Blustery conditions greeted Rockdale City Suns and Sydney Olympic at Ilinden Sports Centre on a sunny but chilly winter’s afternoon in Rockdale for a match that promised much and didn’t disappoint.
A heavy head clash saw Peter Triantis need attention to a split head that produced plenty of blood in the 5’ minute, as the match was held up for over 5’ minutes as the Blues medical staff treated the young midfielder.
Triantis was subsequently subbed for Kataiba Elrich in the 11’ minute when Rockdale had a corner cleared off the line in desperate defence from a Dylan Macallister header in what had been a lacklustre start to the game.
The battle for midfield was fierce with neither giving way in a hotly contested encounter with periodic half-chances only being produced as each side probed for the weakness that would allow a telling opportunity to be produced.
Rockdale, aside from the Macallister header cleared from the line, produced a move down the right that ended with the ball bobbling around the visiting defence before falling to Tommy Cirjak, on the edge of the box, to unleash an effort that slipped narrowly past Paul Henderson’s right hand post.
The response from the visitors was to send in a corner of their own that Ryan Norval, the Suns goalkeeper, fumbled under pressure from the Olympic forwards; the ball was eventually cleared up field.
The game was held up again when Sam Awad went down in the centre circle in the 31’ minute and required treatment in a physical encounter that was never dirty but certainly not one for the squeamish.
Elrich found himself in the referee Andrew Best’s book when going in hard on Norval in a tackle he was always second best to reach and a scuffle ensued, handbag stuff really, that was to see Brett Studman join Elrich on a yellow.
Ricky Perinich received a red card for a second caution 2’ minutes into stoppage time at the end of the first-half to give Olympic the numerical advantage and they almost took the chance to head into the break in front when a Sam Awad header went across the face of goal with Norval scrambling.
The first-half had seen little in the way of goal action yet contained plenty of highlights without a goal to show for the sparse opportunities created.
Rockdale had claims for a penalty from the kick-off in the second-half when Macallister went down under a tackle in the area that was waved on as the ten-man home side came out of the traps strongly and took it to Olympic before they were able to make their superior numbers count by utilising the wings and stretching the home defence.
Suns captain Peter Apolevski slipped the ball to Macallister who in turn played in Pece Cvetanovski on 54’ minutes, producing a point-blank save by Henderson in the Olympic goal. The shot-stopper was able to recover from and bat away before Takuya Muruyama lost the ball to David Gullo that produced another fine save by Norval at the other end. Norval repeated the feat seconds later to deny Olympic the opener as the match sparked into life.
Henderson was forced to push the ball over the crossbar in the 58’ minute from a Tommy Cirjak free-kick from an acute angle as the scoring opportunities the game had earlier promised began to eventuate in a more open end-to-end period of the game.
Rockdale were awarded a penalty in the 63’ minute when Apolevski was upended in the box by Troy Danaskos. Macallister took the spot-kick and sent the ball straight down the middle to spoil Sydney Olympic’s afternoon by giving the home side the lead.
Sydney Olympic went up the other end and when the ball came across for Sam Awad the striker appeared to handle the ball and was cautioned and subsequently substituted for Matthew Mayora in the 67’ minute.
Macallister added a second for the day when heading home from another corner by slipping his marker as the day got better for the home side and Olympic had that sinking feeling.
Olympic fought back and produced several excellent chances that Norval dealt with or whistled wide before the numbers regained parity when Matthew Mayora received his second caution since coming off the bench and exited the field in the 84’ minute as another twist to the match appeared.
Danaskos fired into the side netting from a smart Olympic move and the writing was on the wall in this local derby, summing up their performance on a day that held much before the kick-off and saw them leave Ilinden Sports Centre with nothing.
Match Report courtesy of Micky Brock (FNSW)