Olympic v Ad City

Round 15 report by Charles Pickett
Sydney Olympic v Adelaide City

A small crowd and a strange kick-off time (thanks ABC) didn t spoil the occasion. It was always going to be a memorable game after Norman Tome scored in the first minute. The goal was an eerie repeat of Ante Juric s stuff-up against Perth: Mark Yates seemed to be in control on the bye-line yet somehow contrived to lay on a perfect ball for an opposition striker.

No doubt Norman couldn t believe his luck. He is now Olympic s highest scorer with 46 goals, having passed Marshall Soper s tally with his two goals against the Cosmos. If the match program is to be believed, Norman was as surprised as anyone at his achievement. Tome became a starting player for Olympic during 1994/5, so his goals have been amassed in slightly more than four campaigns, his best tally being 14 goals in last year s rather lacklustre team. A pretty good record, yet Norman s goals tend not to linger in the memory like Soper s or various other Olympic front men of past years. Efficient rather than charismatic, Tome s attributes were well displayed during this march.

The major difference between the two teams was Olympic s hunger for possession. The two strikers included, they pressed for the ball constantly. Milan Blagojevic made some top interceptions. In contrast, the Zebras seemed content to defend in depth before belting the ball in the general direction of Damian Mori. Despite tireless running and milking not a few free kicks, Mori barely got a sniff at goal and faded from the game.

The main problem for Olympic was their difficulty in closing the game out. Cardozo's goal early in the second half created some breathing space, but Olympic's dominance of midfield and the flanks created a huge number of chances for Emerton and Culina, especially. If Emerton's finishing matched his dribbling, he would be some player. Still, Tobin, Ivanovic and Jason Petkovic are a pretty reasonable last line of defence - the latter came up with a fabulous save from a dipping shot by Culina. Cardozo's goal typified the pressure the City defence was under - Petkovic tipped Pablo s shot against the bar, Tome belted the rebound against the post, before Cardozo calmly slotted the second rebound home.

Olympic was coasting for most of the second half, but almost came unstuck at the end. Terminello took a dive in the box (I'm not saying that he wasn't fouled) and Tobin stepped up. All around me, so many fans were predicting that George Bouhoutsos would save the penalty that it seemed hardly surprising when he did just that! I've seen Tobin penalties saved a few times and have more than once wondered if the Socceroos do not harbour a better practitioner in their constantly-changing ranks. This wasn't a bad penalty, but George certainly knew which way it was going.

In the last minute Brad Hassell volleyed accurately from the edge of the box. Not even George could keep that one out, but the game was up by then. Olympic's best effort of the season even impressed the Herald's Mike Cockerill, so I think we can assume that good times are on the way. Next week sees the visit of Northern Spirit and its famously numerous, famously noisy fans, assuming some of the latter can find their way across the Harbour Bridge to Belmore.