Canberra Olympic 1 (Mark Shields 21’) Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Labinot Haliti 9’, Tomi Juric 81’, Mark Bridge 92’)

Ultimately it was the Red and Black Bloc that was left celebrating, as expected, at the end of this pre-season friendly in Canberra but the locals from Canberra Olympic certainly gave the Hyundai A-League powerhouse a scare before falling 3-1 to two late goals at the AIS Athletics Track.

Strikes from Tomi Juric in the 81st minute and a stoppage time volley from Mark Bridge sealed a result in favour of the 2012/13 Premiers but Olympic made them work extremely hard for the victory and pushed until the very end on a memorable evening’s football in the national capital with super striker Mark Shields 21st minute goal giving them a tangible reward for putting on this prestigious fixture.

It took Olympic, who gave several players from other local National Premier League: Capital Football sides a chance to strut their stuff against the professionals, a little while to settle and the Wanderers, buoyed by a travelling support that sang from start to finish even when the rain sheeted down in the second half, took full advantage looking brisk from the opening.

The visitors had already threatened early on as attacker Labinot Haliti, a constant threat throughout his time on the park, fizzing a drive at goal that Olympic’s Futsalroo international goalkeeper Angelo Konstantinou did well to push away. The reprieve was short-lived however as within two minutes Haliti had latched onto a ball through the heart of the Olympic defence to finish in clinical fashion.

Olympic wasn’t fazed though and took the game to their highly rated opponents with wingers Ivan Pavlak and Stephen Domenici prevalent, utilising their pace to trouble the Wanderers back line. With Robbie Cattanach and the outstanding Robbie Deeley, who had an immeasurable influence on the game throughout, prompting from deep Olympic equalised midway through the half.

Shields, who leads the Olympic scoring charts in the local competition, showed his alertness to take advantage of a mistake at the back and sprint away from Canberra-born Nikolai Topor-Stanley, round Wanderers shot-stopper Jerrad Tyson and slot into the net from an acute angle for a fabulously taken goal. With their tails up Pavlak and Deeley went close from set pieces and Olympic almost had an inconceivable lead heading into the half-time break.

Cattanach picked out the run of his club colleague Domenici who again exposed Topor-Stanley for pace before clipping a shot over Tyson only for the ball to hit the base of the goalkeeper’s left-hand post and ricochet to safety.

The Wanderers made nine changes at the interval, sending on luminaries such as Bridge, Youssouf Hersi and Ante Covic with Japanese superstar Shinji Ono also joining the fray with twenty-four minutes to play. The injection of their seasoned pros tilted the balance of play in favour of the Wanderers who proceeded to dominate possession and territory with Olympic defenders Joel Valtonen and Matt Grbesa called into duty on several occasions.

It was perhaps inevitable that the weight of possession would tell, but Olympic was only nine minutes from a memorable draw when the Hyundai A-League team broke their resolute resolve. Juric received a pass in space on the edge of the Olympic penalty area, dropped his shoulder to create more room and drilled a low shot beyond the reach of substitute goalkeeper James Bradbury and into the far corner.

Olympic Head Coach Leo Exarhos gave every member of his 23 man squad the chance to sample some game time in the second half with promising youngsters Joshua Gaspari and Nick Bobolas shining in cameo appearances. The result was capped in favour of the visitors in stoppage time as Bridge connected sweetly with a chipped cross to lash a volley into the net from eighteen yards with Bradbury powerless to do anything about it.


Canberra Olympic:

1. Angelo KONSTANTINOU (20. James BRADBURY 79’), 2. Milan POPOVICH (11. Nathan TIDMARSH 65’), 4. Joel VALTONEN (17. Nick BOBOLAS 54’), 7. Robbie DEELEY (99. Tim BOBOLAS 80’), 10. Mark SHIELDS (8. Matt MENSER 61’), 12. Matt GRBESA (16. Matt CACHIA 76’), 13. Stephen DOMENICI (9. Lukas COLE 79’), 14. Hristjan TANOSKI (15. Daniel FULTON 76’), 23. Ivan PAVLAK (3. Jason UGRINIC 54’), 24. Robbie CATTANACH (5. Oliver WIEDEKEHR 71’), 30. Adam SPALETA (25. Josh GASPARI 61’)

Western Sydney Wanderers: 20. Jerrad TYSON, 2. Shannon COLE, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5. Michael BEAUCHAMP, 7. Labinot HALITI, 10. Aaron MOOY, 11. Jake McGING, 12. Tahj MINNIECON, 13. Alexander GERSBACH, 14. Kwabena APPIAH KUBI, 18. Iacopo LA ROCCA

Substitutes used: 1. Ante COVIC, 3. Adam D’APUZZO, 9. Tomi JURIC, 15. Bai ANTONIOU, 16. Darcy MADDEN, 17. Youssouf HERSI, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 21. Shinji ONO, 22. Dean HEFFERNAN, 23. Jason TRIFIRO

Discipline: YELLOW CARDS: 7. Robbie DEELEY (Canberra Olympic)
Match Officials: Richard Naumovski (referee), Owen Goldrick, Greg Taylor




Thursday 15th August 2013

Russ Gibbs
Media & Communications Manager
Capital Football

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