Reigning NPL NSW Men’s Champions Sydney United 58 edged out fierce rivals Sydney Olympic 1-0 in the opening round of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s at Belmore Sports Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
A Chris Payne penalty proved decisive as United 58 claimed the bragging rights in their derby clash against Sydney Olympic.
A cagey beginning saw much of the ball remain locked in the middle of the park as both sides settled into the match.
Sydney United 58 defender Adrian Vlastelica set the tone early with a host of robust tackles laying rest to a host of Olympic attacks.
It was the home side who produced the first opportunity of note when Peter Kekeris’ curler from the left-wing flashed just wide of the visitors’ goal on the 18-minute mark.
The away side eventually settled in with Devante Clut first to test Olympic shot-stopper Luke Kairies with his long-distance effort.
Tomi Vidovic’s men continued to keep the hosts’ defence on their toes and came close to breaking the deadlock in the 25th minute when Chris Payne’s half volley forced another smart save from Kairies.
The right channel proved to be a happy hunting ground throughout the remainder of the half for the men from Edensor Park with Jordan Roberts and Matt Sim linking up nicely on multiple occasions.
Sim first skied his effort following Roberts’ cut back on the half-hour mark before calling the Olympic shot-stopper into action with his second attempt four minutes later.
An Ante Juric team talk must have helped Olympic’s cause after they began the second half the better of the two sides.
However, the Belmore boys were left frustrated five minutes in as Oliver Puflett’s strike was denied by United’s steely defence.
After keeping out a barrage of Olympic attacks it was United 58’s time to test Olympic’s resolve.
Following a promising venture into the opposition half, it was the visitors who pounced when their swift counterattack wreaked havoc on an outstretched Olympic defence.
A darting run from Payne into the 18-yard area forced former NSW Blues representative Tom Whiteside with no other decision but to illegally take down the ex-APIA Leichhardt frontman in the box.
Payne dusted himself off and calmly converted the penalty to give his side the advantage in the 66th minute.
A spirited Olympic tried their best to break United but it was the 2020 champions who were able to close out the game and come away with all three points in their season opener.
Vidovic was thrilled with his side as he got off to the perfect start as head coach of Sydney United.
“Very, very pleased with the performance. They’re [Olympic] considered the favourites or one of the favourites for the competition so to win away from home and deservedly win – incredibly pleased about that,” Vidovic said.
Payne’s instant impact since returning to the club did not go amiss with Vidovic praising his striker’s standout performance.
“Really pleased to have him [Payne] back. He gives so much to the team not just through goals but everything else.”
“He’s a Sydney United boy through and through so it’s great to have him back.”
Sydney Olympic 0
Sydney United 58 1 (Payne 66’)
Saturday, 27 February 2021
Belmore Sports Stadium
Referee: Craig Fisher
Assistant Referees: Matty Riedy and Amber Morris
Fourth Official: Brodie Merchant
Sydney Olympic: 2.Tom Whiteside, 5.Michael Glassock(8.Jason Madonis 77’), 6.Nicola Kuleski, 7.Will Angel(4.Ben Van Meurs 45’), 9.Oliver Puflett(18.Yu Hasegawa 69’), 10.Brendan Cholakian, 14.Peter Kekeris(17.Marley Peterson 69’), 20.Luke Kairies, 22.Fabio Ferreira, 23.Daniel Dias, 24.Hagi Gligor(21.Fabian Monge 74’).
Substitutions Not Used: 70.Chris Parsons
Yellow Cards: 2.Tom Whiteside 65’, 22.Fabio Ferreira 90+2’.
Red Cards: N/A.
Sydney United 58: 1.Danijel Nizic(GK), 3.Jordan Roberts, 4.Adrian Vlastelica, 5.Anthony Tomelic(14.Andrea Agamemnonos 60’), 6.Christopher Payne(15.Tariq Maia 89’), 7.Jackson Khoury(19.Liam Ivancic 90+4’), 8.Matthew Sim(18.Glen Trifiro 60’), 10.Devante Clut, 11.Yianni Perkatis, 16.Jacob Poscoliero, 17.Matthew Bilic.
Substitutions Not Used: 61.Lachlan Maher.
Yellow Cards: 5.Anthony Tomelic 32’, 4.Adrian Vlastelica 59’.
Red Cards: N/A.
3 – Chris Payne (SU58)
2 – Jordan Roberts (SU58)
1 – Peter Kekeris (OLY)
-By NPL NSW Men’s Reporter Samuel Greco Schwartz (Twitter handle: @SamuelGS97)