Sydney Olympic secured a 2-1 victory over Blacktown City at Blacktown City Sports Centre on Sunday afternoon thanks to a late winner by marquee signing Roy O’Donovan.
The National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Match of the Round clash saw Charles Mendy open the scoring after a defensive error by Olympic allowed the lanky striker to nip in and find the net before Darcy Burgess restored parity, muscling his way through the Blacktown defence to sweetly strike the equaliser in the second half.
In a game that had it all, including a saved penalty, it was a stoppage-time strike from O’Donovan who sealed the points for Sydney Olympic.
Adam Berry fired in a free kick, earnt by Mendy, from outside the box to be met by the head of Mitch Mallia that slipped narrowly wide of the woodwork in the 2nd minute for an injury-ravaged Blacktown side.
O’Donovan then worked some space at the other end to fire into the side netting in a very lively start to the game.
Another deep cross from the right, this time via Dakota Askew, had Jak O’Brien haring in at the back stick, but he headed into the ground for an easy take for Sydney Olympic ‘keeper Nick Sorras.
Mendy switched flanks and set off on a sprightly run down the left and centred for Mallia who shot into the side netting from an acute angle, Blacktown enjoying the better of the early chances.
Olympic were under pressure but remained strong at the back as epitomised by the gutsy Mathieu Cordier who, in a challenge with Askew, received a head knock that required treatment before both players returned swathed in bandages.
As expected between two high-flying sides, the tension was palpable and the tackling fierce, one such leading to Mendy receiving the first caution of the match.
From a deep corner, Adam Parkhouse pumped the ball back into the middle but the Oliver Puflett strike soared over the bar in the 28th minute as the visitors clawed their way back into the match.
It changed all too quickly for the visitors when Mendy capitalised on an error moments later to nip in and find the back of the net for Blacktown to open the scoring on the half-hour mark, after Sorras was left stranded.
On the balance of play it was deserved if somewhat fortuitous in its arrival.
Olympic were incensed when they, and in particular O’Donovan, felt they should have had a penalty that was waived away adding to their growing frustrations.
Neither side could find the net again before the break, although O’Donovan joined Mendy, harshly according to the burly striker, in the book in first-half stoppage time.
Olympic came out firing for the second period but Parkhouse soon found himself in the book for simulation in the Blacktown box, not a decision that went down well with the travelling support.
Lachlan Campbell was also cautioned for a tackle on Nikola Ujdur. The tension was building within both camps with so much at stake this early in the season.
Mallia tried an audacious overhead kick that went wide of the mark in the 55th minute from skipper Matthew Lewis’ centre – it was entertaining and would have been a contender had it bulged the onion bag.
Olympic restored parity through the effervescent Darcy Burgess in the 59th minute when Blacktown failed to deal with a Cordier long throw.
The match was becoming somewhat passionate and threatened to boil over on a couple of occasions, such was the nature of this fiercely contested football match.
After a flurry of niggling cautions, Michael Glassock was added to the list when bringing down Campbell in the area for a penalty in the 69th minute.
Lynch stepped up for the spot-kick but Sorras, having a tremendous campaign, was smarty down to his left to push the ball around the post to keep the scores locked at one apiece.
O’Donovan found the net in the 80th minute, but the goal was eventually disallowed to further inflame the mood of the crowd.
Hiroaki Aoyama was hoping to cap a quiet match with a winning strike but his 25-yarder sailed over the goal by some distance, the diminutive midfielder leaning back on the shot and failing to get over the ball.
It was a feisty, testy game played between two very evenly matched sides, but it was O’Donovan who had the last laugh when racing into the area to side-foot a volley home in stoppage time to give the visitors the points.
It was a tough pill for Blacktown City fans to swallow and left coach, Mark Crittenden, to state after the match.
“I think we 100% deserved to get something out of the game,” he commented.
“But you can’t let a ball come across with a couple of minutes to go like we did and expect anything less from a side like Olympic.
“We had a penalty saved and I’m happy with the effort the lads put in if not the outcome as it was poor from us at the last.
“It’s always a cracking game between these two sides and I felt we did enough to win the match today and if it ends 1-1 everyone walks out happy but like I said, I felt we did enough but credit to them.”
Sydney Olympic coach, Ante Juric, obviously happy with the late, late win.
“I felt we were the better team taking nothing away from Blacktown as they are a top side and we had to be at our best today.
“There were patches where we didn’t put it together, particularly in the first half but after the break, we were a better side.
“To come back from a goal down, the penalty save and score the winner in stoppage time showed a lot of character in the side and that is something we’ve tried to instill into the team.
“If we get beat or are a goal/player down, we keep going to the end and it paid off today.
“In a match like this between these two sides, that’s a very valuable three points at this stage of the season but we need to start games like we finished today and not put ourselves under pressure but very happy with the win and the character shown by the boys.”
Blacktown City 1 (Charles Mendy 30’)
Sydney Olympic 2 (Darcy Burgess 59’, Roy O’Donovan 90+2)
Blacktown City Sports Centre
Sunday 15th May 2022
Referee: Craig Fisher
Assistants: Brodie Merchant and Amir Hosnani
Fourth Official: Eric Saba
Blacktown City: 30. Alex Robinson, 4. Lachlan Campbell, 5. Grant Lynch, 6. Matthew Lewis, 8. Jak O’Brien, 11. Mitch Mallia (12. Tyren Burnie 75’), 17. Dakota Askew, 18. Nicholas O’Brien, 19. Adam Berry, 21. Charles Mendy (9. Jake Trew 78’), 32. Hiroaki Aoyama
Subs not used: 9. Jake Trew, 14. Caleb Jackson-Brown, 16. Ben Berry, 23. Charles Eriku, 40. Dylan Niski
Yellow Cards: Charles Mendy 24’, Lachlan Campbell 53’
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney Olympic: 1. Nick Sorras, 2. Tom Whiteside, 3. Nikola Udjur, 5. Michael Glassock, 6. Mathieu Cordier, 8. Sam McIlhatton (10. Brendan Cholakian 60’), 9. Oliver Pufflet, 11. Adam Parkhouse (17. Marley Peterson 70’), 19. Darcy Burgess, 23. Daniel Dias, 99. Roy O’Donovan
Subs not used: 22. Fabio Ferreira, 24. Hagi Gligor, 30. Jeremy Pollard, 36. Peter Politis
Yellow Cards: Roy O’Donovan 45+1’, Adam Parkhouse 49’, Oliver Puflett 64’, Tom Whiteside 68’, Michael Glassock 69’
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Nick Sorras (SO)
2 – Darcy Burgess (SO)
1 – Dakota Askew (BC)