Sydney Olympic go down to dominant Marconi
Traditional rivals Sydney Olympic and Marconi Stallions met at Marconi Stadium in a match which saw the Stallions prevail 1-0.
Marconi Stallions had it all to play for with a berth in the finals at stake, while Sydney Olympic simply needed to show pride in the shirt after an indifferent and inconsistent season.
Given their plethora of chances, Marconi should have won by a lot more goals than just the one that decided it in the end.
The first-half action was totally one sided with Marconi dominating play and the visitors happy to absorb pressure and defend gallantly.
As early as the 2’ minute Marconi should have scored when a triple chance went begging.
Mitchell Mallia and Jason Naidovski had their close range shots blocked by Zaim Zaneli before Aleksandar Canak shot wide in the end from very close range.
It was Canak again shortly afterwards who found himself on the end of a ball from Naidovski, but unfortunately he slipped at the crucial moment and then fired wide once he quickly regained his footing.
Midway through the first-half, Sydney Olympic had their best and only chance in the first 45’ minutes of play: Phillip Makrys blasted a free-kick from medium range directly onto the crossbar.
Marconi’s reply was almost immediate when Canak avoided the offside trap but instead of shooting first time himself with only the goalkeeper to beat, he passed to Naidovski who then muffled the golden chance.
If Lee Sterrey’s nerves were holding, then certainly his grey hair count was starting to mount. The question was now psychological: could Marconi really score or was it a mental block in front of goal?
Immediately after the resumption of play in the second-half, Marconi hit the base of the post directly from a corner kick and then in the 50’ minute Mallia struck the crossbar.
It was starting to become very frustrating for the home-side and, as Nahuel Arrarte chipped just over in the 54’ minute, there seemed to be no end to the nightmare of near misses.
However, if ever there was justice then it arrived in the 67’ minute because the goal was simply no more than Marconi deserved. Giorgio Speranza was the architect of the move as he played a beautiful one-two with Mallia before finding Naidovski who simply couldn’t miss the target once the ball landed at his feet.
Late in the game Marconi went close to doubling the score and arguably the best of these chances was in the 87’ minute when Erick Anabalon beautifully cut the ball back for Laurence Braude who then just missed the target with his shot.
Steve O’Connor, meanwhile, who has been in the coaching chair of Sydney Olympic since midway through the season was not too sure what the future holds for himself, even though he was pleased with the game.
“The main thing for us today was to avoid relegation and we’ve done that,” he said.
“It was a difficult game on such a pitch where it looks like they have played a game of rugby on it or something like that.
“We were out there to try and put in a good performance and get the ball forward which we did.
“As for next year, I don’t know what is really going on. I was brought it to help the club avoid relegation and we’ve managed to do that.
“I am certainly interested in staying on, but we need to look at the players we have here and then see what we may be able to bring in to strengthen the team,” he stated.
It is appropriate though to allow Lee Sterrey the final word on his team’s prospects in the finals starting next week.
“Look, to win the title from position four or five is always difficult, but we have a good blend of young kids this year and we have already overachieved no matter what happens,” he proudly said.
“However, I do think we’ll be one of the danger teams because we’ll have everything to gain and nothing to lose.
“Other teams have been hot and cold along the way too, so I think we’ll have a real chance.
“Everyone remembers who wins the Grand Final - that’s just Australian soccer and it is not about the Premierships – so it is still all ahead of us.”
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