Blacktown City say look at the scoreboard

By Corinthian (Paul Green):
NSW – PS4 NPL 1 – MEN – 2016 – Round 3

3pm, Sunday 27th March 2016  –  Lily’s Football Centre, Seven Hills (aka The Gabbie)

Blacktown City FC 4 (Riku Sasaki 33′, Georgio Speranza 53′, Mitchell Mallia 62′, Travis Major 87′)
Sydney Olympic FC 2 (Nick Tsattalios 65′, Mark Cindric 90’+1)

Many observers at Lily’s Football Centre were left scratching their heads after Blacktown City’s 4-2 win over Sydney Olympic on Sunday afternoon, wondering how a game that was so evenly-contested could bring about such a lop-sided result.

For make no mistake, with Olympic’s second goal coming in stoppage-time this was a clear-cut win for the unbeaten NPL1 competition leaders and defending Premiers.

The goals they scored were all good ones and their front three were a highly  visible physical presence throughout, even after changes were made by coach Mark Crittenden.

But Olympic, still finding their way and their rhythm after a close-season loss of the heart of the squad, were right in the game and never stopped playing, enjoying a good share of possession and creating probably more of the chances.

Defensive errors were their downfall and the inability to counter the power of the Blacktown forwards who have played together for some time now and need little introduction,

On the other hand the Olympic players may have some familiar names in their line-up, but many of them are new to the starting eleven and will take time to gel.

Coach Grant Lee is doing his best to knock them into shape, but with two draws to their name before this match, it was obvious that it was not going to happen overnight.

The home team had three strikers with many goals between them over the years and two with A League experience, Travis  Major and Joey Gibbs.

Olympic, by contrast, had Adrian Vranic looking a little new to all this and Nick Tsattalios, one man with an A League background, doing their best to offer something going forward.

It was difficult for them and for all their midfield creativeness and endeavour, Blacktown’s greater experience and cohesion proved insurmountable.

They’ll do better as the season unfolds, while Blacktown again look strong contenders to defend their title.

They know the formula that’s required and will mostly need to guard against complacency or an occasional lack of focus.

Here, every time Blacktown looked like getting on top, Olympic tried to make inroads, but wayward finishing by the Blues’ players let them down badly.

It took 33 minutes for Blacktown to open the scoring after Olympic had carved out plenty of opportunities which came to nothing.

Harris Gaitatzis was prominent from the outset and the redoubtable Tsattalios was a willing accomplice.

Each time the pair worked something together on approach to the Blacktown goal there as either a goalkeeper, Nenad Vekic, or a defender to thwart them, with efforts in the seventh and 16th minutes both being denied.

Mitchell Stamatellis set up Gaitatzis in the 20th, but this time the through ball led to a shot that was drilled wide of the upright.

Tall striker, Adrian Vranic, who lasted only until the 52nd minute, before making way for Oliver Green, had a good moment in the 28th when he stole possession from Matt Lewis, before unleashing a shot that the home defenders booted off the line.

After that pressure had been absorbed expertly by the well-drilled City defence, their attack decided to get going at last.

Sasa Macura fed Lewis Beurnie on the left and a deft finish at the near post by the very mobile Riku Sasaki earned the home side the lead.

Olympic continued to press and in the 41st it needed quick action from Vekic to stop Will Angel from charging through onto a pass from deep that left him one-on-one with the Blacktown keeper.

As Olympic went close again in the 49th with little changing in terms of their attacking approach, Gaitatzis again looking lively on the left saw Blacktown scramble away his attempt on goal and soon after that Lee looked to his bench.

On came Oliver Green, but a minute later Olympic hearts sank as Blacktown doubled their lead through Giorgio Speranza, who made a huge run, undetected, down the left and steamed in to collect a cross from the right and drill the ball across the bows of the Olympic keeper, Paul Henderson, in emphatic fashion.

Blacktown, now two up, were soon looking to the bench themselves, Crittenden looking for fresh legs and something different, perhaps, as he brought on Patrick Antelmi for opening goalscorer, Sasaki and Danny Choi for Gibbs, inside the hour mark.

It obviously must have been effective as two minutes later they had a 3-0 lead.

Mitchell Mallia was the scorer, after Macura’s powerful cross from the right was only pushed away at the near-post by Henderson, allowing Mallia to bundle the loose ball home from point blank range, clinical as ever.

Olympic’s Tsattalios as effervescent as ever reduced the deficit in the 65th with a strong header that sailed into the top right corner of the Blacktown net.

At 3-1 Olympic must have fancied their chances of pulling this one out of the fire and with it at least a draw to retain their unbeaten status.

But when claims for a penalty after Tsattalios came down in the penalty area were waved away by referee Katie Patterson, late on, Olympic still had plenty to do.

Jacob Boutoubia, on for the unlucky Gaitatzis, had a shot well saved in the 80th and Henderson needed to be at his best at the other end to deny Mallia a second, off a smart Beurnie cross, before Blacktown put the game beyond Olympic’s reach in the 87th.

Patrick Antelmi threaded the ball through nicely for  Travis Major to finish crisply at close range.

When Tsattalios did more excellent work on the left in stoppage-time Olympic got their second of the game through defender,  Anthony Tomelic, but it was too little, too late for the travelling team who were cheered on by their faithful band of followers for most of the game, supported generously and given praise for their efforts, despite the loss.

Match details
Crowd:  Approx 300

Blacktown City FC:  1. Nenad Vekic (gk); 3 Giorgio Speranza, 6 Matt Lewis, 19 Zac Cairncross (C), 17 Lewis Beurnie;  8 Sasa Macura , 10 Connor Evans, 21 Riku Sasaki (16 Patrick Antelmi 56); 9 Joey Gibbs (11 Danny Choi 60), 14 Mitch Mallia (12 Jordan Grozdanovski 82), 7 Travis Major
Subs not used: 20 Tristan Prendergast (rgk), 4 Roberto Speranza

Yellow cards: Mitchell Mallia 7, Riku Sasaki 33, Sasa Macura 44; Red cards: Nil
Coach: Mark Crittenden

Sydney Olympic FC: 1 Paul Henderson (gk); 2 Brayden Sorge, 3 Anthony Tomelic, 4 Leigh Egger, 5 Jason Madonis (19 Mark Cindric 71);  6 Mitchell Stamatellis, 8 Howard Fondyke (c), 7 William Angel, 33 Nick Tsattalios; 10 Harris Gaitatzis (11 Jacob Boutoubia 78), 23 Adrian Vranic (16 Oliver Green 52)
Subs not used: 20 Denver Crickmore (rgk), 37 Eoin Montford

Yellow cards: Mitchell Stamatellis 33, William Angel 56, Brayden Sorge 82; Red cards: Nil
Coach: Grant Lee

Referee: Katie Patterson
Assistants: Mitchell Clark and Janush Adabjou; Fourth Official: Jarryd McFarlane

Ratings, points, etc.

Weather:  Warm and sunny, little breeze
Referee:  8/10
Pitch: Synthetic 10/10
Game: 7/10
Players to note: Travis Major (BC), Sasa Macura (BC), Riku Sasaki (BC), Brayden Sorge (SO), William Angel (SO), Nick Tsattalios (SO)