Olympic v Power

Round 9 report by Paul Goodwin
Sydney Olympic v Parramatta Power

Parramatta Power achieved a very rewarding 2-0 victory at Belmore Sports Ground on Sunday against a depleted Sydney Olympic, on a perfect evening, but in front of a disappointly small crowd.

Operating without a recognised striker to lead their attack, Power played a very crafty game, using the special skills of the roving Joe Miller to launch attacks at random from all quarters that bamboozled the Olympic defence.

While Olympic were down on senior players, the line up differed only slightly from the one which had defeated Melbourne Knights two weeks earlier.

After taking the game to Parramatta for the first half hour and looking likely first scorers, the home team was caught out by a smart move on the right began by Milan Blagojevic and finished off by Scottish import Miller.

Ahmad Elrich got the ball in to the near post where Miller jinked past his man before firing an unstoppable shot into the top left corner to put his side one up after 34 minutes.

Prior to that Peter Bennett and Blagojevic had outmuscled the Olympic midfield to minimise their openings, even though Miller was playing very deep and had only Walter Ardone and Steve Berry, both midfielders, for company, to help him on his forays forward.

The tactic worked well and allowed Power coach David Mitchell to replace Berry at half time with the younger legs of Joel Griffiths, to offer some support to Miller and this made Olympic work much harder in defence after the break.

Olympic brought on newcomer Andy Amegashie at the expense of wide player Lindsay Wilson when the teams trooped out again and he added some life to the game with some good runs.

Mass Sarr and Nick Carle found Alex Tobin and his defensive partners impregnable on the occasion of Tobinís 445th and record equalling appearance in the league.

As Olympic began to commit more and more towards an equaliser Power began to threaten even more themselves on the break and it was on one such sortie that they extended their lead with yet another Miller goal.

Olympic's two chances before going behind both came from Greg Owens.

In the 11th he received a square pass from Mass Sarr who outfoxed the defence with some nice footwork allowing Owens to shoot from 20 yards out, but the ball went just wide of the left post.

In the 23rd Owens ran onto an improvised lob from Halpin, but miscued right in front.

Blagojevic fired just over the bar moments before combining with Elrich to lay on Miller's first goal in the 34th minute.

Olympic still looked like getting something from the game at this stage and after Nick Orlic had headed over a cross from the right by Elrich in the 39th, a Damon Collina header after a free kick from the left, lofted cleverly in by Halpin, was well held down low by Crews.

Halpin also drove another free kick just wide on the stroke of half time.

Four minutes into the second half the crowd was brought to its feet by a delightful move involving Sarr, Carle and Amegashie which provided Owens with another chance, but the volley continued to rise as it neared its target and just cleared the bar.

Griffiths combined well with Miller in the 63rd for Parramatta and the blond striker's shot was well saved by Clint Bolton who palmed the ball away for the defence to scramble to safety.

Miller also nodded over an Ardone free kick while Halpin again saw a free kick at the other end go just wide once more.

Then, in the 80th minute, came the killer second goal.

The lurking Miller stole possession from Glenn Moore and strolled through the heart of the defence before beating Bolton with a very polished finish from 15 yards.

Griffiths and Miller also bore down on the Olympic goal with only the keeper to beat in time added on, but the pass to Miller fell too close to a converging defender and the hat trick opportunity was lost.

Power will now travel to Bathurst for next week's game where they should get good local support when they showcase the sport for the first time in the area at this level.

Olympic on the other hand will be keen to see the return to fitness of players of the calibre of Kresemir Marusic and Scott Baillie who have been badly missed in recent weeks.