Canberra Olympic claim NPL grand final glory

Canberra Olympic won their first Grand Final since 1997 with a 2-0 victory over League Champions Canberra FC at McKellar Park thanks to an extra time double from Robbie Schroder.

Canberra Olympic won their first Grand Final since 1997 with a 2-0 victory over League Champions Canberra FC at McKellar Park thanks to an extra time double from Robbie Schroder.

The veteran goal-getter was pulled out of retirement by Olympic Coach Leo Exarhos earlier this season and repaid the faith shown in him by getting the vital goals after ninety minutes failed to separate this age-old protagonists in a tight Premier League showdown.

The opening exchanges were just that as both sides struggled to keep possession and coughed up the ball with infuriating regularity making for a fractured and distorted twenty minutes. During the first, frenetic, quarter Oliver Wiederkehr looked sharp for Olympic, causing Matt Grbesa in the Canberra FC defence a headache whilst Ryan Keir headed over an Ivan Pavlak corner - a half-chance that was never likely to trouble an unflustered Angelo Konstantinou in the Olympic goal.

Such was the paucity of entertainment for the big crowd at McKellar Park that the biggest cheer of the first half-hour came when Olympic midfielder Robbie Deeley received a yellow card for a flick out at Grbesa following a challenge between the pair. It was a rare moment of fireworks in an otherwise insipid start to the contest. Adam Perakovic, the erstwhile FC number one, at least got his gloves dirty when fielding a tame Mark Shields cross shot in the 33rd minute but, in the main, two evenly matched teams cancelled each other out.

The game needed a spark of inspiration and Daniel Bennett almost provided it, ghosting in from the right flank, beating his marker and firing a shot at goal that was always drifting wide. Indeed, it was Bennett who fashioned the game-s best chance in the shadows of half-time. After a move between James Field and Adam Spaleta was halted, Bennett swung over a teasing cross that Alex Oloriegbe looked certain to turn home but for some inexplicable reason the forward failed to make contact and the half-time whistle brought a 0-0 stalemate.

It was a similar tale after the interval even though Philippe Bernabo forced Konstantinou into a sharp save low to his left after the 20-goal striker volleyed a chest high shot at goal in the 55th minute. Olympic was first to try and change the course of the battle, sending on the experienced Victor Yanes to play in a deep holding midfield role, screening the back-four and dictating the tempo at which his team would play from the back. And it created the game-s best chance for Olympic.

After a penetrating run from Nick Bobolas was halted via an agricultural challenge from Ivan Pavlak, Olympic was awarded a free-kick 30m from goal. Deeley struck it firmly under the wall but it looked harmless. Perakovic though fumbled the effort but Shields, following up, could only poke the ball over the bar from close range. It did come back quickly to the striker, but he would have hoped to have done better. Moments later Shields skinned his marker and got to the bye-line but Daniel Fulton narrowly failed to connect with the cut-back but the deadlock remained at the end of ninety minutes.

Olympic fired the first salvo in extra-time as Shields directed a downward header at goal that drew a superb one-handed save from Perakovic before Yanes almost beat the Canberra FC ‘keeper with a swirling free-kick that was palmed over for a corner. At the other end Oloriegbe was coming more into the match with his tricky skills threatening an opening whilst James Field sent a dipping half-volley onto the top of the crossbar as the match finally flickered into life.

The breakthrough came in the 110th minute when Schroder, introduced in the 76th minute, struck. The ever willing Shields chased a through ball with Keir and the pair clattered into Perakovic, the ball ran free and from the ground Shields played it back to Schroder who deftly lifted the ball over a ruck of players and into the empty goal. And the same player sealed it with seconds remaining. Shields created it again, chasing a long clearance and feeding the ball square to Schroder who slammed it gleefully into the corner to send the Olympic fans wild with delight.

Canberra FC: 1. Adam PERAKOVIC, 6. Ryan KEIR, 7. Marcin ZYGMUNT, 8. Ian GRAHAM (5. Julian BORGNA 94-), 9. Philippe BERNABO, 11. Ivan PAVLAK, 13. Daniel BENNETT (10. Domenic GIAMPAOLO 76-), 16. Matt GRBESA, 19. Adam SPALETA, 20. James FIELD, 99. Alex OLORIEGBE (14. Josip JADRIC 110-) Substitutes not used: 17. Aiden BRUNSKILL, 18. Jakob COLE

Canberra Olympic: 1. Angelo KONSTANTINOU, 4. Joel VALTONEN, 5. Oliver WIEDERKEHR (13. Robbie SCHRODER 76-), 6. Joshua GASPARI, 7. Robbie DEELEY, 9. Hristjan TANOSKI, 10. Mark SHIELDS, 11. Nathan TIDMARSH, 15. Daniel FULTON, 16. Matt CACHIA (99. Victor YANES 55-), 17. Nick BOBOLAS (3. Chris NIKITAS 116-) Substitutes not used: 2. Tim BOBOLAS, 12. Costa FALLAS

Discipline: YELLOW CARDS: 5. Julian BORGNA, 9. Philippe BERNABO, 10. Domenic GIAMPAOLO, 11. Ivan PAVLAK (Canberra FC), 3. Chris NIKITAS, 5. Oliver WIEDERKEHR, 7. Robbie DEELEY, 99. Victor YANES (Canberra Olympic)

Match Officials: Richard Naumovski (referee), Owen Goldrick, Greg Taylor, Matthew Cropper (4th Official)

Valeri Medal: 9. Hristjan TANOSKI (Canberra Olympic) Attendance: 1,956