Sydney Olympic’s Thomas Whiteside has been hitting the headlines for all the right reasons this week.
Not only has the central defender been an ever-present force in Olympic’s emergence as NPL NSW Men’s frontrunners, he also became the talking point of the Australian football community this week after looping in a spectacular scorpion goal on Sunday.
The nation had been treated to a scorpion goal as recently as a fortnight ago when Newcastle Jets’ Riley McGree scored a strike of similar ilk over the head of Dean Bouzanis in their A-League Semi Final.
Whiteside produced his outlandish effort midway through the first half of their 5-1 victory over Wollongong Wolves.
The technically-gifted defender met Jinya An’s corner with a flicked heel to arc the ball over a stranded Justin Pasfield and into the net to send Belmore Sports Ground into delirium.
“It was very much right place, right time,” smiled Whiteside.
“The feeling of it going in was just like, ‘oh my gosh, really?’
“I couldn’t believe it, let alone anyone else on the park.
“It was my first goal in three years, so it was a bit of a surprise to me.
“I’ve seen quite a few good goals this season, which I guess would be pushing this one.
“I’m just hoping all my goals from now on are of that sort of calibre.”
The goal was one of several memorable strikes of the afternoon, with his teammates Radovan Pavicevic and Alejandro Sanchez Lopez netting top drawer efforts of their own, while Nick Montgomery’s 20-yard howitzer on the stroke of half time proved to be little more than a consolation for the Wolves.
Ultimately the result restored Olympic’s three-point lead over APIA Leichhardt Tigers who remain hot on their heels at the top of the ladder.
Abbas Saad’s side will seek to maintain the consistency that has served them well so far this campaign.
“The competition is very competitive,” said Whiteside.
“We know that we have to turn up every single game to play our best football, otherwise we won’t be competing for the title.
“The team is playing really well at the moment, everyone is gelling, everyone is coming together.
“Hopefully we can continue this form throughout the rest of the season and really push for the title.
“Abbas is motivating the boys to play a little bit more (than we have in recent seasons).
“We’re trying to play an attacking brand of football, which is also good for the spectators that come out to watch us.”
Next up for the league leaders is a tough trip to Edensor Park to take on a resurgent Sydney United 58.
The hosts have begun life after Jason Culina in positive fashion with four points from two matches and will be hungry to dent the title ambitions of their former NSL rivals when the sides meet on Saturday evening.
“It’s like every game in this league – it is always going to be tough,” said Whiteside.
“Sydney United 58 are always going to be tough opposition, they’ve got a good team, very well disciplined.
“We know we have to be at our very best to get three points and hopefully we can take that this weekend as it’s always our target.
“We want to win every game we possibly can, but at the same time we know we need to turn up on the day as well otherwise we’re going to be in for a battle.”
See if Sydney Olympic can maintain their excellent form when they meet Sydney United 58 this weekend. Kick off at Sydney United Sports Centre at 7.30pm this Saturday – the match will also be live streamed via the NPL NSW Facebook page.
– By Michael Shoolman