It was hardly a crowd to stir up nostalgia of better days for two of Australia?s most decorated football clubs, though the die-hard fans present were stunned when the visitors took a rather comical lead after just five minutes of play.
Having started slightly sharper, the Tigers took the lead courtesy of a long-throw into the penalty-area after just two minutes.
Flicked on initially by former Central Coast Mariners player Jamie McMaster, the ball deflected off the head of Michael Cindric, wrong-footing goalkeeper Sam Emmanouil and sneaking inside the far post.
Former A-League striker Tolgay Ozbey had Sydney Olympic?s first attempt at goal in the 13? minute, entering the penalty-area before shooting wide of Phillip Zabaks? near post.
Despite looking rather disjointed in the opening stages, Aytek Genc?s side equalised courtesy of a unique finish at the far-post; Xavier Forsberg appearing to force home a dangerous Peter Zorbas free-kick with the back of his leg on 16? minutes.
The rather relaxed defending continued from both sides during an open first-half of football as Sam Emmanouil was forced into a sharp 22? minute saved at his right post.
Despite the Tigers? more fluent one-touch play, it was the more mechanical of the Sydney sides who were fashioning half-chances for themselves.
Sam Emmanouil?s long ball up field was almost diverted into the net of Phil Zabaks by his own defender, the former Sutherland shot-stopper acrobatically tipping the ball wide.
It was only moments later though that Sydney Olympic manager Aytek Genc was sent from the touchline for protesting against a Tolgay Ozbey yellow card, ushered into the nearby stands by the match commissioners.
On the pitch, the former A-League striker was the Blues? main threat with his willingness to run at defenders, though he was rather isolated in an attacking capacity in a first-half devoid of clear goal-scoring chances.
Appropriate then that Anthony Doumanis? rather innocuous floated ball into the penalty-area set Olympic up for a 35th minute lead, Matthew Mayora inexplicably unmarked to head past a poorly positioned Zabaks and into a virtually empty net.
With the home side finishing the first-half the stronger ? galvanized by a vocal crowd ? Tolgay Ozbey drove a free-kick wide of the left post as the Tigers failed to build on their strong start to the half.
While the first-half was characterised by some aesthetically pleasing football in the middle part of the pitch that went without end product, the second saw the home side, in particular, presented with some wonderful opportunities to win the match.
A frantic start saw the superb Ozbey burst into the penalty-box with a characteristic angled run, halted on the edge of the area only to see Anthony Doumanis run onto the ball but pull his shot well wide of the Tigers? goal.
The Tigers themselves had a wonderful chance to equalise on 62? minutes; Sam Emmanouil came off his line but fumbled a cross on the edge of the area. The ball eventually fell to Stephen Kayes but his volley towards goal was weak and cleared off the line by Michael Cindric.
It was virtually the last chance Paul Okon?s side were gifted though, as Sydney Olympic went on to dominate the remainder of the half with Ozbey and Doumanis particularly prominent.
Within the space of 2? minutes though the gangly figure of Jordan Simpson ? imperious in central midfield for the hosts ? had two wonderful chances to extend his side?s lead.
The unlikeliest of goalscoring candidates, Simpson?s first effort hit the upright on 71? minutes, forcing his way into the penalty-area before sliding the ball under Zabaks from an angle.
His next chance came courtesy of some brilliant work by Mayora – another of Olympic?s hardest workers on the night ? who hit the by-line before pulling the ball back for the former Queensland Roar and Perth Glory man, who seemed set to score but curled his effort over the crossbar under no pressure.
Doumanis was next to waste a wonderful chance for a third, somehow contriving to miss when in a two-on-one situation with the goalkeeper. After Ozbey initially managed to break the line, the ball fell to Doumanis in the area with just Zabaks to beat and his teammate free on his left.
Appearing to be caught in two minds, the midfielder was shepherded away from the goalkeeper before seeing his weak effort on the turn saved comfortably with 13 minutes remaining.
With the Tigers already sitting deep and failing to muster any counter-attacking threat against a hard-working, if unspectacular Blues outfit, Michael Hawrysiuk was shown a second yellow card for a late challenge on Ozbey, as Doumanis missed a cleverly constructed late chance from a free-kick as the home-side held on relatively comfortably for their first win of the season.
Sydney Olympic 2 (Xavier Forsberg16?, Matthew Mayora 35?)
Sydney Tigers 1 (O.G. Michael Cindric 2?)
Sunday, 8th March, 2009
Belmore Sports Ground, Belmore
Sydney Olympic: 20.Sam EMMANOUIL; 32.Xavier FORSBERG, 4.Mirko JURILJ, 5.Michael CINDRIC, 7.Peter MCPHERSON, 10.Anthony DOUMANIS, 11.Tolgay OZBEY, 15.Matthew MAYORA (17.Ian RAMSAY 90?+1?), 16.Jordan SIMPSON (9.Anthony HARTSHORN 83?), 18.Adam BIDDLE (19.Ken CHUN 86?), 22.Peter ZORBAS
Yellow Cards: Tolgay Ozbey, Matthew Mayora 40?
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney Tigers: 99.Phillip ZABAKS; 2.Mark BYRNES, 3.John KELSO, 4.Daniel CLIFFORD, 5.Michael GALLUZZO, 7.Stephen KAYES (23. Daine MERRIN 83?), 8.Marino MUSUMECI, 12.Michael WEST, 13.Stefan DONEVSKI (10.Franco PARISI 79?), 16.Michael HAWRYSIUK, 19.Jamie MCMASTER
Yellow Cards: Mark Byrnes 10?, Michael West 17?, Michael Galluzzo 83?, Michael Hawrysiuk 53?, 85?
Red Cards: Michael Hawrysiuk 85?
3 ? Tolgay Ozbey (SO)
2 ? Matthew Mayora (SO)
1 ? Anthony Doumanis (SO)
-By Chris Paraskevas