Bonnyrigg came to Seymour Shaw Park sporting several old boys in Brad Boardman, Michael Robinson and Blake Powell, not forgetting former Sharks coach Brian Brown, with Ben Spruce (broken toe) in attendance along with Phil Zabaks who came along to support the side after his horrific injury two-weeks ago – in which we wish him a speedy recovery – as they took on the Sutherland Sharks on a mild evening in the Shire.
Sutherland opened the scoring after 9? minutes when Michael Katz crossed and Matt Bailey fired in on the volley as both teams were feeling each other out in the early exchanges in a hard but fair contest which was always on the cards in this table topping encounter.
The Sharks could have been two up on 18? minutes when Katz again crossed from the right for Sam Awad to head on goal, though Andrew Bazi was pleased to gather at the first attempt.
The service into Bonnyrigg striker Boardman was patchy as the visitors pushed on, although Jamie McMaster, in a Man of the Match performance, got into positions to cross on a couple of occasions and put the ball to the back stick yet there was no-one able to convert.
Sutherland settled the quickest and began to create opportunities at the other end that had the White Eagles defence stretched but they managed to hang on with a combination of stout defending and resilience with Niko Tsattalios next to show, though he scuffed his effort somewhat to make the save easy for Bazi.
Blake Powell had his shot blocked in a goalmouth scramble as Bonnyrigg hit on the break as they began to arrest the pressure they were under, and a deflected shot off Paul Kohler from Nathan Elasi wrong footed Nathan Denham in the Sharks goal as parity was restored with 39? minutes on the clock.
Jared Lum came close to giving his side the lead from 30-yards out only to see his shot flash wide of the post as the White Eagles finished the first-half the stronger.
It was a tough first 45? minutes with plenty of meaningful tackles, only to be expected, with plenty at stake and the make-up of the sides on the table as Sutherland were left to rue missed opportunities, but a second period that suggested plenty of action to come.
On the resumption Boardman slipped a delightful ball to Elasi who agonised as his shot slipped beyond the far post and out of the reach of Denham that would have been the perfect start for Bonnyrigg as they upped their first-half tempo.
Having started with a 4-3-3 formation Bonnyrigg coach Brian Brown changed the system to great effect when adopting the traditional 4-4-2, and when Boardman was adjudged to have been fouled by Chris Price inside the box after the Bonnyrigg striker appeared to have handled the ball, referee Kevin Peddie pointed the spot on 50? minutes, which Lum duly despatched in the 2? minutes later following some treatment that was given to Boardman inside the penalty-area.
Bonnyrigg went further ahead when Powell pounced on a ball that came back off the crossbar to make it 3-1 on the night to the visitors in a turnaround even they would not have predicted after containing the early onslaught.
Open they did as Boardman went striding through to plant a right-footed shot past Denham to make it 4-1 with more than half an hour left to play in a scintillating 15? minute display although McMaster could have added to the Sharks woes had his shot not taken a coat of paint off the upright moments later.
Sharks coach Robbie Stanton rang the changes and replaced Awad with Lachlan Cahill making way for Panni Nikas to take a more offensive position, in his last game for the club before heading off to China for trial this coming Tuesday, as they chased the game in what would ultimately prove beyond them on the night.
Daniel Severino replaced the injured Shane Webb in the 70? minute for Bonnyrigg, a change that almost produced an immediate response from the Sharks when Tsattalios forced Bazi into a save onto the crossbar and a follow up shot that was blocked in a crowded penalty area as the home side went for broke.
Another fortuitous strike that was either an exquisite chip over the stranded Bazi, or a cross, from Lachlan Cahill reduced the deficit to two, sparking the home side into a final flurry to salvage the match.
Nikas slid the ball to Chris Price who volleyed over from the edge of the box when Sutherland had a sniff of maybe producing the comeback of the NSW Premier League season but it would be a tough assignment and the same player put Bailey through and again the effort went narrowly wide of the mark.
