A 40-metre drive by young gun Mitchell Stamatelis has salvaged Sydney Olympic a 2-2 draw against a determined Bankstown City Lions outfit.
Goals to Tallan Martin and Robbie Mileski had the Lions 2-1 up, but a debut goal to remember for Sydney Olympic kept the fans in their seats to the final whistle.
The game began at a frantic pace with Bankstown showing their tactics early, trying to outmuscle the men from Belmore.
The first chance fell to the Blues in 3’ minute as James Monie headed on to captain Anthony Doumanis to volley unfortunately right to the chest of the waiting Zlatko Joseski.
Sydney Olympic’s pressure on the Lions defence continued 3’ minutes later as Andre Gumprecht was put through on goal by Peter McPherson. Again Joseski was out well to thwart the chance.
Bankstown slowly settled into their well-known gritty game, together with great short and long passes, opening the Olympic defence.
In the 11’ minute Bankstown had their first chance but could not maximise on their majority possession as Hussein Salameh shot well over the crossbar.
Challenges were coming thick and fast in what was a tough encounter with former Bankstown City midfielder Phillip Makrys substituted in the 16th minute after a rough challenge that ended the Olympic player’s match with Frenchman Cedric Ramirez coming on.
Salameh’s hard work almost gave him the opening goal just minutes later. Following a quick free-kick by Peter Tsekenis, Brett Studman put Salameh in shooting range, but his well struck half volley just went wide of Zaim Zanelli’s right-hand post to the relief of the Sydney Olympic supporters.
Bankstown City Lions then had the majority of possession for the next 20’ minutes, as Richard Luksic forced Blues shot-stopper into a fine acrobatic save with a powerful header destined for the back of the net.
Sydney Olympic attempted to hold the ball more in the back end of the first-half and went close to scoring in the 32’ minute.
Great work down the right hand touchline by Anthony Doumanis allowed James Monie to head the ball just wide of the Lions goal, ensuring both sides would go in at the break goal-less.
The home-side began the second-half on the front foot and could have had the lead in the 48’ minute.
Steve Liavas got around Nik Tsattalios easily and crossed well to Shannon Burgin who sliced the ball well wide of the mark.
10’ minutes later and a free-kick by Chris Triantis almost produced the game’s opener. The well floated cross ended up at the back post, however Josh Lawson could not compose himself as he completely missed the ball and the chance went begging.
Sydney Olympic’s hard work in the midfield finally gave the fans the first goal of the game.
A beautifully timed cross by former Central Coast Mariners midfielder Andre Gumprecht saw Nik Tsattalios get well above his marker to head the ball into the bottom right-hand corner for the 1-0 lead.
The lead did not last long however as Lions player/coach Peter Tsekenis lobbed the ball over Zanelli in the six-yard box with Tallan Martin following the ball and tapping it in on the goal-line.
After continued pressure by Bankstown, the home-side took a deserved lead in the 78’ minute.
A corner led to a great save by Zanelli in goal for the visitors, but it unfortunately fell directly to Robbie Mileski to head into the empty net.
In the 86’ minute though, a great Stamatelis strike from 40-yards out, in his debut match at senior level, gave Sydney Olympic the 2-2 draw.
Following the match, Blues coach Pat Morando said he was happy to walk away with the point:
“Being 2-1 down and fighting back to draw is great. Many teams will not come to Jensen Park and get anything from here but we got the point and I am happy with that.
“We knew what we were going to get when we got here. We knew it would be a physical battle and we had a few players that left Bankstown to come to us and unfortunately Phil (Makrys) was targeted and we had to take him off early. That’s football.’’
Lions coach Peter Tsekenis was more happy about his team’s improved performance this week:
“I was focusing more on improving from last week’s performance which was pretty dreadful.
“We concentrated then on lifting ourselves and I am happy to say the boys did that.
“We stuck to our game plan and I thought we created enough chances to win the game.
“But if you fall asleep against a quality side it is going to cost you and it did happen as they scored a quality goal.’’
In the Grade-20 encounter, a goal to Sydney Olympic with the last kick of the game also salvaged last year’s grand finalists a 2-2 draw against Bankstown City.
courtesy of Football NSW