A WARM autumn evening saw Sutherland Sharks host Sydney United 58 at Seymour Shaw Park, and despite being reduced to ten-men midway through the second half, the hosts ran out 4-0 winners.
Adamos Pierettis was the central piece to the narrative, scoring twice in the first half before receiving two yellows in the second to earn his marching orders.
Sutherland had the first half-chance when an early free-kick taken by Panni Nikas found its way to Nathan Elasi, but his snatched shot skewed wide of the intended target.
Alec Urosevski was fed by Jacob Esposito down the right and a tricky run saw the talented young United 58 striker cut inside and pick out Matthew Bilic, who was closed down quickly by the Sharks defence. Bilic eventually shot narrowly wide of Nathan Denham’s upright as the visitors cut open Sutherland on the break in the 5’ minute.
It was end to end football in the opening ten minutes as with firstly Sutherland created the openings and then the Reds mounting sustained pressure on their hosts.
Denham was so nearly caught out by Urosevski in the 11’ minute as the speedy striker scampered speedily toward the Sharks’ ‘keeper but the wily shot-stopper got away with clearing the ball in the nick of time.
The passing was intricate by both, maybe too intricate at times in attempting the thread the eye of a needle but it was pulsating stuff.
However it was the home side who drew first blood in the 19’ minute when Pierettis sent a thunderbolt beyond the despairing dive of Diego Barcena after good build up work from the Sharks.
Elasi was put through on the left by Nick Olsen as the Sharks smelt blood however Barcena stuck out his right peg and guided the ball around the post in the 28’ minute when heading in the opposite direction. A corner it should have been but a goal-kick was awarded as the Reds got away with one.
After a tough midweek Waratah Cup battle against Olympic at Belmore on Wednesday night, the visitors looked a little jaded as the half-hour mark approached yet they battled the fatigue in stoic fashion.
Olsen couldn’t get out of the way of an Elasi shot when in an offside position in the 42’ minute and although the ball found the back of the net the goal was rightly disallowed.
The lead was increased less than a minute later when the Sharks went two up with another blistering shot from Pierettis that beat Barcena with speed and placement.
It wasn’t against the run of play but to concede just before the break was a hard pill to swallow for the Reds, and it would have given coach Mark Rudan plenty to talk about during the interval.
He rang the changes immediately after the break replacing Stjepan Paric and introducing Kaz Patafta in an attempt to take something from the match.
The Reds, acutely aware they needed to take chances, set about making amends knowing they could leave themselves vulnerable at the back but needing to ride their luck against a swaggering Sharks outfit.
Sutherland were in no mood to let things slip easily though and pressed high up the pitch to keep United 58 pinned back in their own half.
The Reds were able to mount several attacks however the stout defence and final ball option were proving a stumbling block in the race for parity, youthful naivety in the final third proving their own undoing.
In trying to force the game they pushed their luck too far and went further behind when Elasi netted the Sharks third in the 62’ minute to inflict yet more damage on the visitors.
It would have been worse had Barcena not been quick on his feet to deny a Perry Moustakas header in the six-yard box in the 68’ minute.
Richard Darko, another dazzling young prospect, replaced Esposito with caution now thrown to the wind by the Reds. It almost paid dividends when Luka Glavas was found unmarked in the box but his blushes were spared when flagged offside after a poor shot.
Double goal-scorer Pierettis was shown a second yellow card after an altercation on the sideline to leave Sutherland playing a man down for the remaining 15’ minutes of the match.
With a three goal cushion it was not to prove costly in the final wash up.
Anthony Tomelic warmed the hands of Denham in the 79’ minute with a shot from distance through a crowd of players the Sharks ‘keeper saw late but showed terrific reflexes to thwart.
Mitchell Speer followed that closely with a header that flashed wide from a teasing cross by substitute Tom Mallet, as the Reds threw everything forward in a final flurry.
However it was to be Sutherland who had the final word when Nikas was found unmarked in the box by Elasi in the 88’ minute to send the 10-man Sharks further ahead with his last touch of the game, being he was replaced by Lukas Stergiou.
To suggest Sutherland didn’t deserve their win would be foolish but nobody predicted such a scoreline in their favour.
