Sydney Olympic have kept their finals hopes are after a stunning 2-1 victory over Sydney United 58 at Belmore Sportsground on Sunday evening.
A goal to Tariq Maia in the 26th minute had Sydney United 58 with the advantage after the first stanza, but a 10-minute block early into the second half saw the pace of the game change drastically.
A goal to Olympic substitute Jack Stewart and a well-taken penalty from Olympic skipper Jason Madonis saw the home side work their way back into the game.
Despite a massive amount of pressure from the visitors, Olympic remained resolute in defence to hold on to the lead to take a hard-fought three points from the game.
It was a crucial three points for the reigning Premiers and Champions, but their finals football hopes will now depend on a loss from Sydney United 58 next weekend, as well as a win against Sydney FC.
Both teams threatened in the opening stages of the match, creating an abundance of goal-scoring opportunities, but were neither were able to make their mark on the game.
A robust defensive line for the visitors stifled Olympic’s chances while they built momentum before opening scoring in the 26th minute.
Olympic’s defence came to a halt after assuming the offside flag would be raised on Maia’s run, but as the linesman kept his hand by his side, Maia continued his run without hesitation and sent his strike out of Henderson’s reach.
The home side seemed to regroup at the half-time break, while a substitution sparked some positivity on the field.
Stewart came on in the 52nd minute in place of Billy Patramanis and scored just moments later in his first play of the game.
Henderson planted his goal-kick just outside the 18-yard box and Radovan Pavicevic sent a header through to Stewart.
Stewart then made his run, cutting in before sending a strike past Thomas Manos and into the netting to get Olympic on the scoreboard.
Olympic was awarded a penalty in the 57th minute, after Adrian Vlastelica brought down Pavicevic inside the area.
Madonis stepped up to the spot and sent Manos the wrong way to take the lead for the home side.
Neither team stopped fighting until the final whistle, but Olympic managed to maintain their one-goal advantage to finish the game 2-1.
Olympic coach Abbas Saad was very pleased with his team’s fight to come back from a one-goal deficit.
“I thought we played some good football,” he explained.
“The belief from the boys and the positivity in our play just kept us going.
“We knew if we could get one goal back, we could go on and win.
“It was fully deserved, and we showed a lot of fight.”
Sydney United 58 coach Miro Vlastelica was disappointed a penalty was the deciding factor of the game.
“It’s always tough losing on a call that could have gone either way,” he explained.
“I thought, considering we played two hours mid-week, they were probably struggling to keep up with us, so credit to my boys.
“We’re confident, next week we’ve just got to work hard and prepare for Manly.”
Sydney Olympic FC 2 (Jack Stewart 52’, Jason Madonis 57’ (pen))
Sydney United 58 1 (Tariq Maia 26’)
4th August, 2019
Referee: S. Lucas
Assistant Referees: K. Robinson & J. Park
Fourth Official: J. Crawford
Sydney Olympic FC: 1. Paul Henderson, 3. Riley Woodcock, 6. Nikola Kuleski, 8. Jason Madonis, 9. Radovan Pavicevic, 10. Harris Gaitatzis (2. Thomas Whiteside 61’), 11. Jinya An, 12. Zachary Mackenzie, 14. Alejandro Sanchez, 26. Billy Patramanis (17. Jack Stewart 52’), 33. Nikolas Tsattalios (44. Peter Kekeris 77’)
Substitutes Not Used: 20. Ezequiel Consoni, 25. Dimi Petratos
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney United 58: 4. Adrian Vlastelica, 5. Anthony Tomelic, 8. Matthew Sim (18. Glen Trifiro 63’), 9. Patrick Antlemi, 12. Liam Rose, 14. Tomislav Uskok, 15. Tariq Maia, 19. Joshua Macdonald (13. Michael Ruhs 41’), 20. Cristian Gonzalez (17. Matthew Bilic 58’), 21. Thomas Manos, 22. Yianni Fragogiannis
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Daniel Sadaka, 11. Yianni Perkatis
Yellow Cards: Anthony Tomelic 29’, Adrian Vlastelica 66’
Red Cards: Nil
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Madeline Riley (@madelineriley23)