The Marconi Stallions secured a sensational 3-2 victory over Sydney Olympic at Belmore Sportsground on Sunday evening, with a 92nd minute goal the difference in a hard-fought battle.
After an even first half, Marconi were the first to get on the scoreboard in the 53rd minute from an Olympic own goal, and doubled their advantage in the 72nd minute through Charles Lokolingoy.
Two penalties in the 78th and 84th minute saw Roy O’Donovan net two for Olympic to enter the final minutes of the match on even footing, but a goal from Marconi substitute Chris Hatfield in the 92nd minute saw the game end in exhilarating fashion.
As the Premiership and finals race heats up in the final stage of the season, the three points will be instrumental in the Stallions’ run to the finish.
The two sides faced up in the Round 16 Match of the Round in what was set to be a tense and physical battle as is the usual battle between the two historic clubs, and that it was.
Referee Kurt Ams set the tone of the match early as Olympic’s Daniel Dias was shown yellow in just the 12th minute after a late challenge on Marconi’s Connor Evans.
A forward run in the 19th minute gave the hosts their first real chance of the game as Roy O’Donovan crossed to Oliver Puflett in front of goal but Marconi custodian Nenad Vekic came out of his position to deny the attacker a chance at securing the opener.
Olympic came back again in the 23rd minute as Darcy Burgess played Sam McIllhatton, who sent a shot towards the target but it was parried away by Vekic.
The visitors created an opportunity in the 26th minute with a corner kick but Roberto Speranza wasn’t able to finish as he got on the end of a Domenic Costanzo delivery.
O’Donovan capitalised on a mistake from Marconi in the 31st minute, collecting a ball in a dangerous position and attempting to chip Vekic but the ‘keeper stretched to collect the ball and keep the danger away.
As both sides continued the end-to-end football, neither could secure the advantage before the half-time break.
The visitors came out with plenty of vigour and it paid off for them in the 53rd minute, when their attacking pressure resulted in an own goal from van Meurs.
Costanzo maneuvered through Olympic’s defence inside the area and passed to Giorgio Speranza, who sent a ball high into the area.
Van Meurs attempted to head the ball out of play but instead guided it into the back of the net to give the visitors a one-goal advantage.
Marconi doubled their lead in the 72nd minute through Lokolingoy.
Giorgio Speranza sent the ball into the striker inside the 18-yard box and he knocked a header over an outstretched Nicholas Sorras to take the visitors lead to two.
A hand ball from Connor Evans inside the area in the 77th minute saw the home side with their chance to get on the scoresheet with a penalty kick.
Experienced striker O’Donovan stepped up to the spot and powered his shot into the top left corner, sending Vekic the wrong way in the process.
With a goal under their belt, the hosts upped the ante and were given an opportunity to equalise in the 84th minute after referee Kurt Ams pointed to the spot for a second time during the match.
O’Donovan stepped up again and sent the ball to the top right this time to get the game back to an even playing field.
There was plenty of action in the final stages of the match as both teams were desperate to secure the winner and Marconi was able to do so in the 92nd minute.
Substitute Chris Hatfield’s pacey run down the left flank saw him with the ball in prime position and he fired a shot into the top netting to steal the win in the dying stages of the match.
Fans in the stands were in hysterics as Olympic put all their effort into another equaliser but they couldn’t manage to make it happen, leaving Marconi with an all-important three points in a sensational finish to the game.
Marconi coach Peter Tsekenis was pleased his side was able to keep their attacking pressure until the end to secure the win.
“We got up to 2-0 and I thought we were doing really well,” he explained.
“The two penalties were disappointing but credit to Olympic they pushed and pushed and got some penalties and made the game very interesting.
“Credit to our boys they could have dropped their bundle but they kept plugging away and Chris [Hatfield] came on and scored a really good goal which was a great result for us.
“It’s good when those boys [the substitutes] come on and add to what we have and stake a claim for a starting spot.
“These boys coming on and doing the job, it’s very important to our success.”
Olympic captain Michael Glassock was disappointed his team couldn’t get the win but was proud of the camaraderie between the team that kept them in the game.
“We showed tremendous fight and courage to get back into the game,” he said.
“I think really they only had three shots all game and they were pretty clinical with them – one was a deflected goal.
“We’ve got to learn from this because it’s becoming a little bit of a habit, but it shows you that the boys have got this brotherhood and I think that it’s going to hold us in good stead on the back end of the season.
“We know that Marconi is always going to be physical and it’s always going to be a tough opposition, they’ve got some good quality players in their group.
“I think in this game, especially in that second half when we had the momentum going with us, when we play like that we’re going to be very hard to beat in the final six games of the season.
“It was a tough game and that’s what you expect when it’s the second half of the season and top half of the table.”
Sydney Olympic FC 2 (O’Donovan 78’ pen, 84’ pen)
Marconi Stallions FC 3 (Van Meurs own goal 53’, Lokolingoy 72’, Hatfield 92’)
Sunday, 19th June, 2022
Belmore Sportsground, Belmore
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Emma Kocbek and Manwel Limnios
Fourth Official: Mujtaba Ebrahimi
Sydney Olympic FC: 1. Nicholas Sorra, 2. Thomas Whiteside (3. Nikola Udjur 54’), 4. Benjamin van Meurs, 5. Michael Glassock, 6. Mathieu Cordier, 8. Sam McIllhatton, 9. Oliver Puflett, 11. Adam Parkhouse, 19. Darcy Burgess (10. Brendan Cholakian 72’), 23. Daniel Dias, 99. Roy O’Donovan
Substitutes Not Used: 17. Marley Peterson, 20. Fabio Ferreira, 24. Hagi Gligor
Yellow Cards: Dias 12’
Red Cards: Nil
Marconi Stallions: 1. Nenad Vekic, 3. Giorgio Speranza, 4. Roberto Speranza, 6. Domenic Costanzo (7. Christopher Hatfield 75’), 8. Connor Evans, 9. Thomas James (17. Martin Fernandez 82’), 10. Marko Jesic, 11. Charles Lokolingoy, 16. Liam Youlley, 22. Taylor McDonald, 23. Brandon Vella
Substitutes Not Used: 13. Samuel Gulisano, 18. Adrian Valenti, 19. Zach Cairncross, 20. Dion Shaw
Yellow Cards: James 33’, Roberto Speranza 89’
Red Cards: Nil