Reigning Premiers and Champions Sydney Olympic were unable to continue their winning ways, kicking off the season with a shock 1-0 loss to Sutherland Sharks at Belmore Sportsground on Sunday evening.
It only took one goal for the home side to fall to the Sharks in what was a very physical match, with new recruit Jeremy Cox netting the winner in the 70th minute.
Olympic managed to start the half with fire, creating a goal-scoring opportunity within the first two minutes of the match.
Spanish striker Alex Sanchez was called offside after wrangling his way into a one-on-one with Sutherland keeper, Anthony Bouzanis.
Jordan Morfitis tried his luck for Sutherland from long range in the 11th minute, but it soared wide of the woodwork.
A free kick in the 13th minute saw Olympic come close to securing the opener, as Sanchez combined with defender Zach Mackenzie, who sent a shot towards goal which was collected by Bouzanis.
Olympic’s veteran custodian Paul Henderson put his skills on display in the 19th minute, managing to extend to get a hand to a shot from Sutherland and keep the game scoreless.
Sanchez made his way into the book in the 20th minute after getting tangled up with Sutherland’s Tarik Ercan, while Sharks skipper Marc Warren received a yellow card in the 26th minute for kicking the ball away as Olympic lined up for a free kick.
Ercan earned his first official warning from a forceful shove in the back of Sanchez in the 40th minute, with both teams coming out firing after the challenge.
The home side came close yet again in the 56th minute with Sanchez flicking a ball over to Olympic skipper Jason Madonis who fired a shot at Bouzanis.
Bouzanis hit the ball back into play for Madonis to shoot yet again but collected the skipper’s second shot to keep the home side at bay.
The first and only goal of the game came in the 70th minute, with another Spaniard Juan Carlos Romero combining with Cox to hit the back of the netting.
Olympic defensive line were calling for the offside flag when Romero slid the ball through to Cox, who sent it out of Henderson’s reach to finish.
Sanchez sent Olympic fans jumping out of their seats as he worked his magic and came millimeters away from the equaliser in the 76th minute.
The Spaniard weaved his way through Sutherland’s back line to let off a shot that flew past Bouzanis, ricocheting off the very edge of the woodwork and back into play.
Sutherland Sharks coach Terry Palapanis expressed his pleasure in his team’s performance.
“It was tough, exactly how we expected,” he explained.
“They’re a very good side Olympic, they’re the reigning Champions.
“We had to make it physical otherwise we wouldn’t be leaving with three points.”
Olympic coach Abbas Saad said he’s “not too disappointed” with the performance of his team.
“It was very, very physical,” he explained.
“Credit to them, they made it very difficult for us to play.
“They played off our mistakes and we got punished in the end.”
Sydney Olympic 0
Sutherland Sharks 1 (Jeremy Cox 70’)
Sunday 10th March, 2019
Referee: A. Arndt
Sydney Olympic: 1. Paul Henderson, 2. Thomas Whiteside, 6. Nicola Kuleski (19. Darcy Burgess), 7. Will Angel, 8. Jason Madonis, 9. Radovan Pavicevic (25. Dimitrios Petratos), 10. Harris Gaitatzis (17. Jack Stewart), 11. Jinya An, 12. Zach Mackenzie, 14. Alex Sanchez, 24. Hagi Gligor
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Eze Consoni, 23. Troy Danaskos
Yellow Cards: Alex Sanchez, 20’, Will Angel 76’, Jason Madonis 84’
Red Cards: Nil
Sutherland Sharks: 1. Anthony Bouzanis, 2. Quentin Cheng, 3. Marc Warren, 4. Patrick O’Shea, 7. Juan Romero, 8. Mateo Poljak, 10. Raul Romero, 11. Jordan Morfitis (32. Alexander Lopez), 12. Blair Brown, 19. Harry Sutherland, 21. Tarik Ercan (9. Jeremy Cox),
Substitutes Not Used: 15. Thomas Papa, 18. Mitchell Evans, 25. Brodie Clarkson
Yellow Cards: Marc Warren 26’, Tarik Ercan 40’, Juan Romero 90’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Anthony Bouzanis (SS)
2 – Hagi Gligor (SO)
1 – Juan Carlos Romero (SS)
-By Madeline Riley (Twitter handle – @madelineriley23)