Olympic v Glory

Round 19 report by Paul Goodwin
Sydney Olympic v Perth Glory

Sydney Olympic substitute Anthony Doumanis brought the home crowd at Belmore Sports Ground to its feet for the third time of the evening when he grabbed a superb equaliser in his sideís 3-3 draw with Perth Glory on Sunday evening.

Doumanis had joined the fray in the 71st minute in only his fifth appearance off the bench this season and is yet to earn a start, but his shock value proved crucial on this occasion.

The game had been played in earnest in a lively and industrious first half which failed to produce a goal, but the second period made up for it in spades.

Five goals came in a fifteen minute avalanche which began five minutes after the restart and with the visitors holding a slender 3-2 lead it needed the intervention of one of the smallest players in the league to record the sixth goal in this real thriller of a match.

Both sides were missing key players, but had sufficient depth to cover for them and it made little difference to the outcome of a match that was crucial to both sides. Neither could afford to lose, yet both went out to win and it gave the very involved spectators many memorable moments.

Recounting first half chances might be futile, given the goalmouth action after the break, but there was hardly a struck match between two robust and imaginative sides who deserved to get at least a goal apiece on the scoreboard before the interval.

The two keepers had narrow escapes with one Pablo Cardozo shot cleared off the Glory line in the 28th and shots from Damien Mori and Alistair Edwards going wide with the Olympic defence already well breached.

It was always going to be a lively second period judging by its opening moments and also based on the attacking play produced by both teams in the first 45 minutes.

Two minutes had elapsed when a free kick from Kasey Wehrman was nodded back by Jamie Harnwell at the far post for Scott Miller to let fly with a shot which smashed against the crossbar and then back out again.

Sydney Olympic, like their opponents, were using the counter attack deliberately and it seemed that any goals in this game would come about from this approach, as much as any other. The speedy Lindsay Wilson got away down the right in the 50th and his rapid-fire cross to the near post was volleyed oh so sweetly past Jason Petkovic by the popular George Goutzioulis for the opening goal of the game.

Glory almost conceded a second inside two minutes when Scott Baillie ghosted between two defenders in the centre to head a Troy Halpin free kick straight at the busy keeper.

A minute later the scores were level once more.

Wehrman broke fast and sent a delightful, delicate diagonal ball to the far post on the left of goal for Edwards to run onto and the vastly experienced former Socceroo was then able to cut back inside and beat Clint Bolton with a nice chip into the top right corner.

It took just two more minutes for Olympic to almost regain the lead with the Perth defence clearing desperately, twice in succession, from Wilson and Cardozo.

Instead, it was the visitors who went in front, with a goal from Bobby Despotovski who benefitted from some good vision by Mori who had found captain Gareth Naven wide on the left and who was able to nod the ball back into the centre where Despotovski coolly slotted home.

The lead did not last long, however, as Baillie managed to succeed in heading in another Halpin free kick, after earlier finding only the keeperís gloves.

The game was only 63 minutes old and the score had already reached 2-2 with the four goals coming inside 13 minutes.

It soon became five in 15, as Mori seized his chance in a crowded Olympic penalty area when a series of low crosses and passes from the right byline had caused the home defence much difficulty and a complete inability to clear their lines.

Eventually the ball ran free to Mori who stabbed it home.

Olympic went into overdrive once they realised that they really had to get cracking in the last half-hour if they were to stay ahead of Perth on the ladder, separated as they were by just one point going into the game.

Macallisterís shot was beaten away by Petkovic in the 68th and Naven made a great saving tackle on the lively Elias Augerinos in the 71st with Halpin also testing the talented keeper in this frantic sequence.

Then Olympic coach Branko Culina threw on his two young substitutes Franco Parisi and Doumanis.

Perth had lost Edgar Junior to a first half injury and Berndt Stange elected to pull off a bruised and bloodied Edwards in the 82nd, but it was only a minute later that we saw the goal that sent the crowd into raptures.

A cross from the right by Wilson was headed forcefully back to the edge of the area by Ante Juric and when it reached Doumanis nobody sensed the danger, certainly not Petkovic.

The keeper appeared to allow the shot from Doumanis to go unchecked, but its power and accuracy must have proved deceptive, as the ball, struck from fully thirty yards, flew into the top right corner of the net and with it went two of the three points Perth may have thought were honestly theirs.

On balance though neither side deserved to lose this match and the final outcome should not have disappointed or surprised either camp.

It gave great value for money for the crowd which was in good voice and the large contingent of Glory supporters must have enjoyed their Sydney visit enormously, even if they only had one point to go home and celebrate.

The six goals they saw surely more than made up for that.