It was frustrating day for fans at the iconic Belmore Sports Ground as Sydney Olympic FC failed to score against rivals Sydney United 58, losing their season opener 1-0.
Sydney Olympic came of the back of a slightly disappointing pre-season. The team is led by coach Ante Juric, however, who promised this week that the boys will play their hardest for the blue and white badge.
“Definitely want to win but the focus for me is every match putting everything you have into it. When you do that, you get your success and your rewards,” Ante Juric said during the team’s season launch.
Olympic presented a strong, flowing form of attack at the start of the match, with winger Fabio Ferreira putting in and getting under a few creative opportunities.
Well worked from the defence, a long ball to Peter Kekeris saw the young Greek Australian out-muscle one defender and chop inside to beat another. Kekeris sent a curling ball towards the net that narrowly went wide.
Returning the the Sydney Olympic senior squad this season, Luke Kairies was tested by Sydney United’s Devante Clut soon after Kekeris’ opportunity. United seemed to hold a momentum advantage from this stage, with Kairies forced to save another shot five minutes later, this time from United striker Chris Payne.
The striker, who scored an impressive 27 goals from 38 games with APIA Leichhardt the past two seasons, proved to be the biggest annoyance for Olympic, hitting a few deadly strikes in the first half.
Olympic remained on the defensive until the end of the first half, where the score remained 0-0.
It was onwards and upwards in terms of energy for the Sydney Olympic side. A few fruitful opportunities were shown on the left side of the pitch, yet most were easily countered by the Sydney United defence.
Olympic defender Tom Whiteside put an outstanding show of defence to keep Payne at bay in the first half. Taking a great shot from a corner delivery in the 64th minute, Whiteside was forced to sprint back to his defensive line where Payne and Clut were on a breakaway.
Standing in front of goal, Whiteside clashed into the striker with full momentum, forcing both players tumbling down and a penalty to be given to Sydney United. Whiteside also received a yellow card as Payne scored the penalty opportunity, giving United a goal lead.
It wouldn’t be a derby without some on-field clashes. Four yellow cards were handed out in the match, two for each team.
Substitutions by Olympic to bring on Yu Hasegawa and Jason Madonis late in the match didn’t do much for the Belmore boys as the United defence held strong. The greatest opportunities came from the terrific partnership between Brendan Cholakian and Fabio Ferreira who, despite never managing to hit it in the back of the net, put some fear in the United defence.
The match finished 1-0 in favour of Sydney United 58. Sydney Olympic FC will face Rockdale at Rockdale Ilinden Sports Centre next Sunday at 3pm.