Spanish import Alejandro Lopez scored a debut goal to give Sydney Olympic a hard fought 2-1 victory over Bonnyrigg White Eagles in their National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s opening round clash at Belmore Sportsground on Sunday afternoon.
The Spanish recruit struck ten minutes from full time to gift new head coach Abbas Saad the first triumph of his managerial tenure and ensure the Belmore club continue their strong recent form over the White Eagles.
Having gone ahead early on through a Jason Madonis penalty Olympic were on the receiving end of large periods of Bonnyrigg pressure and eventually cracked when Jewook Woo planted a header past Paul Henderson midway through the second half.
But while Olympic lived dangerously at times Bonnyrigg were unable to capitalise on their dominance and the Blues eventually nicked the winner through Lopez late on.
The former Zaragoza youth product was heavily involved on the day for the Blues and helped the hosts take an early lead after he was felled in the box by Bonnyrigg goalkeeper David Bradasevic, leaving Madonis to coolly stroke the hosts into the lead.
But despite the Blues’ early liveliness Bonnyrigg rallied strongly and started mounting efforts on the Olympic goal with goalkeeper Paul Henderson twice denying Mun-Soo while also making a strong block from Jewook Woo in the first half.
Bonnyrigg continued their momentum in the second half when a Mun-Soo header was parried away off the line while Henderson produced the save of the match to deny a fantastic curling strike from Raymond Miller.
New South Korean import Jewook Woo planted the resulting corner in the back of the net to deservedly restore parity for the visitors and the White Eagles midfielder thought he’d prodded his side in front minutes later after turning the ball home from a goalmouth scramble only for the effort to be called offside.
Brian Brown’s side will lament that occasion and numerous others in hindsight and were dealt a crushing blow when Lopez darted in behind the Bonnyrigg defence and swept the ball underneath Bradasevic to mark a debut victory at home.
Olympic coach Abbas Saad admitted his side dodged several bullets throughout the match but was pleased to mark the new season with a victory.
“I think we’re a little bit underdone fitness wise, Bonnyrigg pretty much ran all over us with their fitness but we hung in there and it was a great effort,” he said.
“I needed to put some confidence back into their hands, obviously in pre-season results weren’t great and there were a lot of despondent players there questioning their own ability.
“Defensively as a team we have to improve and we rode our luck at times but we just need to get to peak fitness and let our football do the talking.”
Brian Brown was disappointed not to have come away with at least a point from the affair but said he was extremely proud of his side’s performance.
“I think if we’re looking for positives to take away from the match the effort from the guys today was fantastic,” he said.
“We haven’t had an ideal first week with players suffering from a few niggling injuries and others from suspension.
“But I think if we play like that for the rest of the year we’ll be happy.”
Football NSW would like to take the time to pass on its deepest condolences to White Eagles skipper Ray Miller after the unfortunate passing of his father. Whiz played the full ninety minutes as his fellow teammates donned black armbands for the match, our thoughts are with Ray and his family at this tough time.
Sydney Olympic 2 (Madonis 8’ pen, Lopez 82’)
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (Jewook Woo 59’)
Sunday 11th March, 2018
Belmore Sportsground, Belmore
Referee: C Fisher
Assistant Referees: N Backo, A Hosnani
Fourth Official: B Wright
Sydney Olympic: 11. Jinya An, 7. William Angel, 19. Darcy Burgess (33. Nikolas Tsattalios 61’), 10. Max Burgess (23. Riley Woodcock 77’), 24. Christopher Gligor, 1. Paul Henderson, 6. Nikola Kuleski, 14. Alejandro Sanchez Lopez, 4. George Timotheou, 2. Thomas Whiteside, 8. Jason Madonis
Substitutes not used: 5. Rafael Jimenez, 9. Radovan Pavicevic, 30. Lachlan Watson
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 2. Aaron Avery (19. Gregory Kondek 70’), 21. David Bradasevic, 16. Samuel Gallaway, 15. Raymond Miller, 8. Jacob Ott, 9. Aaron Peterson, 3. David Vrankovic (20. Benjamin Tosi 66’), 22. Jewook Woo, 6. Nikola Zonjic, 13. James Mckenzie, 18. Gil Mun-Soo
Substitutes not used: 10. Shervin Adeli, 1. James Chronopoulos
Yellow Cards: Bradasevic 8’, Mckenzie 38’
Red Card: N/A
3 – Paul Henderson (SO)
2 – Gil Mun-Soo (BWE)
1 – Alejandro Lopez (SO)
-By National Premier Leagues NSW Mens reporter Jacob Windon