It was a Shannon Cole cross from a corner that managed to find its way through a packed penalty area to arrive at an awkward height for Michael Cindric whose air swing in-front of an empty net caused a ripple of laughter in the stands.
He made up for this horrendous effort just three minutes later when again Cole was involved in playing a through ball to Marino Musumeci who in turn crossed and found the head of Cindric at the far post to produce a clinical finish.
Moments later and Cole again floated in a corner to the near post which Ashley Ryan managed to clear at the second attempt but it was a portent of what was to come.
With the pitch cut long it was Olympic who mastered the conditions best and at times displayed an almost telepathic quality about their play. Indeed, Roger Galayini could have doubled the lead with two efforts from distance that were wide and well stopped by Brad Swancott in the United net respectively.
But for Swancott the ?sorry tale? of the Manly first-half could well have been far worse but for all his fine work – he couldn?t stop a peach of a free-kick by that man Cole who struck a right footed effort over the wall and beyond the despairing dive of the ?keeper.
Cole had an almost identical free-kick opportunity in the 33? minute but his initial effort was blocked by the wall and then once more from the follow up.
And it was Swancott again to the rescue when Musumeci bore down on him in a one-on-one with the custodian staying big enough to force the nippy Olympic player wide and the loss of the opportunity.
Two-nil was the half-time score line and Olympic could well have been cursing the many spurned chances their enterprising play had created with Manly reduced to just a couple of half-chances in the first 45-minutes, however a different United returned after the break.
As Olympic had begun the opening stanza with some style, so too did Manly at the start of the second. Finally they appeared to have come to terms with the long grass and started to look dangerous and create chances through determination and slick movement.
Inside the opening minute they had an effort tipped over the bar but the tide soon changed in a see-saw half where no side asked nor was given a quarter.
Ryan was lucky not to receive a caution for United after a lunging tackle and then blasting the referee, Peter Vrtkovski, who handled himself impeccably throughout.
Another free-kick by Cole was tipped over at full stretch by Swancott and many could be forgiven for thinking it was a two-man show but the contribution all over the park by Olympic was the telling factor in the summing up afterwards.
That said it was a shining display by Cole that caught the eye with his tenacious runs from left-back, dribbles, biting tackles, shots, crosses and chips over the top, with either foot, that earned him the Man of the Match points.
Manly coach Phil Moss said afterwards: ?It was a good workout for us but playing wise, it was a bad display. We didn?t really perform in the first-half and I would love to say it was because of forced changes but it wasn?t, it was down to me. I wanted to see how some of the younger players would perform and it turned out to be a good lesson for them, but not the result obviously.
?Take nothing away from Olympic, the way they are playing is setting the benchmark even this early in the season and it?s now for the rest of us to step up. They played extremely well tonight,? he concluded.
Milan Blagojevic was delighted with the result but philosophical in his appraisal when stating: ?Our first-half was very pleasing and in the second we took our foot off the pedal a little.
?It was also pleasing to see the how the guys handled that, particularly at the back. I had to make a couple of changes through injury and so it was great to see the way the combinations coped.?
And the jubilant coach was also quick to praise his backroom boys too: ?I have to say that our fitness levels were fantastic and that is due to our fitness coach Craig Duncan.
?He has been doing a terrific job and we?re looking forward to the start of the league season, strangely enough.
?We finished second bottom last term and made wholesale changes to the side for this campaign so it is good to see the way the players have come together in so short a space of time and the partnerships forming. It should be an exciting year for us,? he ended.
Honours shared in the second-half but Olympic won the first handsomely and that was the telling difference in this intriguing encounter. Well played.
– By Micky Brock
Sydney Olympic 2 (Michael Cindric 7?, Shannon Cole 27?)
Manly United 0
2nd February 2008 – Hajduk Stadium
Referee: Peter Vrtkovski
Sydney Olympic: 1 Michael Herbert, 12 Emmanuel Giannaros, 4 Michael Cindric, 16 Mirko Jurilj cpt, 14 Shannon Cole, 18 Chris Triantis, 6, Roger Galayini, 19 Marino Musumeci, 15 Matthew Mayora, 17 Iain Ramsay, 8 Paul Wither.
Substitutions: 12 Peter Zorbas, 2 P Crevani, 9 Phillip Pyliotis, 13 Siraj Al Tall, 7 Milorad Simonovic
Manly United: 1 Brad Swancott, 3 Andrew Mailer, 4 Roberto Hamad, 7 Ashley Ryan, 8 Michael Williams, 9 Robbie Cattanach, 11 Craig Midgley, 14 Keith Shelvin, 17 Shaun Bowden, 18 Beau Busch, 19 Richard Williams cpt.
Substitutions: 21 Luke Femia, 2 Adam Israel, 5 Pascal Julliard, 10 Dusan Mihaljovic, 12 Michael Lloyd-Green
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
3 ? Shannon Cole (SO)
2 ? Marino Musumeci (SO)
1 ? Brad Swancott (MU)