Greek clubs Port Melbourne Sharks and Brisbane Olympic bowed out of the FFA Cup on Wednesday evening after narrow losses to top of the table NPL opponents.
The Sharks lost their Round of 32 Cup tie 1-0 at home to NSW NPL league leader Apia Leichhardt, whilst Brisbane Olympic lost 2-3 away to Queensland NPL league leader Queensland Lions.
The Sharks did well to compete with an impressive Apia team who had experienced players in every line across the park.
In a game of few clear-cut chances to either side, Apia first came closest to scoring when one of their numerous first half corners forced a desperate Sharks clearance off the goal line.
Just as the Sharks were preparing to defend one last Apia attack in first half injury time, the visitors struck the telling blow through Japanese forward Tasuku Sekiya, who collected a Sean Symons cross at the far post and had time to step inside and shoot through the legs of Port keeper Matthew Symes at the near post.
Port continued to work hard in the second half, however they struggled to produce clear-cut openings. Despite pushing forward till the final whistle, they fell short against a deserved winner in Apia.
After the game, Sharks coach Adam Piddick commented, “It’s tough. I don’t think our style of play when we had the ball, was effective, but the work rate and effort of the boys was fantastic. I don’t think both teams played that well,but it’s a Cup tie, and one mistake cost us. It was always going to be that type of game, and unfortunately it was us. At the end of the day, it’s difficult to take. We played against a good side. What are they? Probably the best ranked NPL side in the country. And I think we matched it with them. Our two centre backs were sensational. Perry (Lambropoulos) and Michael Eager, both quality. I don’t think (their striker Jordan Murray) had a chance, a sniff. But in saying that, they were effective in stopping us. Whoever scored first was going to get a massive upper hand in the battle.”
In Brisbane, Olympic fans experienced a rollercoaster of emotions in a cup tie which pitted Brisbane’s top two NPL teams against each other. Brisbane Olympic made a disastrous start conceding twice in the opening quarter hour to goals from Lions Matija Simic and Jheison Macuace. Olympic however fought their way back to level the scores in the second half through Zelfy Nozary (62′) and Jez Lofthouse (81′) only for the Lions to break Olympic hearts by scoring an 87th minute matchwinner through Carter Glockner.
The Round of 32 matches continue next Wednesday evening when Victorian NPL league leader Heidelberg United takes to the national stage for the first time this season, hosting Northern NSW NPL side Charlestown City Blues. The Bergers will go into the match as strong favourites against the Blues who are currently in a form slump in the league, having lost seven of their last eight league matches, in a run which has seen the team slide to seventh on the ladder after jumping out of the starting blocks at the start of the season.