R22 Wrap: Adelaide United vs. Adelaide Olympic
Adelaide Olympic secured their survival in the 2017 PlayStation 4 National Premier League with a 2-1 victory over Adelaide United at Elite Systems Football Centre on Saturday.
United did enough to ensure they weren't defeated by the three goal margin which may have saw themselves relegated had a series of other results gone against them and will also remain in the State's top-flight next season.
The home side dominated the early stages, with Adelaide United's Youth side prepared to play their attacking style of football through the middle of the park.
Olympic showed their intention early by setting up with a back five, happy to defend deep and try to catch United on the quick break. And (Olympic Coach) Maurice Natale’s tactics paid early dividends in the 6th minute of the game, when against the run of play Olympic were able to force a corner. Shaun Brennan’s long cross from the left found an unmarked Fausto Erba whose clinical strike beat a stranded John Hall in the United goal.
But United responded with an equaliser in the 10th minute, when some sloppy defending by Olympic, allowed Joshua Mori to get his head to a beautifully weighted cross by Strain. The ball seemed to be cleared off the line, but the referee’s assistant signalled the goal.
United continued to press high, Riley McGree, Blake Carpenter and Alec Maiolo were seeing a lot of the ball. Strain looked dangerous as he ghosted in the penalty box, as the Olympic defence was put under pressure. Christos Pounendis, David Makridis and Michael Papacharalambous did their best to repel the United forward forays.
Olympic always looked the more likely scorer as they moved the ball forward with fluency, while United lacked the polish to finish in front of goal.
The visitors were rewarded a penalty in the 27th minute after a crude tackle on Erba, with the talented Shaun Brennan stepping to the plate to slot the ball into the back of the net for Olympic’s second goal of the game.
Olympic began to work their way into the match in the shades of halftime. And it was now United’s turn to defend their goal. Paul Wilson and Benjamin Warland did their best to control proceeding in the United defence.
Both coaches would have had an eye on the results from the other games during the break, as they plotted their tactics for the second half.
United opened the second half full of run and nearly had the equaliser in the 51st minute with consecutive shots on goal only to be denied by some good reflex saves by Da Lucia.
Olympic wrestled back some momentum through Jarius Wyten and Manni Katopdis and nearly had a third goal on the board in a 64th minute attempt by Erba, but his strike went wide of the upright.
Another clumsy United tackle in the 66th minute gifted Brennan with a chance to score a brace, but a one handed save by a diving Hall deprived the feisty midfielder.
From that missed spot kick until the final whistle, both sides were resolute at the back and chances came at a premium which may have been a problem had goals started to fly in at the other relegation-relevant fixtures running simultaneously.
After the match, it was a relieved but somewhat frustrated United striker Ryan Strain who paid tribute to Olympic in the way they setup their defence.
“They setup a five-man wall which was hard to get behind all game. They were really solid back there,” Strain said.
“We tried to move the ball forward quickly but they held their structure well. We just couldn’t create enough chances to hit the scoreboard.”
‘We got the result we were seeking – to keep our spot in the Premier League for next season,” Strain added.
A more positive Christos Pounendis said that they came with a plan to defend first. Then try to catch United on the break and create goal scoring opportunities.
“We went into the game knowing we had to be tight at the back and send the ball forward quickly on the break, which we executed well during the game,” Pounendis said.
“I think we defended well and didn’t allow them an opportunity to catch us with their speed.”
“We were confident we could get a score on the board if we got forward. Fausto (Erba) and Shaun (Brennan) are a good forward combination for us.”
The focus now turns to the final six combatants as they compete for the league’s holy grail.
Written by: Joe Pangallo
Photo by: Andy Williams