Sydney Olympic’s Premiership chances suffered a major blow after they were stunned 1-0 by a determined Blacktown City side at Lily Homes Stadium on Sunday.
A 50th minute goal from Joey Gibbs was the difference between the two sides as Blacktown returned to the winners circle for the first time since May.
It was a game of many chances with the goalkeepers of Olympic and City the stand out performers as they kept their respective sides in the contest.
Olympic fought hard but were unable to find an equaliser with the loss cutting their lead at the top of the competition to only one point from second placed APIA Leichhardt Tigers.
Blacktown City had a fast start to the match with Roberto Speranza’s dangerous ball into the box after five minutes cleared from danger by defender Tom Whiteside.
Olympic responded when Radovan Pavicevic burst through only to be stopped by keeper Tristan Prendergast two minutes later in a surprisingly open first 10-minutes.
Blacktown striker Gibbs forced a brilliant save from Paul Henderson soon after as both shot stoppers handled their early work with aplomb.
Prendergast made another quality save when he denied Jason Madonis who got behind the blacktown defence with a combination of strength and pace.
It was end to end football and Blacktown was next to try their luck on goal as Gibbs spurned two chances in quick succession, firstly after a slick assist from Daniel Araujo and then a Roberto Speranza cross.
It was another let off for the Blues who were content to sit in, break sharply and put the ball in over the top to utilise their mobile pacey strikers.
However, Olympic were finding themselves under increasing pressure in and around their own area and found it difficult to mount any attacks.
Henderson pulled off a sensational save at full stretch to deny Mason Versi in the 41st minute.
Sitting on the right edge of the box, Versi powered in and fired a shot across the Olympic custodian who managed to palm it away and, after a goalmouth scramble, clear the ball to safety.
Both sides had their glovemen to thank for the deadlock at the break.
The stalemate was finally broken early into the second period when Gibbs found his shooting boots to plant the ball past a helpless Henderson to give. The relief on the strikers’ face was quite evident as he gave Blacktown a 1-0 lead.
Olympic reacted well, yet left gaps at the back which they were lucky Blacktown were unable to capitalise on.
Matt Lewis should have put the result beyond doubt on the hour mark when pushed the ball wide from close range after a brilliant ghosting run to the front post.
Max Burgess fired narrowly wide of the mark in the 69th minute after taking a slight deflection.
Olympic wasn’t going down without a fight and had enough quality to trouble the Blacktown defence, but when substitute Brendan Hooper headed over from a free-kick it appeared the writing was on the wall.
The visitors almost pulled it out of the bag in the 79th minute when Alejandro Sanchez broke through the middle but fired a cross shot wide.
Versi should’ve iced the game with the goal gaping and Henderson exposed, however he somehow put the effort beyond the woodwork in yet another glaring missed opportunity.
He was subbed moments later for veteran defender Zac Cairncross as City looked to hold their slender lead and see out the match against a fast finishing Olympic.
A frustrated Abbas Saad’s appeals to the referee late on were not received well by the official who cautioned the Sydney Olympic coach as Blacktown clung on in the final minutes to secure the win.
Blacktown City coach Mark Crittenden was a relieved man at the final whistle.
“We were the better team today and deserved the win,” he said.
“I thought we had enough chances to win a couple of games today and probably created more in the opening 20-minutes than in our four previous matches.
That was the best first-half we’ve had in a long, long time and were unlucky to go into the break all square.
“Olympic are leading the competition because they are a good football team and you don’t get where they are without being so.””
A pragmatic Abbas Saad rued what was a tough result for the competition leaders.
“We were outplayed today,” he said.
“Blacktown were quicker than us, sharper than us, created more than us. They are probably the first team this season that has done that to us.
“We hung in there but it wasn’t our day today but credit to City, they deserves their win.”
Blacktown City: 1 (Joey Gibbs 51’)
Sydney Olympic: 0
Sunday, July 1 2018
Lily Homes Stadium, Blacktown
Referee: Ben Abrahams
Assistants: Matt McCorist and Amir Hosnani
Fourth Official: Sebastian Andrews
Blacktown City: 1.Tristan Prendergast, 3.Giorgio Speranza, 4.Roberto Speranza, 5.Grant Lynch, 6.Matt Lewis, 7.Devante Clut (16.Mark Rodic77’), 8.Daniel Araujo, 9.Joey Gibbs, 18.Mason Versi (19.Zac Cairncross 84’), 22.Yianni Spyrakis, 23.Daniel Bragg (10.Connor Evans 57’)
Substitutes not used: 20.Stevan Savicic, 21.Jack Stewart
Yellow Cards: Lynch 40’, R.Speranza 89’
Sydney Olympic: 1.Paul Henderson, 2.Tom Whiteside, 6.Nicola Kuleski (19.Darcy Burgess 71), 7.William Angel, 8.Jason Madonis, 9.Radovan Pavicevic (33.Niko Tsattalios 66), 10.Max Burgess, 11.Jinya An, 12.Zachary Mackenzie, 14.Alejandro Sanchez, 23.Riley Woodcock (18.Brendan Hooper 59’)
Substitutes not used: 20.Ezequiel Consoni, 26.Billy Patramanis
Yellow Cards: Kuleski 53’, A.Saad 86’ (Coach),
-By National Premier Leagues NSW reporter Micky Brock