In a game where the two defences stood tall, Adelaide Olympic, who travelled to Jack Smith Park looking for maximum points, had to settle for a draw against a strong-willed West Torrens Birkalla in their Round Five Play Station 4 National Premier League match.
It was an entertaining game played in warm conditions, with the ball travelling from end to end at a frantic pace.
Wasted chances by both teams would prove costly by the end of the ninety minutes.
— WT Birkalla (@WTBirkalla) March 18, 2017
The central defenders for both sides were impregnable. Birkalla’s Captain Tom Dittmar was solid alongside Adam Le Cornu who was at his stingiest best. At the other end of the park, Yosief Ambesager, and Andrea Dallera were rock solid repelling Birkalla’s forward forays.
The first quarter hour belonged to Birkalla who started the game firing on all cylinders.
It was the hosts who had two great opportunities early in the game to open the scoring.
Both chances falling to the energetic Jake Monaco. His second minute strike went just wide, while a 6th minute William Plush cross found Monaco in the six-yard box with an open goal beckoning, but the winger sprayed his shot.
As the heat started to take effect, the game turned into a real arm wrestle with neither side able to take full command.
The Birkalla wing backs in Plush and Davide Zerillo were giving good service to their forwards through their respective wing channels, but the resolute Olympic defence were equal to the challenge.
After a well-earned drinks break, it was the nimble Fumiya Suzuki’s turn to bring the crowd to their feet with a fantastic long range shot that cannoned into the apex of the woodwork.
Olympic slowly worked their way into the contest late in the half, Alemayo, Shaun Brennan and Samuel Tesfagabr wrestled back the control of the midfield allowing the trio to setup some forward raids of their own.
A 38th minute strike by Olympic forward Manni Katopodis was well saved by Birkalla keeper Joe Gauci.
Olympic had a good final ten minutes of the half. Brennan looked dangerous when venturing close to the box, but was being denied the opportunity to balance on his preferred left side by some good defending by Le Cornu and Dittmar.
Both teams welcomed referee Gary Mooney’s half-time whistle, as the players looked to the changerooms for some relief from the heat.
The second half opened with more vigour on show by both teams, the over exuberance of emotions led to referee Mooney issuing cautions to get the game back under his control.
Tito Bontor was seeing more of the ball on the right wing as the game opened up.
Olympic began to venture forward with a little more freedom, Yosief who was outstanding in the back half, was the initiator with some pin-point long passing out of defence.
Olympic who were being presented with good opportunities to breaking the deadlock with some good intense pressure on the player with the ball without any luck.
Both coaches used their bench to inject fresh legs into the contest as the tempo of the game reached a new level.
Birkalla substitute Jordan Spadavecchia’s 60th minute close range shot on goal was well blocked by Olympic defender Dallera in his defensive six-yard box.
The final phase of the game belonged completely to Olympic who mounted a strong challenge that saw Birkalla put up a spirited defence, Le Cornu brilliant in his defensive efforts.
Olympics’ substitutes George Asalanidis and Christos Pounendis nearly delivered the goods for their side with two superb strikes on goal which were denied by the woodwork, to the relief of Birkalla’s keeper Gauci.
The first in the 72nd minute when a clean Alemayo pass found Asalanidis on the edge of the box, the winger’s shot ricocheting off the right upright. And moments later Pounendis, who found space out wide, blasted a shot on goal, only to see his attempt rebound off the left upright.
The gild edge chance of the game for Olympic came in the 80th minute when Bontor weaved through traffic and found Alemayo with a brilliant through ball at the edge of the six-yard box.
But the normally clinical finisher was denied by Birkalla’s young seventeen year old gloveman Gauci with a save no superlatives could describe, a save that would eventually salvage Birkalla a point from the game.
— WT Birkalla (@WTBirkalla) March 18, 2017
It was a tired and disappointed Olympic defender Yosief after the match, knowing too well a win had slipped through their grasp.
“We started slow today, they were very good early, but we fought back and it was even at halftime.” Yosief said
“Our second half was a lot better with more pressure on the player with the ball, which was what the coach (Branko Milosevic) had demanded.”
“It was a fast game early, but by the end the heat really got to the players and everyone slowed up a bit.”
We deserved the win, but if you don’t put the ball into the back of the net you not going to win too many games,” the talented defender added.
An exhausted Adam Le Cornu knew that missed chances early cost them at the end.
“We had a really good start to the game with a couple of early chances that we should have nailed which would have put us in a good position.” Le Cornu said
“They (Birkalla) defended their goal well and made it hard for us going forward all day.”
Le Cornu paid tribute to his colleagues who held their nerve to the end, denying Olympic three points.
“Olympic really came at us in the final stages of the game, but credit to the boys, Tommy (Dittmar), Plushy (William Plush) and Davide (Zerillo) we all dug deep in hot conditions to scrape a draw.”
“Everyone was tiring towards the end, they had a couple of good chance but the woodwork saved us, but that’s football.”
Le Cornu had a special mention for Joe Gauci’s heroics in the Birkalla goals, who pulled off what proved to be a match saving stop.
“He is only seventeen, and still learning his caper but that late save helped us salvage a draw.”
Missed chances, solid defending, and plenty of talent on show, was the tale of this game between two desperate sides, happy in the end to share the points.
Written by Joe Pangallo