Sydney Olympic’s hopes of playing semi final football was obliterated by Sutherland Sharks who scored a 4-1 win at Seymour Shaw Park in the second last round of the league.
There was plenty of de-ja-vu around this result. Last season Olympic’s season ended at the same ground when defeated by Sutherland 2-1 in the preliminary final. Earlier this season Sutherland beat Olympic 4-1 and the Under 20’s match tonight also finished 4-1 to the hosts.
Next week’s final match against Marconi Stallions will therefore be important for Marconi only as they jostle for position within the top five, but for Olympic it will represent the end of a season that promised so much at the start of the season.
Olympic went into the do-or-die showdown with the league’s top scorer Matthew Mayora back from suspension but starting on the bench. Tolgay Ozbey was still overseas so the striking responsibilities fell to Anthony Doumanis, Paul Wither and Anthony Hartshorn.
It was Sutherland who began like a house on fire and they were clearly out to quickly deflate Olympic’s ambitions. Chris Price could have opened up for the Sharks in the 4th minute had he connected with the ball at Mark Bosnich’s right post, but joy for the home side came just two minutes later.
A corner from the right was aimed into the box with purpose and Panny Nikas rose unchallenged to header the ball into the net and reward the near total dominance of the match thus far.
Sutherland kept attacking and in the 9th minute they forced Bosnich into a big save to push the ball away from danger and the looming Sharks strikers who were relentless in their quest to kill off the game.
Olympic started to get into the game around the quarter hour mark with increased possession and fluent passing. One such move saw the ball move from deep in Olympic’s left defensive corner way upfield to Sutherland’s rear left corner – all via accurate passes along the synthetic pitch.
Another good passing move involving Wither and Peter McPherson helped set up Chris Triantis who blasted low and hard at goal but Nathan Denham parried away to his right in the 22nd minute. Olympic were seizing control of the game.
In the 30th minute an Anthony Doumanis free kick from a central position outside the box, was slid to Triantis who ran and shot just wide of the top right corner. Sutherland were enjoying less and less possession. When they did get the ball they were countering as quickly as possible.
Mark Bosnich pulled off two big saves within seconds in the 34th minute. The second save to deny Brad Boardman was incredible as goal number two looked a certainty for Sutho.
Olympic were very impressive in the defensive third and the middle, but up front is where everything came unstuck in the battle to get back onto level terms.
With six minutes to go in the half, Sutherland came very close to doubling their lead. Boardman had beaten the offside trap and rounded Bosnich after finding himself one-on-one, but Michael Cindric saved Olympic’s blushes with a last-ditch tackle that ended up as a free kick for the Blues after Boardman pulled Cindric down.
Olympic’s season was virtually over a minute later when the Sharks went 2-0 up. Again it was Panny Nikas who headed past Bosnich, this time off a cross from the left. Olympic’s task was now a mammoth three goals in just over a half of football.
At half time Matthew Mayora was put on to add to Olympic’s firepower up front. Nick Theodorakopoulos was going for broke, but he would have been dissapointed with a soft shot by Hartshorn just seconds into the second half whereas a more firmer shot wouldn’t have allowed Denham to save from close range.
The Sharks had claims for a penalty when Cindric returned the favour to Boardman by bringing him down in the area 51 minutes into the match, but referee Gerard Parsons waved the claims away.
Sutherland went 3-0 up in the 55th minute through Price who broke the offside trap and finding himself facing the large frame of Bosnich. Bozza closed the angle but Price slotted past him with deadly accuracy to make Olympic’s task nearly impossible.
Despite this, Sutherland pushed on for more goals as they sensed Olympic were down and out.
The Blues had good chances to trouble the scoreboard attendants in the 67th via a Wither header that should have hit paydirt from close range and a 71st minute Triantis free kick that was gathered well by Denham.
Denham also saved a well hit Adam Biddle shot in the 73rd from distance, and a minute later Wither’s shot was blocked by Sharks feet as the home side were facing a mini onslaught by a desperate Olympic.
Price came within inches of making it 4-0 in the 74th but his shot came off the underside of the crossbar.
The fourth goal did come two minutes later through Boardman’s point blank shot from close range after a well directed low cross found a static Olympic defence to deal with.
There was a glimour of joy for Olympic as the game petered out along with Olympic’s season.
A minute into stoppage time a chip into the box by Ken Chun found Emmanuel Giannaros who headed past Denham for a consolation goal.
It could have been 4-2 had substitute Jerry Kalouris’ shot bounced off the right post and into the net rather than hit the post and come back out.
Full time marked the elimination of the pre-season favourites from the title race as the current top five sides cemented their participation in the semi final series set to kick off in three weeks time.
Courtesy of Sydney Olympic