All three Nerang teams that faced off against visiting National Premier League club Olympic FC on Saturday have left the field as victors, with a combined score of 8 goals to just a single goal from Olympic over the three games.
The intense heat earlier in the day combined with some intense physicality on the field which left both squads – from U18s through to first grade players – exhausted by days end.
U18s // Nerang 2 – Olympic 0
Reserves // Nerang 4 – Olympic 1
Firsts // Nerang 2 – Olympic 0
Opening with a two to nil win for Nerang’s U18s (most of whom are U16s), the situation only worsened for Olympic in the reserve grade as Nerang striker Jordan Bishop put in two solid goals in the first half, opening the door for the debut of 16-year-old Joseph Fallembu in his first senior game for Nerang.
Fallembu wasted no time with his relentless forward attack, which eventually saw him best two defenders at the top of the 18-yard box to then hook his shot past the goalkeeper for his first senior goal – congratulations Joseph!
Fallembu, was solid in attack and despite coming straight from U16 JPL football in 2018, left his mark on the field and on the Olympic FC scoreline.
A spectacular second-half save by Nerang reserves goalkeeper Riley White had the 200-people-strong crowd cheering as his aerobatic backwards dive denied Olympic a goal from a lob shot that all but seemed destined to go in.
In the first-grade game against Olympic’s NPL squad, Nerang coach Dave Benigno unleashed his highly anticipated Eagles top squad, making an immediate impact which shocked the Olympic back line.
Despite being without star signings Acim Tomic and Tolga Yorulmaz who were out with injury, the Eagles took control of the match from the start and created successive opportunities on goal, putting the Olympic defence under pressure.
Five minutes into the game, Nerang midfielder Max King was collected hard from behind with an agressive missed tackle inside the box – the resulting penalty was put away easily by Alistair Davis who hit a powerful ball through the fingers of the Olympic keeper, which gave Nerang a 1 nil lead early on.
Soon after, Nerang hammered forward and the resulting pressure generated a goalkeeper error from Olympic which saw James Connor fire a second goal into an open goal for a 2 nil lead.
Nerang Premier League coach Dave Benigno was comfortably pleased with the performance by each Nerang squad and said after the games, “My expectations today were that we were going to be hard pressed in all three grades. I’ve played against a lot of NPL sides over the years, in the FFA cup, and they’re always a strong challenge, but the Nerang boys just brought more to the games today and it was easy to see.”
The second half saw Olympic put their best squad onto the park, however, it had little effect as the momentum stayed with Nerang – as did the scoring opportunities – with the Eagles unlucky to not put the ball into the Olympic net again on several occasions.
With minutes to goit was clear that Nerang had the read on the Olympic attack structure and the Eagles dominated in defence, shutting out the visitors, much to the visible and audible frustration of some of the Olympic coaching staff and players.
With a few minutes to spare, Olympic produced probably their only real scoring chance with a firm header from their number 6 in front of the near post, which was duly met by a wall of Nerang players as it missed its mark, sliding past the goal post and out for a goal kick, leaving the game to painfully slip away.
It was an outstanding performance by all of the Nerang players, and none was more notable than the exceptional work put in by Eagles first grade winger Brad Scott in the main game.
Scott was unstoppable, playing both defensive and attacking roles with pace and physicality up the left wing, halting the Olympic attack on many occasions while unleashing deadly counter plays one after the other.
Benigno was impressed by the heart and effort that the entire Nerang crew and players brought on the day saying, “I think that for a team of boys that haven’t been orchestrated and shaped yet, Nerang were outstanding. We came with a bench of 5 and they put on their absolute best side in the second half but they still couldn’t affect the match.
“I’m certainly not disappointed with the NPL structure and style that Olympic brought – they’re a strong side and on any given day they can hurt anyone – but I don’t think they expected that today from us and I think that’s what hurt them.”
The shock wins over the highly-accomplished Olympic FC NPL club have cemented the Eagles as one of the teams to watch as we head into the 2019 Football Gold Coast Premier League season in March.
Nerang return return home to our own fields at Glennon Park this Saturday (January 19th) to face Acacia Ridge, with the U18s kicking off at 1pm, reserve grade at 3pm and the main game kicking off at 5pm.
All photos courtesy Coral Sea Media / Luke Sorensen / @liquifymag