Sydney Olympic crowned U20 Champions
Sydney Olympic are the PlayStation 4 NPL NSW Men’s U20’s champions for 2016 after the Blues clinched the Grand Final with a 3-1 penalty shootout victory at Leichhardt Oval.
Aedon Kyra’s first half opener sent Olympic on course for the eighth victory in a row but a superb free kick from Mitchell Rooke midway through the second half forced the contest in extra time.
Manly survived a late scare in the final moments of extra time after a series of Olympic raids but the Premiers were undone from the penalty spot with goalkeeper Emmanuel Consoni pulling off three crucial saves to pave way for Sebastian Melfara’s championship-winning spot kick.
Olympic finished the regular campaign nine points behind the Premiers after scraping into fifth spot but the finals outsiders returned a performance of real authority against a star-studded Manly outfit.
Continuing their scintillating form that has seen John Theodoropoulos’ side claim the scalps of Sutherland, APIA Leichhardt and Bonnyrigg en route to Leichhardt Oval, Olympic started the contest in the ascendancy.
Sebastian Melfara and Nikita Andricopoulos have been standout performers in the finals series and the two wingers nearly combined for the opening foal when Melfara spotted the former Blacktown City man at the back post with a sumptuous angled ball, but having surged into the box Andricopoulos was unable to produce a telling connection.
It was one of few genuine first half opportunities for the Blues, who saw Melfara flash a long-range effort wide minutes later, but a promising start was finally rewarded on the cusp of half-time when Kyra slammed the ball home at the back post following an enterprising team move involving Manoli Nicolau and Andricopoulos.
The Premiers launched their first real spell of pressure minutes after the restart, with Olympic shot stopper Consoni pushing Rooke’s free-kick past the post.
Despite conceding most of the halves possession, Olympic remained relatively untroubled until their resistance was broken by a moment of quality from Mitchell Rooke, who struck a superb free kick from thirty yards to restore parity.
Manly’s resurgence continued and Julian Rinaldi was presented with a golden chance after an error from Olympic skipper James Combes but Consoni was once out quickly to smother the danger, while Charlie Baker saw his effort from range fizz past the post.
It was Olympic who looked more likely to steal a winner in the final minutes and only a heroic sequence of defending from the Manly rearguard and goalkeeper Shaun Catlin denied a pair of powerfully struck efforts from Michael Loupis and Eoin Montford.
An end to end passage of extra time saw Loupis denied again by Catlin after a surging run down the right flank, before Manly let a huge chance slip through their fingers when substitute Matthew Zanon glanced Sipan Berti’s cut back wide of the post.
A nervy penalty shootout ensued with Peter Liaskos and Jake De Marigny blazing efforts wide for Olympic but it was Consoni’s heroics from 12 yards – including three excellent diving saves from Rooke, Baker and Hamish Galbraith – that ensured the 2016 U20’s Championship would be Belmore bound a year after Olympic’s semi-final heartbreak.
Manly United (Rooke 68’)
Sydney Olympic (Kyra 39’)
Sunday 11th of September 2016
Leichhardt Oval, Lilyfield
Referee: J. Macfarlane
Assistant Referee: B. Lovric & N. McOrist
Fourth Official: M. McOrist
Manly United: 30. Todd Balneaves, 20. Shaun Catlin, 23. Hamish Galbraith, 12. Henry Gallagher (26. Charlie Baker 66’), 24. Aiden Hancock (32. Matthew Zanon 87’), 27. Brandon Lemay, 25. Alexander Partridge, 34. Edward Rinaldi (33. Rory Spiers 58’), 28. Mitchell Rooke, 36. Nathan Separovic (35. Julian Rinaldi 66’), 16. Sipan Berti
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Mackenzie Syron
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
Sydney Olympic: 82. Nikita Andricopoulos (48. Peter Liaskos 85’), 50. James Combes, 85. Ezequiel Consoni, 15. Jake De Marigny, 16. Oliver Green, 40. Steven Katsionis, 39. Manoli Nicolau, 51. Sebastian Malfara, 37. Eoin Montford, 81. Aedon Kyra (52. Michael Loupis 70’), 38. Stephen Athanaseris (49. Adrian Hadjisocratous 70’)
Substitutes Not Used: 71. Conner Antoniou, 1. Evan Davis
Yellow Cards: 16. Jake De Marigny 37’, 52. Michael Loupis 73’
Red Cards: N/A
-By Jacob Windon