As had been promised, it was a weekend of excitement aplenty as Top-Five placings were up for the taking.
With much to play for, both sides needed points for very different reasons. The home side had already sealed their spot in the Top-Five, though required a win to challenge for second-spot on the ladder. The Reds? situation was much more complicated as a loss, or draw, would have given A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt the chance to surpass the Edensor Park side.
Milan Blagojevic was without Michael Herbert in goal and Paul Wither in midfield, as Matthew Mayora and Milorad Simonovic were both left on the bench following the midweek rescheduled match against A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt.
Ivan Petkovic was without suspended trio Todd Brodie, Josip Moric and Damon Collina meanwhile central midfielder Mark Robertson was ruled out at the final moment following a late fitness test.
Sydney Olympic came out of the gates in full force, creating the first chance of the match inside of 30?? seconds.
Anthony Doumanis started the move in midfield with a swift ball out wide to Chris Triantis on his right. Triantis cleverly played a ball behind the Sydney United defence into the path of Anthony Hartshorn at the back post. Hartshorn had his first attempt thwarted by ?man-of-the-match? Vedran Janjetovic, though the ball returned to the Blues? number 9 ? his second effort, a cross-turn-shot, was cleared away to safety by Joe Vrkic.
Sydney Olympic continued to call the shots with Sydney United often forced to retreat in the opening 15? minutes. Roger Galayini was slick in the centre of the park, creating a chance for Emmanuel Zunino to cross from the left-flank moments later ? the Sydney United rear-guard did well to cancel out the opening.
The Reds first chance arrived from the left-flank. Chris Boyle?s speed and confident touch of the ball allowed him to deliver a swerving cross onto the head of Elsid Barkhousir. The Reds striker?s glancing header though, failed to hit the target.
Ivo Bosnar provided Sam Emmanouil in the Sydney Olympic goal with a scare in the 18? minute when his free-kick from 30-metres only just flashed past the custodian?s right-hand post.
Just as the Reds seemed to have overcome the early nerves, Sydney Olympic striker James Kovas was presented with the perfect chance to put his side ahead.
A perfectly whipped cross via the boot of Chris Triantis from the right was brought down by the striker off his chest. Kovas? driven effort, with only Janjetovic ahead of him, was brilliantly parried by the Sydney United goalkeeper; closing the angle extremely quickly to ensure the scores remained level.
The Belmore Stadium crowd was in complete silence as Peter Zorbas fell to ground on 28? minutes in complete agony. The midfielder suffered what appears to be a serious knee-injury, one that we will only come to know the exact extent of in the coming days.
Luka Glavas almost found his way to the opening goal on 32? minutes. Glavas cleverly dribbled his way through the Blues? defence though failed to ?slot-home? past Emmanouil from a slightly decentralised position. The Blues goalkeeper parrying well, down to his left.
Zorbas? replacement Milorad Simonovic did not take long to make his presence felt as he hit a long-range drive that finished wide of the mark. Simonovic?s exceptional technique has certainly become a motion that many youngsters should aspire to.
The half concluded with Roger Galayini trying his luck from distance. The Blues midfielder, who took control of the Blues midfield throughout the afternoon, hit a venomous free-kick from range, forcing Janjetovic into a fine save to his right.
With news filtering through from Penrith?s CUA Stadium that A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers were on their way to a victory against Penrith-Nepean United, the Reds lifted the tempo in the second-half.
Luka Glavas was presented with a big chance on 55? minutes as Chris Boyle tucked-in nicely on the left-flank behind the Blues defence. Boyle?s cut-back pass into the path of Glavas was violently hit over the crossbar, and the chance was wasted.
Anthony Doumanis rallied his team-mates on 58? minutes when the Blues? took a quick free-kick that caught Sydney United unawares.
Doumanis beat two players on the left-flank to open up some room to move, before shooting wide from a very acute position.
Sydney United?s best chance arrived on 61? minutes when Christian De Soares picked up a loose ball at the back post. The Reds attacking midfielder took too long to react before playing the ball back across goal and into the path of Glavas; the Sydney Olympic defence quickly cleared the ball away to safety.
