The number of clubs with their Cup dream alive continues to narrow down in the Northern Territory as the final two NorZone teams progressed to Round 6 of the Preliminary Rounds.
Darwin Olympic v Hellenic AC
A gem of a goal from midfielder Jason Stokes in extra time on Tuesday earned Darwin Olympic a place in the NorZone FFA Cup final in a month’s time.
Stokes’ winner in the third minute of extra time proved to be the difference between Olympic and Hellenic in a pulsating semi-final.
The arch rivals were tied at 2-2 at the end of 90 minutes but Stokes kept Olympic on track for a second successive spot in the draw for the round of 32 with just the Darwin and NT finals to go.
Olympic will meet the winner of Wednesday’s second semi-final between Shamrock Rovers and Port Darwin on June 8.
Olympic took the lead in the 26th minute when Kevin Menda Kabunga latched on to a through ball and slid the ball past the advancing Hellenic keeper Nick Boubaris.
At the other end Olympic keeper Kane Mcadam made two key saves in 10 seconds to deny Hellenic the equaliser.
Hellenic needed just four minutes of the second half to get back on level terms.
It was the dynamic midfielder Sulav Maskey who grabbed the equaliser, breaking through the Olympic defence and slotting the ball under Mcadam.
Just three minutes later and Hellenic were in front when Maskey’s clever pass found Theo Rossides who made no mistake. McAdam made a fine stop shortly after to deny Rossides a second.
The equaliser for Olympic came seven minutes from time when Michael Tsounias found space in the penalty area to calmly slot the ball home.
In the third minute of extra time, Jason Stokes gave Olympic the lead again when he fired in a right-foot shot in the bottom corner from just inside the penalty box.
A fine save from Mcadam from a Paddy Mcguire shot kept Olympic’s noses in front.
The two teams meet again in a re-arranged NorZone Premier League match on Tuesday (kick off 8pm).
Other league fixtures this week: Friday: Casuarina v Azzurri (7pm). Saturday: Port Darwin v Hellenic (5.15pm), Shamrock Rovers v Olympic (7.15pm).
Port Darwin FC v Shamrock Rovers
Darwin soccer has its own version of the fairytale that is English Premier League champions Leicester City after Shamrock Rovers reached the NorZone FFA Cup final.
Rovers will meet Darwin Olympic in the final on June 8 after disposing of Port Darwin 1-0 on Wednesday night.
Shamrock are in their first season in Darwin’s top flight, the NorZone Premier League, after being promoted in February to remove the bye.
It was a goal from striker John Drohan two minutes after half-time that sealed Shamrock’s semi-final success, meaning they are just two cup-ties away from the coveted round of 32 draw when A-League clubs makes their first appearances.
Dean Molloy went close after a fine run down the right as Shamrock tried to turn their early possession into goals.
Port hit back and Rovers keeper Richard Wilson saved well at the feet of Daxon Masiye after 17 minutes.
Shane Byrne failed to trouble Wilson in the 32nd minute with a left-foot shot that was well wide.
The semi-final’s only goal came two minutes after half-time when Drohan finished off a fine attack down the right by calmly slotting home.
Premier League fixtures this week: Friday: Casuarina v Azzurri (7pm). Saturday: Port Darwin v Hellenic (5.15pm), Shamrock Rovers v Olympic (7.15pm).
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