Sydney Olympic FC opened their NPL New South Wales defence with a frustrating 1-0 loss at home on Sunday to the Sutherland Sharks.
In front of a healthy crowd around the 1,000-mark, the Blues struggled to settle in the early stages and neither side carved much in the way of chances during the opening period.
Referee Adrian Arndt struggled early to keep control of the contest, dishing out yellow cards to Olympic’s Alejandro Sanchez and Sharks’ Tarik Ercan as the challenges began to fly in and break up any attacking rhythm.
After the break, it was Sutherland that started the livelier, applying pressure to the hosts’ makeshift backline with a number of dangerous set pieces and corner kicks.
The deadlock was finally broken by the visitors in the 67th minute, with Sharks’ Jeremy Cox slotting past a helpless Paul Henderson after a delightful through-ball from Juan Carlos Romero.
Olympic’s best chance to get back in the game came in the 76th minute.
Finally afforded some space outside the penalty area, Sanchez turned inside smartly towards goal and struck his effort against the post, to the dismay of the home supporters.
The match fizzled out in the autumn heat, with the final whistle a most welcome reprieve for the travelling Sutherland players and fans.
After the match, Sydney Olympic Captain Jason Madonis accepted the result was less than ideal.
“It’s obviously not the start we wanted,” he said. “We didn’t play our style of football and Sutherland made us pay.
“We’ve had a good pre-season and a good week of training so there’s no excuses. The goal of defending our title still remains the same and we will all stick together.”
Olympic’s Spanish ace Alejandro Sanchez shared similar sentiments. “It was a tough game because they had a solid performance,” he said of the day’s opponents.
“It’s just the opening game, so ‘heads up and move on’”.
Elsewhere in the NPLNSW, Blacktown City defeated newly-promoted Mount Druitt by a solitary goal, Wollongong Wolves defeated Manly United 2-1, Hakoah fell 2-1 at home to Sydney FC, a 10-man APIA Leichhardt defeated Marconi 1-0 and Sydney United and Rockdale Ilinden played out a scoreless draw.
Looking forward to their next match, Sydney Olympic travel to Mount Druitt on Saturday night eager to return to winning ways. First Grade kick off at 7pm at Popondetta Park.