Sydney FC NPL Bounce Back

Sydney FC continued its rich run of form in the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition as the young chargers took care of business defeating Sydney Olympic 3-1 at the Ilinden Sports Centre in a sparkling displaying of counter attacking football.

A stunning Jaiden Kucharski brace and assist for Zac Sapsford put a resolute Sydney Olympic to bed cancelling out substitute Marley Peterson’s opener in the second-half.

First-half substitute Peterson was on hand to fire in a scorching shot from the edge of the area to open the scoring in the 54th minute before Sapsford set up Kucharski in the 59’ minute to restore parity.

Kucharski levelled the score with another trademark run to set up Sapsford for Sydney FC’s third proved invaluable in wrapping up the game when drifting through what has been a tough Olympic defence with five minutes remaining.

Kucharski thought he had opened the scoring in the fifth minute when Nick Sorras parried a Clayton Taylor shot into his path but the strike was ruled out for offside in a very lively start to the match.

Sapsford was next to gain the headlines when beating his man but sending his effort across the face with no-one following in to tap home.

Olympic were forced to endure the early pressure as the young guns of Sydney FC made all the early running and but for fractions should have taken the lead.

Sam McIlhatton fired goalward from the edge of the area, but his shot was blocked away for a corner from a delightful move down the right flank involving Roy O’Donovan, Darcy Burgess and Oliver Puflett to create the opening.

O’Donovan brought the best out of keeper Max Vartuli between the sticks when holding onto the ball from a crisply struck shot as the visitors, having weathered the early storm, began to peg the Sky Blues back.

Sydney FC should still have gone ahead after twenty-six minutes when creating a four on two situation with Oscar Priestman setting up Taylor, but Sorras was quick to react to palm the ball down and the defence cleared.

Olympic made an early change when Peterson came on in the 29th minute for Adam Parkhouse.

Sapsford saw his header cleared off the line and again the Olympic defence stood strong when called upon to do so but most of the chances were falling the way of the home side, particularly with their quick transition.

However, half-time came with the match all square at nil-all despite the chances created and either spurned or saved in an entertaining 45 minutes of football.

Mathieu Cordier replaced Will Angel after the break as Olympic looked to change things up and lessen the threat imposed by Sydney FC down their left wing.

Kucharski stole the ball in a dangerous position and centred for Sapsford who, at full stretch, fired straight at Sorras and another chance went begging.

But it was Sydney Olympic who went immediately up the other end to open the scoring with a searing shot through a crowd of bodies from substitute Peterson beating the desperate attempts of Vartuli to keep it out.

However, this Sydney FC side is made of sterner stuff and when Sapsford clipped the ball into the area the ever dangerous Kucharski headed home to restore parity in the 59th minute – And came very close to adding a second less than 60 seconds after from a cross on the right, he headed narrowly wide with Sorras scrambling.

Kucharski added his and Sydney FC’s second in the 70th minute after a trademark run and rasping shot that nearly burst the net such was the ferocity with which he hit it.

It was the talented attacker’s eighth goal of the NPL NSW Men’s campaign as his brace put him atop of the 2022 Golden Boot chart alongside Blacktown City’s Jordan Smylie.

The visitors had a goal wiped out for offside as the game become stretched but with the opportunity not taken it was that man Kucharski who capped of a wonderful performance when setting off through the middle once more, set up Sapsford to prod home Sydney FC’s third to settle a thoroughly absorbing tie.

Sydney FC coach Jimmy van Weeren, was one delighted coach at the final whistle.

“How we reacted to the result last week was important,” he said.

“We were not on our game then, but this group of players are showing maturity beyond their years.

“It took time to break down Olympic as they have one of the best defensive units in the NPL and they proved today why.

“Our guys train full-time and are fit and eager and one of our strengths is when we are in transition and the pace we can inject in getting in behind but we also defended well as a unit today.

“It was a terrific performance all around from the players and they deserve a lot of credit for what they are achieving this season but whether it’s first place or a top five position makes no difference, we need to keep that intensity in our game.

“Today was a good result but we’ll look to our next fixture now and get ourselves ready for that.”

It was a different mood in the opposing dressing sheds as Sydney Olympic Coach Ante Juric lamented on what could have been after a tough few days following the Blues’ exit from the Australia Cup bowing out to League One outfit St George City on penalties during the week.

“We spoke about their pace in transition and worked on it but unfortunately didn’t deal with it today,” he said.

“They are very quick in transition; it’s their key and they are very good at it.

“It was a quality game of football, but we need to capitalise on our chances, and we had a number today, that we didn’t put away.

“This is just one game and it’s a long season and you need to learn from each result and look toward improving on it.

“Although we would have preferred a different outcome, it is one game and there’s plenty of games to come so we’ll prepare for next week and focus on that.”

Match Stats

Sydney FC 3 (Jaiden Kucharski 59’,70’, Zac Sapsford 85’)

Sydney Olympic 1 (Marley Peterson 54’)

Ilinden Sports Centre, Rockdale

Sunday 24th April 2022

Referee: Christian Verdicchio

Assistants: Brodie Merchant and Amir Hosnani

Fourth Official: Nicholas Kour

Sydney FC: 20. Max Vartuli, 3. Aaron Gurd, 4. Nathan Grimaldi, 7. Aidan Simmons, 10. Jaiden Kucharski, 12. Jake Girdwood-Reich, 13. Clayton Taylor, 14. Zac Sapsford, 17. Jayden Trenkoski, 18. Oscar Priestman, 28. Louis Agosti (16. Matthew Scarcella 62’)

Subs not used: 1. Gus Hoesfloot, 5.Kai Kamikura, 15. Luka Smyth, 27. Dejan Bakrdanikoski, 33. Zane Schreiber

Yellow Cards: Grimaldi 41’

Red Cards: Nil

Sydney Olympic: 1. Nick Sorras, 3. Nikola Udjer, 4. Ben Van Meurs, 5. Michael Glassock, 7. Will Angel (12. Mathieu Cordier 46’), 8. Sam McIlhatton (22. Fabio Ferreira 79’), 9. Oliver Pufflet (10. Brendan Cholakian 79’), 11. Adam Parkhouse (17. Marley Peterson 29’), 19. Darcy Burgess, 23. Daniel Dias, 99. Roy O’Donovan

Subs not used: 2. Tom Whiteside, 20. Chris Parsons

Yellow Cards: Mathieu Cordier 52’, Marley Peterson 74’, Ben van Meurs 90+2’

Red Cards: Nil

Player Ratings

3 – Jaiden Kucharski (SFC)

2 – Zac Sapsford (SFC)

1 – Oscar Priestman (SFC)