On a waterlogged pitch at Darling St Oval, Hamilton Olympic drew first blood, beating Lambton Jaffas 2-1 in the second semi-final of the 2015 NPL competition.
Jaffas almost opened their account in the first minute when Luke Remington made a darting run into the Olympic box and despite being forced wide by Mason Campbell, fired a shot narrowly wide of the post.
Fifteen minutes later, Simon Mooney sent in a floating ball to the head of Kane Goodchild from a free kick who screwed his header slightly wide of Brad Swancott’s goal.
The opening 20 minutes of play are even but Jobe Wheelhouse, parked in front of Jaffas’ back four, is seeing a lot of the ball and is distributing passes unchallenged!
The first threat from Olympic comes from a long range blast by Ben Koina who forces the outstretched Swanson to fingertip the ball out.
In the 35th minute Simon Mooney curls in a ball to Jacob Bailey from a free kick who sends a powerful glancing header crashing onto the bar and into the Jaffas net! Olympic are up 1-0!
Only seconds before half time another well taken free kick by Simon Mooney forces a great save by Brad Swanson to keep the score at 1-0 by the half time interval!
The game is tough and in keeping with the previous two during the season in which both teams cancelled each other out and which both ended in draws.
Ten minutes into the second half Reece Cooper puts Simon Mooney through wide on the right, who side-steppes past a defender, only to fire over the post.
The warning signs are there and the smell of a second goal is imminent!
On the hour mark, Pat Brown executes a corner from the right and the towering figure of Kane Goodchild sends in another powerful header which ends up into the Jaffas net!
With the score at 0-2, Jaffas push forward in search for a goal which will keep them in the tie. Olympic are pushed back inside their half and behind the ball. It’s a cat and mouse game with Jaffas needing to score and Olympic relishing the prospect of catching them on the counter and scoring a third!
This is exactly what almost happened in the 68th minute when Ben Koina and Matthew Swan counter attacked and with only two defenders in front of them back-peddling, the former unleashed a powerful drive from outside the box which beat the goalkeeper but which cannoned off the bar and back into play instead of ending up at the back of the net!
Jaffas continue to push forward in search of the goal that will keep them in the tie and are unable to create a clear goal scoring chance.
Luke Remington receives the ball on the right but fires wide.
Fifteen minutes from time, a one-two combination between John Majurovski and Peter Macpherson, enables the later to create enough time and space to unleash a shot which ends up at the back of Danny Ireland’s net!
Two further opportunities present themselves through Reece Cooper for Olympic and Luke Remington for Jaffas before the referees final whistle finds Olympic 2-1 victors.
Olympic have drawn first blood but the tie is by no means over for either team. There is plenty of work for both sides next Sunday afternoon at Arthur Eden Oval.
Source: Tom Tsamouras