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Canberra FC triumphs in grand final replay

Canberra Olympic's woes continued with another loss in the ACT men's premier league yesterday.

The replay of last year's grand final against Canberra FC was marked with a lot less action.

No score blowout, no flares, and just a small scuffle, with FC running out 2-1 winners at Deakin Stadium.

The fifth-round loss was the third for Olympic, with last year's runner-up still struggling to convert its opportunities in the face of strong defensive structures.

''We need to be smarter, a little more intelligent in that final third,'' Olympic Coach Dean Ugrinic said. ''It's going to come, we're not deviating away from it and if teams feel they have to be anti-football to play against us, we'll keep trying to solve the problem.''

Michael Spaleta of Canberra FC opened the scoring in the 20th minute, and for much of the game it looked as though the 1-0 score line would be the final margin.


FC had adopted a defensive formation after letting in five goals the previous week in its loss to Belconnen, and Olympic's attackers generally found they were outnumbered in front of goal.

The visitors narrowly missed a handful of opportunities to even up the score, before Oliver Wiederkehr guided in a drive from Yianni Karabalis which made its way through the traffic in the 79th minute to even the scores.

No longer able to sit back and defend its lead, FC upped the tempo, and Ivan Pavlak outran his opponent in a 65-metre dash along the sideline. He finished with a perfect cross to Spaleta who headed in his second goal to put the home side back in front in the 83rd minute.

''Obviously I'm disappointed,'' Ugrinic said.

''I thought all my guys played really well to get back into the match and I thought all the momentum was with us.

''We could have snatched a result. They took an opportunity and it was quality - they were clinical and at the end of the day we just need to take the opportunities that are presented to us.''

The game had its bruising moments, with free kicks to both sides after opponents were floored with big hits, leaving a few players with ''bumps and bruises''.

Pushing and shoving broke out among several players after FC goalkeeper Ben Klug floored an unprepared Olympic attacker when he braced for their inevitable collision, but it didn't escalate and the referee showed just one yellow card during the encounter.