Spirit v Olympic

Round 3 report by Benjamin Coonan
Northern Spirit v Sydney Olympic

An avalanche of goals in the second half from Northern Spirit was enough to see them dispose of their cross-town rivals Sydney Olympic at Pittwater Park tonight.

The 4-0 thrashing equaled the Spirit's record for their biggest ever win and was their first against Olympic at home in their six year history.

Young Socceroo Jonathon Richter showed poise to head home from a Stewart Petrie corner on 47 minutes and open the floodgates.

Midfielder Ian Ferguson added a second ten minutes later after a contentious ruling by referee Matthew Breeze, before Dylan Macallister and Petrie rounded out the scoring for the home side.

It was the Spirit's first win at their new headquarters and also their first points of the new season.

The first half was full of excitement, but devoid of goals.

Petrie had a shot cleared off the line by Olympic defender Paul Kohler inside fifteen minutes after great desperation was shown by MacAllister.

Former Spirit striker Pablo Cardozo came closest for the visitors after getting inside the Spirit defence on 36 minutes courtesy of a clever ball from Denis Alilovic. However, Spirit 'keeper Paul Henderson was up to the challenge and parried Cardozo's low shot away for a corner.

Before the first 45 was up, the home side continued to pressure Olympic's goal, but to no avail.

After the break though, a rejuvenated and lively Spirit completely dominated proceedings to ultimately knock in four goals.

Olympic goal keeper Peco Trajcevski had a half to forget. Making only his second NSL appearance, the promising former NSW Winter Super League custodian made three costly errors that led to Spirit goals. The most obvious was that of Spirit's second goal.

Olympic defender Ivan Karlovic, having just recovered from a nasty clash with Trajcevski, found himself isolated on the left and turning inwards he attempted a clearance out of Olympic's half only to mis-guide his kick straight ahead towards Trajcevski's goal.

Trajcevski made the error of catching the ball, rather than punching or heading, and left referee Breeze with little option but to award an indirect free-kick to the home side for a pass back.

From the subsequent kick, experienced midfielder Ferguson made no mistake, guiding it over the crowd on the goal-line, and doubled the Spirit's lead.

At 2-0, the home side assumed total control of the match and Paul Henderson' s goal was seldom under threat.

Macallister's goal in the 68th minute from a pinpoint cross from Richter was just reward for another fine performance for the former youth international.

After a disappointing debut season with the Spirit, tonight's performance may just have been a coming of age for MacAllister, who was one of the starlets of Australia's 1999 Under 17 World Championship 'unners up' squad. 'He's probably been our most consistent in our first three games,' said Spirit coach Lawrie McKinna. 'He's been throwing himself around a lot more. He's six foot two and ninety kilos, and if I was that big I'd be throwing myself around too.'

The fourth goal, by former Dunfermline winger Petrie, was experience over the new. Latching onto a ball in the middle he raced forward, shrugging off a lacklustre challenge from a defender, and lifted the ball over the advancing Trajcevski.

Olympic coach Peter Papanikitas was philosophical about his teams' performance. 'The turning point was the second goal for me. I don't think it was a free-kick, it was a mis-kick,' said Papanikitas. 'There's a few thing we need to address, and quickly.'