Both sides adopted the pressing game early on and played out from the back with good use of the flanks instead of the long ball approach and the frenetic opening pace allowing little time to dwell on the ball.
Marino Musumeci stole the ball from Paul Cotte to set-up a Rockdale attack down the right but an ever alert George Souris was able to snuff out the danger with a last ditch intervention.
Indeed, Rockdale were starting to make inroads, and when captain Peter Apolevski was caught narrowly offside in the 10? minute, it was a warning sign for the Sharks who went straight up the other end with Matt Bailey getting on the end of a Matt Gordon through ball that forced Suns goalkeeper Ryan Norval into the first save of the game.
With 22? minutes on the clock great work from Bailey and Panni Nikas set-up the former for a shot that squirmed from the grasp of Norval with the rebound gleefully put away by Hussein Salameh only for the Sharks forward to be ruled offside as Sutherland were starting to gain the ascendency.
At the other end, former Sharks striker Hussein Jasli misfired from right in front for the Suns as the action kept coming but the goal count remained zero.
Suns midfielder Sash Tirovski picked up the ball and went on a run through the middle that only ended when brought down by Souris on the edge of the box, though the resultant free-kick from Jasli was well held by Sharks goalkeeper Nathan Denham who was again called into action when tipping over a Tirovski effort moments later.
Jasli had no close support when he was put through with a ball over the top and fizzed a shot across the face from an acute angle with 37? minutes on the clock, as his pace and timing turned both Souris and Paul Cotte in defence for Sutherland that created another opportunity that was squandered.
Nikas was fouled by Tirovski in the 40? minute that led to the former taking a free-kick from 30-yards out that clipped off the wall and away for a corner but the short corner routine didn?t pay off as Rockdale cleared their lines although they were slowly but surely being pegged back into their own half.
Bailey chanced his arm from 30-yards out and Norval gathered comfortably once more and he was the busier ?shot-stopper until Denham needed to make a save from youngster Tom Cirjak.
The second period began as the first finished with midfielders Sash Tirovski (Suns) and Panni Nikas (Sharks) renewing their battle. Sutherland?s Nick Stavroulakis tigerishly mopped up the loose ball as the Suns? captain Peter Apolevski found more space down the right flank to whip in crosses.
Musumeci went down under a challenge from Souris that had the Suns faithful on their feet and moments later Nikas was cautioned for the Sharks, presumably, for simulation for going down in the box.
Tirovski went up the other end and warmed the hands of Denham with another stinging shot from the edge of the box the Sharks ?keeper was able to tip over in the 59? minute before a succession of niggly fouls interrupted the flow of the game although matters soon returned to the matter in hand and Jasli fired narrowly wide.
Sutherland took the lead though when Klim Gjorsevski had a shot saved and the rebound fell to Bailey who tucked it away in style.
The Suns responded when former Sharks striker Jasli scored against his former club 4? minutes later to restore parity, seconds after Sutherland skipper Souris was sent-off for a second bookable offence and the Sharks were reduced to ten-men.
Tirovski always looked to have time on the ball and completed his hat-trick of shots from the edge of the area that Denham in the Sharks net was forced to tip over but nothing came from the free-kick and the score remained at one-apiece.
Rockdale were now pushing forward to secure the win with their extra man advantage and should have taken the lead when Cirjak set-up Jasli in the six-yard area that he side-footed past the post.
Sadly for the Suns supporters they saw the ball cleared off the line, sail over the bar and chance after chance go begging as the Sutherland back four creaked but managed to stay strong.
It was an entertaining game that Rockdale will feel they should have put away for all the points after a succession of near misses in the final 10? minutes, particularly of the game that on another night would have seen the win and perhaps this was one that Sutherland got away with.
Suns coach Wally Savor said afterwards:
?We?re never happy with one point as we want all three and we need to change the way we think about games and not settle for a draw.
?Our final third options are not always the best and I believe it?s a mental thing so we need to change our approach to matches.
?Our style of football has improved greatly from last season and it?s entertaining for the fans but we need to start killing off teams when we can and I?m sure that will come.?
Sutherland Sharks coach Robbie Stanton was bitterly disappointed when stating:
?We need to take a good long hard look at ourselves because the performance tonight simply wasn?t good enough.
?I need our senior players to guide the youngsters and they didn?t do that tonight, they didn?t step up for the fight.
?Rockdale will feel, quite rightly, they were unlucky not to win after we went down to ten-men again but we created enough chances in the first-half to win the game and what disappoints me is that the senior players didn?t stand up because I cannot fault the commitment of the youngsters, they did a magnificent job so maybe I need to think about making a few changes??
On a slightly more jocular note he added:
?I suppose the only bright spot for the evening for me is that we have gained our first ?away? point for the season!?
Rockdale City Suns 1 (Hussein Jasli 68?)
Sutherland Sharks 1 (Matt Bailey 64?)
Saturday 21st April, 2012
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Referee: Andrew Best
Assistant Referees: Nathan Wotton and Lance Morton
Fourth Official: Adrian Arnott
Rockdale City Suns: 1.Ryan Norval; 2.Takuya Muruyama, 3.Giorgio Speranza, 6.Josh Lawson, 7.Peter Apolevski (C), 8.Paul Kohler (14.Daniel Slaveski 90?+1?), 11.Tom Cirjak, 12.Hussein Jasli (10.Alex Urosevski 87?), 17.Sash Tirovski, 19.Marino Musumeci (16.Anthony Perri 62?), 23.Askin Oygur
Substitutes Not Used: 20.Roberto Speranza, 24.Aaron Liddell
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham; 2.George Souris (C), 5.Paul Cotte, 6.Matthew Gordon, 8.Chris Price, 9.Hussein Salameh (12.Hayden Morton 67?), 10.Matt Bailey, 14.Nick Stavroulakis, 16.Klim Gjorsevski (11.Todd Halloran 77?), 18.Michael Stuart, 23.Panni Nikas,
Substitutes Not Used: 11.Todd Halloran, 29.Chris Naumoff, 22.Simon Jaeger, 34.Toufic Alameddine
Yellow Cards: Stavroulakis 6?, Souris 29?, Nikas 58?, Price 84?
Red Cards: Souris 66?
3 ? Sash Tirovski (RCS)
2 ? Huseyin Jasli (RCS)
1 ? Nick Stavroulakis (SS)
-By Micky Brock