A 10-man Marconi Stallions has secured a 1-0 win over Sydney Olympic in a tense battle on Sunday evening at Belmore Sports Ground and have kept their finals hopes alive and well.
A 77th minute Mitchell Mallia strike was all it took for the visitors to claim the lead for the Waratah Cup Champions, despite Liam Youlley receiving a red card in the 85th minute.
The result gives Marconi a crucial three points and will see them break away from a deadlocked race for fifth position and finals football.
It also means Olympic will be facing an uphill battle to finish the regular season within the top five.
It was a hard-fought battle from the get-go at Belmore, with both teams fighting to make an early impact on the game.
Despite playing out of position, Riley Woodcock was solid in the centre of Olympic’s defence, making several crucial saves to keep Marconi at bay during the early stages of the game.
Olympic had a chance in the 27th minute as a misdirected clearance landed at the feet of Alex Sanchez in prime position in front of goal, but Nenad Vekic produced a stellar save to keep the game scoreless.
Marconi’s Martin Fernandez created a great opportunity for the visitors in the 57th minute, slipping a ball through Olympic’s defence to the penalty spot, but no one was able to get on the other end of the ball and their chance fizzled out.
Another chance for Marconi came in the 71st minute as substitute Damian Tsekenis set up Peter Pelekanos with a great opportunity just outside the area, but Olympic custodian Paul Henderson managed a terrific save to deny the visitors.
The only goal of the game came in the 77th minute after a misdirected ball from Billy Patramanis saw Marconi with a throw-in in line with the penalty spot.
A bicycle kick from Tsekenis at the edge of the 18-yard box landed with Mallia, who fired his shot out of reach of Henderson and into the netting.
Disaster struck for Marconi in the 85th minute as Liam Youlley was awarded his second yellow card from Katie Patterson, leaving the visitors with just 10 men in the late stages of the game.
Olympic took advantage of their extra player and mounted pressure on Marconi until the final whistle, but they weren’t able to get the equaliser.
Marconi coach Peter Tsekenis said he was happy with his team’s effort to get the win.
“I thought we created enough chances to take the lead early and when you don’t take your chances you leave yourself open, but it was great to get the goal and get the result,” he explained.
“Defensively we were strong when we needed to be… and we got the goal we needed with the subs coming on and doing their business.
“We got over the line on a big game and that says a lot.
“We’re now going to look forward to our midweek Round of 32 in the FFA Cup and worry about one game at a time.
Olympic coach Abbas Saad said the game “could have gone either way.”
“It was just a battle out there. They didn’t play much football, we just had to deal with it.
“We played well, we played with a lot of guts and we took it out to them but unfortunately we just couldn’t find the back of the net.”
Sydney Olympic FC 0
Marconi Stallions FC 1 (Mitchell Mallia 77’)
28th July, 2019
Belmore Sports Ground, Belmore
Referee: K. Patterson
Assistant Referees: N McOrist J Adabjou
Fourth Official: S Quinn
Sydney Olympic FC: 1. Paul Henderson, 3. Riley Woodcock, 6. Nikola Kuleski, 8. Jason Madonis (25. Dimi Petratos 82’), 11. Jinya An, 14. Alejandro Sanchez, 17. Jack Stewart, 19. Darcy Burgess (10. Harris Gaitatzis 75’), 26. Billy Patramanis, 33. Nikolas Tsattalios, 44. Peter Kekeris (9. Radovan Pavicevic 60’)
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Ezequiel Consoni, 21. Alex Gollan,
Yellow Cards: Nikola Kuleski 25’
Red Cards: Nil
Marconi Stallions FC: 1. Nenad Vekic, 2. Nathan Millgate, 3. Giorgio Speranza, 4. Roberto Speranza, 8. Connor Evans, 10. Marko Jesic, 12. James Andrew (11. Mitchell Mallia 54’), 14. Peter Pelekanos, 16. Liam Youlley, 23. Brandon Vella, 28. Martin Fernandez (40. Damian Tsekenis 66’)
Substitutes Not Used: 7. Sean O’Connell, 15. Lachlan Sepping, 17. Kristian Sekutkoski,
Yellow Cards: Liam Youlley 18’, 84’
Red Cards: Liam Youlley 84’
Player Ratings have now been hidden due to the second half of the season commencing.
Written by National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Madeline Riley (@madelineriley23)