The action continued unabated for Grand Final day as Sydney United 58 took on Sutherland Sharks in the U20 final and what a match it turned out to be with
United were the first to show when Tariq Maia was fed by Chris Zuvela on the edge of the box however he got too much loft on the ball and it slipped over the bar in the first real menace of the match.
Adam Voloder fired over from 25-yards out for United as Sutherland struggled to get into their stride in the opening 10’ minutes with the Reds bringing the game to them but keeping their structured 4-4-2 well.
The control and passing of both was of an exceptional standard.
The Sharks’ Nick Sullivan needed to leave the field under the blood rule and returned sporting heavy bandaging to the head, and Cameron Devlin’s shirt, but United were unable to take advantage of their superior numbers during his momentary absence and the match remained scoreless.
Slowly but surely Sutherland were clawing their way back into the match with Anthony Krkovski able to break through the middle and perhaps should have squared the ball for Kody Maude on his right but took the shot on that was easily blocked in the 21’ minute.
Whilst earlier United were finding space to get in behind, as the half wore on they were reduced to shooting from distance and when Adrian Hadjisocratous send one wide of the upright in the 25’ minute the anguish was palpable on his face.
Marco Petrevski did need to be down sharp to his right and palm the ball out when Maia sent in a thunderous effort from the angle of the box in the 28’ minute the Sharks ‘keeper did well to react to but the scoring opportunities were becoming sparse as the tense drama unfolded.
It was on the break when Sutherland hit the lead as Bai Antoniou angled a shot across United ‘keeper John Dimitrakas for the ball to find the net off the inside of the post in the 32’ minute.
United’s response came when Cristian Gonzalez forced Petrovski to punch clear from a free-kick 3’ minutes later.
It was never going to be a blow-out score between these two sides and always a matter of who could make the most of the limited opportunities so it came somewhat of a surprise when Nick Sullivan slotted home in the 41’ minute to increase the Sharks lead before the break.
It came moments after captain Kristoher Vlismas was replaced by Daniel Sestan for the Reds who were readjusting their shape.
The break couldn’t come quickly enough for United who needed to hit the sheds and regroup after a promising start that saw them behind by two at the interval.
United rang the changes at the start of the second period bringing on Sebastian Malfara for Peter Liaskos to bolster midfield and slow the Sharks pace through the middle.
Again they took it to Sutherland but couldn’t find the breakthrough required as the match turned into a midfield struggle with the occasional outing down the flanks not really reaping the rewards for the endeavour.
Substitute Malfara was unlucky to see his curling effort tipped onto the angle of bar and post for United in the 69’ minute that deserved better but for the agility of Petrevski between the sticks.
It was a rare moment of light for the Reds as they were quickly back on their heels although Chris Zuvela thought himself unlucky when his shot from the edge of the box was deflected for a corner that came to nought when they hit on the counter once more.
Leo Malfara came on for Sutherland to add further chaos to the substitute listings with tired legs taking it’s toll.
Sutherland were left holding their heads when a succession of chances was blocked on the line or saved following Charles Lokolingoy sending a header against the post in the 76’ minute that would have surely killed off any chance of a fight back for United.
A few half-chances were produced in the remaining minutes but not many of noteworthy mention as the Sharks shut up shop and hit on the break in trusty tradition of what we have, we hold.
In the final analysis it was simply a case of Sutherland being too big, too strong for a gallant Sydney United 58 on the day.
Congratulations to the Sharks and commiserations to United 58.
Sydney United 58 0
Sutherland Sharks 2 (Bai Antoniou 32, Nick Sullivan 41
Sunday 14th September, 2014
Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park
Referee: Timothy Danaskos
Assistant Referees: Matthew Cassidy & Matthew Keen
Fourth Official: Jordan Lake
Sydney United 58: 1.John Dimitrakas, 2.Lachlan Roberts, 3.Krisopher Vlismas (13.Daniel Sestan 40), 4.Adrian Hadjisocratous, 5.Nathan Bertolissio, 6.Alexander Vlismas, 7.Adam Voloder (21.Nikolas Dimitriadis 61), 10.Tariq Maia, 16.Chris Zuvela, 23.Cristian Gonzalez (11.Richard Darko 60), 24.Peter Liaskos (14.Sebastian Malfara 46)
Substitutes not used: 12.Bradie Smith
Yellow Cards: Sebastian Malfara 80
Red Cards: Ni
Sutherland Sharks: 44.Marco Petrovski, 25.Bai Antoniou, 45.Dau Akol, 46.Conner Antoniou (51.David Formah 84), 47.Manoli Nicolaou (58.Rami Alassami 75), 48.Nathan Roberts (56.Leo Malfara 72), 50.Brendan Curtis, 53.James Combes, 55.Kody Maude, 57.Anthony Krkovski (49.Robert Watson 68), 59.Nick Sullivan (52.Charles Lokolingoy 64)
Substitutes not used:
Yellow Cards: Nick Sullivan 23, Nathan Roberts 50, Leo Malfara 81
Red Cards: Nil
-By Micky Brock, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Grade 18s Reporter, at Sydney United Sports Centre, Edensor Park