Olympic v Western Pride

Olympic FC are set for a third straight PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland Finals Series appearance after defeating Western Pride 3-2 at Goodwin Park on Sunday.

Skipper Danny Byrne’s goal on the hour ultimately proved decisive for the hosts with Olympic’s Youeil Shol and Pride’s Mitchell Bird both notched braces.

The win secures Olympic a fourth place finish in the standings, meaning they will face an away Semi Final in a fortnight against the eventual PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland 2015 Premiers.

For Pride, the match marked a sixth consecutive outing without a win to close their 2015 campaign.

Olympic made a dream start to the match after Shol opened accounts inside five minutes, shuffling home the finish on the bounce from a corner.

However, Pride restored parity only a minute later when Bird also converted from a corner kick with a strong finish on the turn.

Bird spurned a chance to edge Pride ahead on the quarter hour after sending a lobbed finish over on-rushing Olympic goalkeeper Brandon Cuminao but wide of the post.

Midway through the half Pride striker Harrison Sawyer got in behind the line, however his pass to the supporting Majok Piok allowed enough time for Cuminao to close down the shot.

Pride continued to dominate the chances before Olympic struck against the run of play late in the half – Shol wrapping up his double and third goal of the season with a strong finish.

A slow start to the second half was abruptly ended when the hosts doubled their advantage on the hour – Byrne netting his 40th PlayStation 4 NPL Queensland career goal with a composed finish after being teed-up by Tim Smits.

From thereon the chances remained predominantly with Pride but their toil went unrewarded until the final minutes – substitute Todd Norris shooting over the crossbar, before Sawyer was denied at close range by a sharp save from Cuminao.

Bird finally pegged a goal back in the 81st minute by slotting a well-placed finish across Cuminao to secure his brace.

However, the visitors were unable to salvage a point from the last chance of the game when substitute Gabriel Hawash saw his headed attempt pushed wide by Cuminao.

Speaking post-match, Olympic coach Jim Bellas expressed his relief at securing a place in the Finals Series, but conceded it wasn’t his side’s best showing this season.

“Today’s performance was a bit sloppy (and) we had a lot of young kids in the team and once they scored their second goal we started to panic because we knew we had to win the game,” Bellas said.

Pride captain Jesse Rigby said despite closing out the 2015 season with a defeat the club is eager to make further inroads in 2016.

“It’s looking positive. Graham’s a good coach and he has a lot in store for next year I think, so it will be interesting,” Rigby said.

Olympic FC  3 (Youeil SHOL 4’ 42’, Danny BYRNE 61’)
Western Pride FC  2 (Mitchel BIRD 5’ 81’)