite bolstering their injury hit squad with first-team apprentices Jack Press and Chris McStay, Sutherland continued their shaky form at Lily’s and struggled to impose their expansive brand of possession football on the contest.
In fact, rampaging fullback Michael Kouta resembled one of Sutherland’s most potent attacking weapons on an occasion where the likes of Press, winger Nathan Roberts and leading marksman Jeremy Cox all struggled for freedom in the final third.
But when Consoni came rushing off his line to clear a seemingly innocuous ball down field in the matches dying moments, substitute midfielder Patrick O’Shea gratefully accepted the lifeline with a nerveless strike from the centre-circle to force extra time.
After a fruitless period of extra time, the Sharks were unable to hold their nerve from 12 yards out with Kyra netting the crucial fifth penalty to consign Sutherland to a disappointing first stage exit.
Sutherland Sharks 1 (O’Shea 90’)
Sydney Olympic 1 (Green 85’)
Olympic won 5-4 on penalties
Saturday 20th August, 2016
Lilys Football Centre, Seven Hills
Sutherland Sharks: 21. Nikolas Loe, 40. Michael Kouta, 25. Dau Akol, 18. Jarrod Benham, 19. Callum Fitzpatrick (14. Patrick O’Shea 80’) 31. Robert Watson, 33. Thomas Papa, 8. Christopher McStay, 27. Nathan Roberts (38. Judd Duncan 105’), 7. Jack Press, 13. Jeremy Cox (5. Mattias Da Silva Santos 78’)
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Michael Figueira, 20. Ryan Blakeley
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
Sydney Olympic: 82. Nikita Andricopoulos, 38. Stephen Athanaseris, 84. Brian Caulker (81. Aedon Kyra 117’), 50. James Combes, 85. Ezequiel Consoni (GK), 16. Oliver Green, 13. Jake De Marigny (48. Peter Liaskos 85’), 90. Joshua Gaspari, 40. Steven Katsionis, 52. Michael Loupis (39. Manoli Nicolau 69’), 37. Eoin Montford
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Evan David, 49. Adrian Hadjisocratous
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1-1 APIA Leichhardt Tigers, Sunday 12.30pm at Lilys Football Centre
Bonnyrigg White Eagles won 5-4 on penalties
Bonnyrigg White Eagles defeated APIA Leichhardt Tigers 5-4 on penalties in their qualifying final at Lilys Football Centre after some wasteful APIA finishing and magnificent goalkeeping from Bonnyrigg’s Stevan Savicic saw the two sides held in a 1-1 deadlock after 120 minutes.
The White Eagles were in debt to their shot stopper Savicic who repelled a catalogue of APIA chances in normal time whilst the Bonnyrigg custodian also delivered the decisive shoot out save from Tigers midfielder Samuel Gulisano to conclude an entertaining two hours of finals action in Seven Hills.
An early opening goal from Matthew Cook saw APIA take a deserved lead midway through the first half, but the failure to capitalize on a shaky defensive performance from Stephen Sigmund’s side, with competition golden boot winner Duncan Stewart particularly wasteful, will see the third-place finishers take on Sydney Olympic in the preliminary finals next weekend.
Although it was a far from perfect showing from the White Eagles, Bonnyrigg regathered themselves after a disastrous first half and restored parity quickly into the second half with Dalibor Malesevic slotting home at the back post after a well-worked attacking foray.
Yet, from an APIA standpoint, Malesevic’s effort should have been a mere consolation after George Sidis’ outfit ran riot in the opening fort five minutes. Unusually fruitless in possession, Bonnyrigg were exposed on the transition time after time and only the profligacy of APIA’s normally-clinical frontmen spared the White Eagles from a significant half-time deficit.
On an afternoon where the APIA sharpshooter was in search of his 22nd strike of the campaign, Duncan Stewart could well have added a hatful to his collection of exceptional goals this season but the former Manly United product suffered an afternoon to forget after his side spurned the opportunity to meet the beach-siders in next weekend’s grand final play off.
Having taken the lead early on through Cook’s strike, Stewart will lament a series of superb chances to double APIA’s lead, especially when he fired a rebound over from the penalty spot after Savicic had denied brother Matthew one on one moments before.
The Stewart brothers had earlier combined for a golden opportunity when Duncan opted to square the ball across to Matthew who blazed over the crossbar with the goal at his mercy.
It left Bonnyrigg, who adopted a far more streetwise approach in the second stanza, to punish APIA for their wastefulness early in the following half. Midfielder Andre Guzman drove through the Tigers’ midfield after swift interchange with Hayden Tucker and supplied half-time substitute Dalibor Malesevic with a simple finish at the back post to restore parity.
Neither side could find a breakthrough during extra time, although Duncan Stewart went closest after smashing the underside of the post with a sweeping effort from the left with five minutes remaining.
After thwarting the Tigers throughout the course of normal time, Savicic further endeared himself to the Bonnyrigg faithful with a strong palm to deny Adrian Vlastelica from 12 yards, while the White Eagles keeper booked his side a date at Cromer Park with a decisive save from Gulisano to round off a thrilling escape.
“APIA were the better team today”, admitted Bonnyrigg manager Stephen Sigmund following the contest.
“They should have put us away in the first half.
“We’ve missed both Asmir Kadric and Martin Lo – who have been the best players for the first team in the last three or four weeks, but the likes of Luke Ivanovic and Taylor McDonald have come in and done a fantastic job.”
Bonnyrigg will meet Premiers Manly United at Cromer Park next Sunday, while APIA Leichhardt face Sydney Olympic on Saturday.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (Malesevic 62’)
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Cook 23’)
Sunday 21st August, 2016
Lilys Football Centre, Seven Hills
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 20. Stevan Savicic, 23. Damian Cupac, 24. Luke Debrot, 25. Leon Faria, 27. Andre Guzman, 11. Luke Ivanovic, 30. Nikola Krljar (28. Leandro Guzman 93’), 33. Adrea Mandic (36. Dalibor Malesevic 45’), 14. Taylor McDonald, 8. Hayden Tucker, 35. Kosta Zarafetas
Substitutes Not Used: 50. Jordan Geddes, 29. Zoran Kolundzic, 26. Nikola Kevmenovich
Yellow Cards: 14. Taylor McDonald 13’, 36. Dalibor Malesevic 49’, 27. Andre Guzman 73’
Red Cards: N/A
APIA Leichhardt Tigers: 25. Stephan Adattini, 28. Matthew Cook, 43. Dominic Cox, 27. Paul Galimi (35. Cameron Stephan 90’), 38. Samuel Gulisano, 29. Christopher Phillips, 31. Duncan Stewart, 30. Matthew Stewart, 50. Blake Tuxford, 41. Julian Francis Van Den Berg, 42. Adrian Vlastelica
Substitutes Not Used: 26. Benjamin Mccarron, 39. Dominion Nasrabadi, 32. Dario Travia, 40. Matthew Williamson
Yellow Cards: 42. Adrian Vlastelica 115’
Red Cards: N/A