Canberra Olympic continued to rewrite the history books as they progressed to the semi-finals of the Westfield FFA Cup on Tuesday night as a 95th minute penalty from Angelo Konstantinou saw them claim an upset victory over Green Gully at Deakin Stadium.
Konstantinou hammered in the winning goal with the last kick of an absorbing encounter to set up a last four clash with Hyundai A-League giants Sydney FC and continue a remarkable 60th Anniversary season for the club.
The first half proved a tough one for the home side, with the visitors’ Green Gully clearly the better side across the opening forty-five minutes. Jay Davies looked dangerous through the middle of the park, and when afforded too much space looked like he could cut open the Olympic defence at will.
The visitors were firmly on the front foot and Matthew Reid came close after just nine minutes as he flashed a header narrowly across goal from a corner. Gully continued to push as they forced mistakes amongst Olympic’s scattered backline. The home side slowly began to work their way back into the contest but their best chance was limited to Tim Bobolas’ pile-driver from outside the box that went straight at Rani Dowisha in goal for an easy take.
The best chance of the first half came courtesy of Liam Boland, the man known for his incredible match-winning strike against the Central Coast Mariners. Sizing up a free kick just metres outside the box after 36 minutes, the target man struck the ball beautifully, but crashed it against the crossbar as Konstantinou got close in goals.
Boland was again challenging the Olympic custodian minutes later, this time under a high ball in the goalmouth from a corner. Evan Christodoulou headed straight at Konstantinou in the dying minutes of the half, as the sides headed into the break locked scoreless.
Both teams started slowly after the break, but the tension in the game quickly rose as heated exchanges marked the first 15 minutes. A scuffle involving most players after a handball in the 58th minute was soon diffused, with Olympic’s Adam Rogic and Gully’s Jay Davies both cautioned as a result.
But just moments later, Rogic saw yellow again and was given his marching orders as he appeared to kick out at Gully Captain Daniel Jones while he lay on the floor after a challenge from Jones had clearly rattled the Olympic midfielder. Gully immediately looked to make their numerical advantage count as they pushed onto the attack, while Olympic Coach Frank Cachia brought on livewire Jeremy Habtemariam for Michael Reeve as both sides looked to break the deadlock.
Just five minutes after Rogic’s dismissal, Gully had the chance of the evening. Nicholas Krousaratis was sent through by Davies and after beating Konstantinou from a tight angle, saw his shot roll agonisingly past the far post. Olympic had an opportunity of their own shortly after as Philippe Bernabo-Madrid and Tom McLachlan exchanged passes on the edge of the area but McLachlan was brilliantly tackled in the box as he shaped to shoot.
Davies then tried his luck from range and his curler looked to be in for all money at the far post before it flashed narrowly wide at the last. Both sides continued to trade blows for the final 20 minutes but neither was able to create the definitive chance needed.
The home side began to push hard with only seconds left, and after having a counter shut down broke down the right again. Tim Bobolas’ low cross was turned away but midfielder Jeremy Habtemariam, following up,was clattered into late by Rodrigo Vargas. Referee Luke Withell barely hesitated before pointing to the spot and sending Deakin into raptures. Konstantinou calmly strode down the field as he always does to take the spot-kick.
After some arguing in the box, Gully attempting to put off the Futsalroos international goalkeeper, a yellow-card for time-wasting for Vargas and some honest trash talk amongst the involved parties, the Olympic keeper thrashed his spot-kick off the underside of the bar and sent his side through to the semi-finals.
FIXTURE DATE AND VENUE FOR THE WESTFIELD FFA CUP SEMI-FINAL v SYDNEY FC IS YET TO BE CONFIRMED.
Photos: Lawrence Atkin