With Rockdale City still an outside chance to break into the top five before kick-off, Sutherland dented their aspirations in the first-half with goals to Jim Bakis and Neil Jablonski. Sam Awad pulled a goal back late in the match only for Ben Vidaic to seal the contest for the Sharks minutes later.
After a slow start to the match, the Sharks were first to build any attacking momentum and were rewarded with a penalty after 12? minutes when Pece Cvetanovski clipped the ankle of Ben Spruce as he burst into the box from the left wing.
Bakis stepped up to take the ensuing spot-kick, sending Ben McNamara the wrong way and firing the ball inside the left post to open the scoring.
The home-side could have doubled their advantage within a minute as Spruce?s inch-perfect cross was met by Jablonski, who sent his glancing header harmlessly wide.
Soon after, a short corner by the Sharks caused havoc in the Rockdale box, leading to shots from Ben Vidaic, Spruce, and Chris Price, with the latter flagged for offside after missing the target.
The Suns? first real chance came after 19? minutes when Almir Dedzic flicked on Joshua Lawson?s long throw. The ball fell to Marino Musumeci, whose volley was spectacularly saved by Nathan Denham before being pulled back by the assistant referee for offside.
Musumeci let another chance slip on the half hour, with his turn-and-shoot effort easily gathered by Denham.
Spruce split the Suns defence open with a penetrating through ball shortly after, finding Paul Kohler who turned past Akin Oygur and showed great composure to tenderly clip the ball into the top corner. The goal was however ruled out for offside despite intense celebrations on the pitch and in the stands.
Sutherland did however grab their second goal just before half-time when poor defending from Rockdale allowed the unmarked Neil Jablonski to run onto a long ball and tuck the ball inside the near post.
The Suns fought their way back into the match early in the second-half; however their efforts were limited to hopeful long-range shots, with only Dominic Hudap?s low 30-yard drive troubling Denham in the Sutherland goal.
Vidaic should have scored Sutherland?s third goal on 57? minutes when Jablonski?s pass found him unmarked in the box, however his finish lacked conviction and was saved by McNamara.
Sam Awad went within inches of pulling a goal back for Rockdale shortly after when he squeezed through the Sutherland defence and beat Denham with a shot that struck the inside of the post and bounced clear.
Rockdale were awarded a penalty of their own on the hour mark when Adem Kir?s cross struck the arm of George Souris. Denham stood tall in the Sharks? goal, sharply diving to his left to save Kir?s spot-kick much to the delight of the home fans.
Denham was almost embarrassed shortly after when Awad beat him to a cross and forced his header goalwards, however Souris saved the day by clearing off the line.
Awad finally bagged his goal and set the tone for an interesting end to the match when he again beat Denham to the ball to head home Kir?s cross on 81? minutes.
Any hopes of a comeback were dismissed shortly after when Vidaic beat McNamara in the air outside the 18-yard box to head the ball into the back of the net and seal all 3 points for the Sharks.
Sharks coach Robert Stanton was happy with both the win and the overall performance of his squad, despite missing out on the finals by one spot:
?I just wanted to finish on a good note with a win at home for our last game and we did that,? said Stanton.
?We set ourselves high standards and expect to play in the finals.
?We missed out by one spot but in terms of the players? effort and commitment it?s been sensational.
?I thought that when we were at our lowest point we responded and got ourselves back into contention for the playoffs, and in the end we?ve just missed out but I think it was a reasonable season,? Stanton added.
Rockdale?s goal scorer Sam Awad was also happy with the performance of his team-mates, finishing seventh after starting the season as newcomers:
?We had to give more than 100% to get to where we are today,? said Awad.
?The boys have got better capability and who knows if we can go one step better next year,? Awad concluded.
Sutherland Sharks 3 (Jim Bakis 13? (pen), Neil Jablonski 45?, Ben Vidaic 83?)
Rockdale City Suns 1 (Sam Awad 81?)
Sunday, August 1st, 2010
Seymour Shaw, Miranda
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Matthew Sampson and Mike Robinson
Fourth Official: Nicholas Tragoustis
Crowd: 500 Approx.
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham; 2.George Souris (C), 4.Michael Robinson, 6.Chris Price, 7.Jim Bakis (16.James Lawrence 84?), 9.Ben Vidaic (33.Brendan McLean 84?), 11.Ben Spruce, 12.Neil Jablonski, 14.Nick Stavroulakis, 20.Paul Kohler, 22.Yianni Fregogiannis
Substitutes Not Used: 30.Misha Hardwick, 31.Hussein Tasci, 24.Jack Duncan
Yellow Cards: Jim Bakis 73?, Yianni Fregogiannis 82?
Red Cards: Nil
Rockdale City Suns: 1.Ben McNamara; 2.Paul Dee (C), 3.Almir Dizdaric (18.Robert Di Meglio 64?), 6.Josh Lawson, 8.Dominic Hudap, 11.Adem Kir, 13.Baturay Akin (21.Sam Awad 36?), 16.Steven Bozinovski (10.Stefan Donevski 75?), 17.Pece Cvetanovski, 19.Marino Musumeci, 23.Akin Oygur
Substitutes Not Used: 5.Jeffrey Issa, 40.James Cain
Yellow Cards: Baturay Akin 15?, Stefan Donevski 92?
Red Cards: Nil
-By Michael Shoolman