A classy first-half strike from dynamic attacker Jez Lofthouse has delivered Olympic FC a winning start to their National Premier Leagues campaign following a solid 1-0 win over Gold Coast United.
One of the break-out stars of last year's FFA Cup, Lofthouse’s 31st minute strike proved decisive for the hosts at Goodwin Park on Tuesday night, as they dominated large swathes of the contest.
The result lifts Ben Cahn’s Olympic side to second on the NPL Queensland table following a rain-affected opening round of the competition in the Sunshine State, and furthers the Yeronga club's unbeaten record against the Surfsiders to five matches since 2018.
Kicking off in sodden conditions, last year’s Grand Finalists had all the early running as they looked to make a bright start to their 2020 campaign against a United outfit under the guidance of former Hyundai A-League Premiership winner Kristian Rees.
Lively attacker Lofthouse delivered the first meaningful threat on goal on 11 minutes when he pulled a shot wide of the target, while Daniel Leck came closer still shortly after when his firmly hit free-kick clattered off the crossbar.
United appeared to have steadied the ship, albeit without threatening themselves, as the contest settled into the half-hour, but then Lofthouse made the breakthrough.
Jinking and twisting in the box, the youngster shook his marker and then converted with a firm finish on a tight angle to sneak his shot past United goalkeeper Aidan Munford.
Again United appeared to steady but could not fashion a shot against the organised Olympic defence, who nearly doubled their lead immediately prior to the break when Costa Psaros – in his 100th game for the club – fired a shot straight at Munford.
The chances kept coming for the hosts in the second stanza as former Hyundai A-League Championship winner Matt Mundy shot wide from an early corner, before Psaros should have done better with time and space in the box as he fired high and wide.
United’s first clear-cut chance came on 53 minutes when former NPL Queensland Golden Boot winner Sam Smith sent a shot wide of the near post from a promising position, while Olympic’s Kazuyo Ito came closer still with a deflected strike from range just before the hour.
The visitors were increasingly emboldened by the hosts inability to make their control of the contest extend further on the scoreboard, and found their first shot on target with a quarter hour remaining from Brandon Reeves.
However, they remained vulnerable at the back as Lofthouse immediately forced a save from Munford on the counter-attack before Daniel Leck also called the United shot-stopper into action with a low strike.
With time running out, Daniel Driver was next to huff-and-puff without reward for Olympic as his strike from top of the box faded wide. It prompted a late surge from the visitors – however, Reeves failed to turn in a cross at the back post under heavy defensive pressure spurn the chance to snag a point for his side.
United will now look to dust themselves off ahead of their Round 2 derby clash with Gold Coast Knights on Saturday at Coplick Family Sports Park, while Olympic will look to back-up their win with another home clash against fellow Brisbanites Eastern Suburbs on Sunday.
Feature image courtesy of Olympic FC