It was cruel for Sydney United 58 as the dejected coach Mark Rudan commented after the whistle.
“Obviously the three games we’ve played in six days was tough for us and against a side like Sutherland who are a good footballing side, very quick, very sharp in their movement and on their own turf it was always going to be a tough one for us.
“They had more of the ball in the first-half and if it hadn’t been for the two long range shots, and you have to give credit to Pierettis because he has scored two fantastic goals, they never really got in behind us.
"Our ‘keeper never had to make a save but like I said although the score line wasn’t the best I felt we were very disciplined and kept our shape.
“In the second-half I changed things around a little bit and as normal we always go for the win and this time it backfired but you have to give Sutherland a lot of credit because you could see how fresh they were and we obviously were not.
“The last six days has taken it’s toll but the boys gave everything and in that respect I can’t really complain.
“I’m not saying it’s not a tough one to take as it is in terms of the score but it’s now a matter of re-grouping, freshening up the boys and making sure we come home really strongly because it’s only halfway through what has been a disruptive season for us.
“We’ve lost players in pre-season which we haven’t really been able to replace and have used a lot of our Grade 20s team as we look to the future and it’s one that you have to learn from
“Simple as that.”
Sharks coach Robbie Stanton was pleased but cautious when adding: “I think we built a lot pressure and apart from the first 10-15 minutes when were finding each other out, I had a feeling what they might do as I’ve watched them a couple of times in the last few weeks so we knew we had to build that pressure, we knew what we had to do and executed it very well.
“The result came off the back of the plan we came up with and the two goals, something Adamos (Pierettis) is very capable of and he pulled the trigger he just hits it so hard and that was the catalyst for us to go on with it.
“It was a good performance, a good result and I’m quite happy with it.”
“It wasn’t a fluke, we had a plan and executed it well and obviously for us it was a good result and we have been on the other end of a couple this year.
“Had we been offered a 1-nil win before the start we would have taken it because against Sydney United you are always in for a tough battle but they’ve had a rough run this year and it hasn’t fallen their way but it happens to everyone at some stage when you struggle but play well.
“You have to take into account they had a midweek game and we know how hard it can be to back-up from one as we showed against Rockdale City Suns here after our Waratah Cup match against the South Coast Wolves and how it affects you and we were feeling the pinch.
“It catches up with you but we know we still have some work to do on certain areas but again, I’m happy with result.”
Sutherland Sharks 4 (Adamos Pierettis 19’, 43’, Nathan Elasi 62′, Panni Nikas 88′)
Sydney United 58 0
Saturday May 24th, 2014
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Referee: Kevin Peddie
Assistant Referees: Andrej Giev and Nicholas Backo
Fourth Official: Adam Vainauskas
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham; 2.Jacob Tratt, 3.Adamos Pierettis, 5.Nick Littler, 6.Matt Gordon, 9.Nathan Elasi, 10.Jamie McMaster (16.Ethan Galbraith 74), 14.Nick Stavroulakis (C), 15.Perry Moustakas (29.Mitchell Farmer 84), 19.Nick Olsen, 23.Panni Nikas (8.Lukas Stergiou 88)
Substitutes Not Used: 12.Jordan Figon, 22.Andrew Depta
Yellow Cards: Adamos Pierettis 60′
Red Cards: Adamos Pierettis 75′
Sydney United 58: 1.Diego Barcena; 3.Jacob Esposito (8.Richard Darko 69), 4.Nathan Sherlock, 7.Alex Urosevski, 11.Luka Glavas (C), 14.Mitchell Speer, 15.Anthony Tomelic, 16.Stjepan Paric (23.Kaz Patafta 46), 17.Theo Kofinas, 19.Matthew Bilic (18.Tom Mallet 65), 20.Ibrahim Haydar
Substitutes Not Used: 5.Tomislav Borovickic, 29.Anthony Costa
Yellow Cards: Mitchell Speer 60′
Red cards: Nil
3 – Adamos Pierettis (SS)
2 – Nathan Elasi (SS)
1 – Alec Urosevski (SU58)
– By Micky Brock, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Reporter, at Seymour Shaw Park