Moments later De Soares was involved again, this time from distance, as he hit a low-driven effort towards goal; all too easy for Sam Emmanouil, though.
Shannon Cole?s involvement was less noticeable than in recent weeks, though the talented footballer delivered a precise cross for an opening for Triantis on 75? minutes. Triantis rose highest, though his looping header finished over the crossbar.
Simonovic again caused concern for the Sydney United faithful as the Blues midfielder picked-up a loose ball on the edge of the penalty-area. Simonovic?s wicked effort only just skimmed the top of Janjetovic?s crossbar.
Janjetovic?s fine form continued moments later as the Sydney United shot-stopper produced one of the saves of the season to keep his side?s finals hopes alive.
A floated cross from the right picked out Anthony Hartshorn who headed downwards from point-blank range. With the ball seemingly destined to find the back of the net, Janjetovic produced a remarkable one-handed reflex save to deny the Blues.
Sydney United?s last chance of the afternoon fell to substitute Dennis Cutura who hit a timid effort into the waiting arms of Sam Emmanouil after a positive burst on the left-flank.
Doumanis almost snatched the win for Sydney Olympic when he failed to bring down a long searching ball from his defence. Doumanis? first touch failed to provide the midfielder with a clear view of goal, instead his rushed effort failed to trouble Janjetovic.
With news A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt?s defeat of Penrith-Nepean (4-3) the Reds were certain of a Top-Five spot if they held out for the draw, and this they did as Ivan Petkovic?s men secured fifth-spot on the League ladder.
Despite not clinching second-spot, Sydney Olympic?s Sunday was particularly special as news that the club sealed the Club Championship stemmed through. With all results in, the Club secured the Championship victory, a great acknowledgement for a fine season to-date.
Milan Blagojevic was particularly happy with the Club Championship, though a little less with the overall performance:
?It is great for the Club to take this award. It shows just how hard everyone has worked throughout the season, and it is a great acknowledgement for all involved.
?In-terms of the match, I thought we were not very sharp today. We struggled to get going and we were too scrappy.
?The match in midweek took a bit out of us and we do have some injuries, though it wasn?t the best Sydney Olympic today.
?Credit to Sydney United, they played a solid match and they have sealed their spot in the Top-Five.?
Sydney United boss Ivan Petkovic was visibly relieved following the final whistle:
?I am very happy to progress into the finals. Sydney Olympic is a great side and we struggled with so many players missing. I am happy to go through, even though we were lucky that other results went our way today.
?I believe that this team is capable to do well now, it is sudden death football and anything can happen. I think that with the one-week break we?ll get a few players back from injury and we can then take it from there,? Petkovic concluded.
Sydney Olympic 0
Sydney United 0
Venue: Belmore Sports Ground
Referee: James Lewis
Assistant Referees: Wayne Lenardon and Daniel Dewhurst
Fourth Official: Kevin Peddie
Crowd: Approx. 400.
Sydney Olympic: 20. Sam Emmanouil; 73. Matthew Jurman, 4. Mirko Jurilj (C), 3. Emmanuel Zunino (16. Nathan Sherlock 46?), 14. Shannon Cole 6. Roger Galayini, 22. Peter Zorbas (7. Milorad Simonovic 33?), 10. Anthony Doumanis, 9. Anthony Hartshorn 12. James Kovas, 18. Chris Triantis (37. Siraj Al-Tall 78?)
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Michael Herbert, 15. Matthew Mayora
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney United: 30. Vedran Janjetovic; 4. Milan Bosnar, 6. Joe Vrkic (C), 21. Saso Trajcevski, 19. Mitchell Thompson, 23. Ivo Bosnar, 18. Andrija Petkovic (31. Anthony Golec 71?), 15. Chris Boyle, 9. Christian De Soares, 11. Luka Glavas, 16. Elsid Barkhousir (37. Dennis Cutura 79?)
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Steve Minovski, 10. Mark Robertson, 40. Ricky Perinich
Yellow Cards: Mitchell Thompson 41?, Christian De Soares 57?,
Red Cards: Nil
3 ? Vedran Janjetovic (SU)
2 ? Milorad Simonovic (SO)
1 ? Roger Galayini (SO)
-By Joseph Carlucci