Sydney Olympic will face Manly United in the PlayStation®4 NPL NSW Men’s U20 Grand Final next Sunday after defeating Bonnyrigg White Eagles 2-1 in a tense preliminary final at Sydney United Sports Centre.
Sebastian Malfara opened the scoring in style for Olympic courtesy of a brilliant solo effort while Nikita Andricopoulos doubled the advantage midway through the first half after sweeping home a well-worked set piece routine.
A supremely dominant first half from Olympic was swiftly washed away when Bonnyrigg pulled a goal back moments into the second half but despite squandering a host of opportunities to restore their two goal cushion John Theodoropoulos’ side held their nerve to set up a meeting with the Premiers at Leichhardt Oval.
It was Olympic’s seventh consecutive win from a remarkable spell of late season form that has seen the side from Belmore transformed from the competitions biggest underachievers to potential championship winners.
They carried their relentless form into the match’s fledgling moments, where Malfara capped a nervy ten minutes with a sensational opening goal.
The winger scampered past four Bonnyrigg challenges near the centre-circle before whipping an unstoppable strike into the top corner from outside the box.
Unable to match Olympic’s intensity, the White Eagles languished in possession and were punished again twenty minutes later when Andricopoulos fired past Bonnyrigg keeper Stevan Savicic from point blank range.
Having won the foul yards from the byline following another incisive run, Malfara spotted the run of the former Blacktown City man who escaped his marker and found the back of the net with a firmly struck first time finish.
Although Bonnyrigg and Luke Ivanovic were denied a quick-fire response by a combination of the cross bar and defender Steven Katisionis, the White Eagles were fortunate not to have the deficit harmed further with Olympic squandering three golden opportunities to add a third before the half-time whistle.
Their profligacy allowed Bonnyrigg to hit back seconds after the restart when Ivanovic’s cross was bundled over the line by Dalibor Malesevic.
Malesevic’s strike preceded Bonnyrigg’s best spell of the contest, with the White Eagles starlet only denied his second by the linesman’s flag in the next attack while his goal bound effort soon after was cleared off the line by Olympic skipper James Combes.
It would prove a crucial pair of near-misses for a tiring Bonnyrigg outfit who were made to rely on several smart interventions from Savicic with the White Eagles shot stopper denying Oliver Green twice while one on one.
Relief was the prevailing emotion for Sydney Olympic custodian John Theodoropoulos after the match with the Blues manager relishing the chance to take on Manly next weekend two months after drawing the line on his side’s finals hopes.
“We controlled the game well in the first half but to say it was one of the nerviest second halves I’ve experienced is an understatement.
“I think Bonnyrigg really missed both Martin Lo and Asmir Kadric, which hurt them. The last time we finished playing them we were aiming to end the season on a high note and now we’re preparing for the grand final – I’m over the moon.”
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (Malesevic 46’)
Sydney Olympic 2 (Malfara 10’, Andricopoulos 33’)
Sunday 4th September, 2016
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Referee: M. Riedy
Assistant Referees: C. Lee & M. Herro
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 23. Damian Cupac, 24. Luke Debrot, 26. Leon Faria, 27. Andre Guzman, 28. Leandro Guzman (30. Nikola Krljar 45’), 11. Luke Ivanovic, 36. Dalibor Malesevic, 33. Andrija Mandic, 14. Taylor Mcdonald, 20. Stevan Savicic, 22. Harrison Bagot
Substitutes Not Used: 29. Zoran Kolundzic, 35. Kosta Zarafetas, 8. Amar Adilovic, 50. Jordan Geddes
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
Sydney Olympic: 82. Nikita Andricopoulos (48. Peter Liaskos 60’), 38. Stephen Athanaseris, 50. James Combes (71. Conner Antoniou 90’), 85. Ezequiel Consoni, 15. Jake De Marigny, 16. Oliver Green, 40. Steven Katsionis, 39. Manoli Nicolau, 51. Sebastian Malfara (52. Michael Loupis 68’), 37. Eoin Montford, 81. Aedon Kyra (49. Adrian Hadjisocratous 60’)
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Evan Davis
Yellow Cards: 40. Steven Katsionis 26’, 49. Adrian Hadjisocratous 82’, 37. Eoin Montford 84’,