It proved a mountain too high to climb in the final wash-up although take nothing away from Bonnyrigg who thoroughly deserved the three points on the night.
Robbie Stanton was disappointed not so much in the loss but the manner of it afterwards when saying:
?We had enough chances to win the game and in the first-half they didn?t have a true one yet we basically give away an own goal to level it up.
?It probably was a penalty but we didn?t honestly turn up for the game, got a bit soft and had too many players who only started to give it 100% after we were 4-1 down instead of stepping up at the crucial periods of the match and that is what disappoints me most, not the loss as that has been coming for the last few weeks.
?We fell down in the areas I suspected we would and I mentioned it to the players and said that it?s easy to lift your game when you?re down by three because there?s nothing to lose but they should have done that long before then.
?It?s given me the chance to now look at some of the guys and wield the axe and if that means playing with a few young kids then I will as you can disregard where we are on the table because this was a game where we needed to show some bottle and we didn?t do that and dropped our bundle and didn?t stand tall so I am bitterly disappointed by that.
?We?ve got a lot to do as far as I?m concerned and regardless of what the table says we will be working harder,? Stanton ended.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles coach Brian Brown has made a habit of coming back to Seymour Shaw Park and getting a result and added:
?I still have a fondness for the club and didn?t want to leave here at the time but it?s the third time I?ve been back and won all of the visits so far so I still like the pitch and makes playing a pleasure.
?The first-half was a bit of a non-event really for both teams and we gave them the softest goal and we came out as a 4-4-2 but our wide players didn?t get high or wide enough when we had possession so we spoke about that at the break and sorted it out and came out strong for the second period and as you say we came out and blew them away in a 20? minute spell.
?This is about the first week we?ve had a nearly full squad to select from with a strong bench and for me it was just a matter of getting three points and nothing to do with being back here or ending their unbeaten start to the season and although we?ve still got a few players out, when you look at our previous games we were scrimping and saving to field a side such were our injuries so it shows what we are capable of if.?
A minutes silence was impeccably observed for the tragic loss of Tyler Simpson during the week. We wish his family and friends our condolences at this sad time. R.I.P Tyler
In the Grade-20 division, Sutherland Sharks and Bonnyrigg White Eagles finished with a 2-1 win to the Sharks.
Sutherland Sharks 2 (Bailey 9?, Cahill 74?)
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 4 (Elasi 39?, Lum 52? (pen), Powell 54?, Boardman 59?)
Saturday 28th May, 2011
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Referee: Kevin Peddie
Assistant Referees: Nathan Wotton and Scott Edeling
Fourth Official: Matthew Cropper
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham; 2.George Souris (C), 6.Sam Awad (6.Lachlan Cahill 65?), 7.Jimmy Bakis (19.Huseyin Jasli 83?), 8.Chris Price, 10.Matt Bailey, 14.Nick Stavroulakis, 15.Michael Katz (4.Yianni Fragogianis 69?), 20.Paul Kohler, 23.Panni Nikas, 33.Nico Tsattalios
Substitutes Not Used: 12.Hayden Morton, 22.Jack Duncan
Yellow Cards: Price 24, Stavroulakis 66
Red Cards: Nil
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 1.Andrew Bazi; 16.David Vrankovic, 5.Chris Tadrosse, 11.Shane Webb (10.Daniel Severino 70?), 9.Brad Boardman (23.Tynan Diaz 80?), 17.Michael Robinson, 7.Nathan Elasi, 14.Blake Powell, 22.Jared Lum, 19.Jamie McMaster, (8.Alex Canak 89), 12.Takuya Murayama
Substitutes Not Used: 20.Tommy Hamilton, 4.Wade Oostendorp
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
3 ? Jamie McMaster (BWE)
2 ? Nick Stavroulakis (SS)
1 ? Brad Boardman (BWE)
-By Micky Brock