Blacktown City Crowned 2014 Champions
Blacktown City FC were crowned the 2014 IGA National Premier Leagues NSW Men's 1 Champion after an enthralling Grand Final win over Sydney Olympic in a game that seemed to be right in the balance until the final whistle.
After 120 minutes of exhilarating play, Blacktown City FC just pipped Sydney Olympic at the post after scores were level at 1-1 after 90 minutes. It was indeed a fitting way to end the season on a beautiful Sunday afternoon at Sydney United Sports Centre at Edensor Park
The opening salvo of the game belonged to Blacktown City who in the fifth minute tried their luck with Mitchell Mallia's powerful shot from the left, but veteran goalkeeper Paul Henderson was ever alert to parry away the attempt.
In the 10' minute Sydney Olympic should really have opened the scoring when Dimitri Hatzimouratis very nicely fed the ball to Harris Gaitatzis who turned superbly and fired into the base of the left-hand post with Nenad Vekic well beaten. It was as close as Sydney Olympic got in the first stanza of play.
In the 17' minute Blacktown City went close when a shot trickled just wide of the post and in the 25' minute a drive from Ryuji Miyazawa was well blocked by Henderson but possibly it was going wide anyway.
The opening goal came shortly afterwards when a Kearyn Baccus rocket was luckily deflected in by Miyazawa who happened to be standing in the right place at the right time in the box. There was very little that Henderson could do to prevent the goal given the wicked deflection of which Miyazawa, bound for J-League 2 after this game, knew very little about.
In the 42' minute a Harris Gaitatzis free-kick from the right was just marginally too high for Brendan Hooper who only glanced his header and as such the ball went just wide.
Referee Stephen Lucas brought to a halt the proceedings shortly afterwards. In the second half, the men in blue seemed to have come out of the dressing sheds with a renewed purpose and they were certainly determined to wind back their narrow deficit.
In the 63' minute Brendan Hooper received a cross after a short corner and, with a header from point-blank range, he found Nenad Vekic who pulled off the save of the game with a delightful punch away. It was very close for Grant Lee's team as they continued to create space and put pressure on Blacktown City's defence.
In the 79' minute Christos Tomaras scored arguably one of the goals of the season with a volley from distance that ended up in the back of the net. It was no more than Sydney Olympic deserved as they had clearly been building towards this equaliser in the second half with their clever play.
In the 88' minute a blistering free-kick from Hatzimouratis ended up just wide of the intended target and it could easily have been the winner that Olympic were seeking.
In the dying minutes, in time added-on, a blistering shot from Tomaras was spectacularly saved by goalkeeper Vekic and the game then duly proceeded into extra time with a total of thirty extra minutes to be played.
The Grand Final continued under the floodlights and in the 92' minute Travis Major, the IGA NPL NSW Mens 1 Player of the Year, received a wonderful ball from Sasa Macura and then he proceeded to thread it beautifully in the back of the net past an outstretched Henderson. It in the end it was to be the winning goal and the one that gave Blacktown City the lead once again in this great contest.
In the 97' minute an incisive run from Baccus on the right was in the end nicely turned over the crossbar by Henderson. However, Sydney Olympic replied in the 103' minute: a nice cross from Tiaga Soeda was destined for the head of a teammate until Vekic bravely punched the ball away. It was a very good game from the Blacktown City shot stopper.
Early in the second half of extra time Harris Gaitatzis fired just over the crossbar as Sydney Olympic went once again on search of an equaliser.
In the 122' minute Baccus fired just over the crossbar too at the other end as Blacktown City tried very hard to put the game beyond doubt. Shortly afterwards Miyazawa charged into the box after winning the ball from an opponent, but in the end he pulled the trigger just wide in another close call.
With only minutes left on the clock Taiga Soeda tried an audacious chip from an acute angle and the ball narrowly drifted wide of Vekic's goal. It would have been another absolutely superb goal from Sydney Olympic.
Right at the death a header from Hooper after a cross from Taiga Soeda ended up on the crossbar and it couldn't have been closer for the men in blue. However, shortly afterwards, the impeccable referee Stephen Lucas blew fulltime on the season and Mark Crittenden's team can proudly claim the title in 2014.
To view images of the final click here
Blacktown City FC 2
(Ryuji Miyazawa 26', Travis Major 92')
Sydney Olympic 1
(Christos Tomaras 79')
Sunday 14th September, 2014
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
-By Joe Russo, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Reporter, at Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park.