Sydney Olympic secured their first win of the 2021 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s season with a 1-0 victory against local rivals APIA Leichhardt on Saturday afternoon at Belmore Sportsground.
With pressure building for both teams after difficult starts to the season, it was a clean header from Olympic skipper and former NSW Blues defender Thomas Whiteside that separated the two teams at the final whistle.
There were a couple of major outs due to injury prior to the match kicking off as the home side were minus Hagi Gligor and Adam Parkhouse while APIA had new signing Hassan Jalloh on crutches while Themba Muata-Marlow was also in the stands in the casualty ward.
Olympic also gave goalkeeper Chris Parsons his debut, with Nick Sorras injured and Luke Kairies used in the opening two matches, the 27-year-old got the nod from coach Ante Juric to do his thing.
The home side looked dangerous from the get-go, creating chances through their impressive attacking combination of Oliver Puflett, Jason Madonis and Brendan Cholakian, however their efforts were without reward in the opening stanza of the match.
There was a great old school duel taking place between Puflett showcasing his peroxide hair along with the return from injury Paul Galimi of APIA, the two were going at it all match as this match meant that much to the players.
The first, and only, goal of the match came for the hosts just moments after the half-time break through a set piece in the 46thminute.
Cholakian fired a free kick into the area and met the head of Whiteside, who guided the ball into the netting to earn his team a one-goal lead as well as record the club’s first goal in 2021.
Marley Peterson looked poised to extend the lead for Olympic in the 54th minute, creating a one-on-one opportunity with APIA custodian Ivan Necevski, but his attempt went firing into the keeper.
Madonis came looking for another in the 56th minute, but it was again rejected by Necevski who was in fine form.
The veteran keeper then made another crucial save in the 73rd minute, deflecting another shot from Peterson to keep the hosts with a one goal lead.
While APIA continued to mount pressure in the final stages of the match, Olympic had switched into a strong defensive set-up to keep the visitors at bay and finish the match with three points.
Olympic coach, Ante Juric, expressed his pleasure in his team securing their first goal and win of the 2021 season.
“The boys worked super hard from defence to attack and we finally got on the scoresheet and got three points which is nice,” Juric explained.
“The fans deserve a winning team and a good performance like we just put out for them.”
“We just keep working hard, that’s what we do as a team.”
“We’re a tight-knit team and we are just going to go out for another three points next week and start to climb the ladder.”
APIA coach John Calleja was proud of the effort from his team despite the result.
“I thought we played well, I thought Olympic played a good game too,” he said.
“I was a bit disappointed that we conceded off a set-piece so early in the second half but I’m really proud of the boys, they worked really hard, they were very, very desperate to get a result but unfortunately we couldn’t.”
Sydney Olympic FC 1 (Thomas Whiteside 46’)
APIA Leichhardt FC 0
Saturday 13th March, 2021
Assistant Referees: J. Adabjou and M.Allum
Fourth Official: I. Covic
Sydney Olympic FC: 2. Thomas Whiteside, 4. Benjamin van Meurs, 5. Michael Glassock, 6. Nicola Kuleski, 8. Jason Madonis, 9. Oliver Puflett (18. Yu Hasegawa), 10. Brendan Cholakian (22. Fabio Ferreira), 17. Marley Peterson (14. Peter Kekeris), 21. Fabian Monge, 23. Daniel Dias, 70. Christopher Parsons
Substitutes Not Used: 7. William Angel, 19. Darcy Burgess, 20. Luke Kairies
Yellow Cards: Daniel Dias 38’, Jason Madonis 88’, Michael Glassock 94’
Red Cards: Nil
APIA Leichhardt: 1. Ivan Necevski, 2. William Mutch, 3. Paul Galimi, 4. Joshua Symons, 6. Harry Callahan (11. Mathieu Cordier), 8. Corey Biczo (26. Sean Symons), 9. Blake Powell, 10. Franco Parisi, 18. Adrian Ucchino (7. Tynan Diaz), 20. Sam Mcilhatton, 21. Michael Kouta
Substitutes Not Used: 22. Luke Turnbull, 23. Gian Fiorese, 24. Christian Cirino
Yellow Cards: Parisi 58’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Thomas Whiteside (SOFC)
2 – Jason Madonis (SOFC)
1 – Ivan Necevski (APIA)
-By Football NSW Reporter Madeline Riley (@madelineriley23)