CHRIS Price returned to Seymour Shaw Park to skipper his South Coast Wolves outfit against his former club Sutherland Sharks in a battle that ultimately saw the points shared after a 2-2 draw.
Aleks Jovovic sent over a curling cross for the home side inside the first minute that Thomas Manos was able to gather comfortably between the sticks as the Sharks showed intent from the off.
A quickly taken free-kick after a foul on Seongjin Park in the 8th minute saw Sean O’Connell scuttle down the right flank into the area, but his pull back zipped across the area with no Sharks player able to connect.
However, it was the visitors who took the lead in the 12th minute when Darcy Madden played a one-two with Chris Price before laying it back to Peter Simonoski on the edge of the box, who fired home sweetly past the hapless Nathan Denham.
It could have been a second for Wolves within 60-seconds when Sam Matthews sent a shot wide of the far post.
South Coast had the Sharks under the pump and Denham was called into action in the 17th minute to punch over the bar as the visitors applied yet more pressure.
They should have added a second in the 26th minute when Matthews was put in but a last ditch tackle by Jacob Tratt saved the day. It only postponed the inevitable though. A minute later, Jordan Murray doubled Wolves’ lead, tucking home the rebound from a Denham save.
And in the 30th minute the result should have been put beyond doubt when Murray again went through only to fire his cross shot wide of Denham’s right-hand upright with Sutherland wilting under the constant pressure.
The Sharks tried to respond when, in the 35th minute, Seongjin headed weakly towards goal.
Tratt then hit the bar from the edge of the box from a Matt Gordon lay off in the 38th minute, as Sutherland finally found some spirit. South Coast were keeping their shape well though, and pressing high up the pitch, teasing the Sharks into playing the ball over the top. Wolves’ pacey back line had everything under control.
Seongjin was denied by Manos and Tratt had a shot deflected wide as Sutherland did their best to pull one back before the break.
Sutherland needed something but it was Wolves who again took the game to their hosts at the start of the second half.
Simonoski sped through the line and fired one at Denham, who bravely stood tall to block the shot in the 54th minute. The rebound from Murray came perilously close to trickling in, but the young striker couldn’t connect cleanly.
Sean O’Connell blasted home to bring the home side back into the match in the 61st minute though, a goal which gave Sutherland life again.
Jovovic, now operating on the right wing, came into his element and another tantalising cross saw Seoingjin rise highest at the back stick but direct his header wide of the far post. It was Jovovic’s last involvement in the game as he was clattered to the ground under a heavy tackle and then replaced by Peter Crevani.
Sutherland then completed their when substitute Bai Antoniou, on for the injured Shane Webb, netted to restore parity in the 71st minute. The previously despondent crowd was no back on side, and the Sharks had a spring in their step.
Sutherland almost stole the lead when Crevani unleashed a shot from the edge of the area in the 84th minute that Manos palmed around the post at full stretch and then Seongjin tested the ‘keeper again seconds later, but Manos was equal to the task.
Simonoski really should have sealed the points for the visitors after Gordon slipped and he burst through on goal in stoppage time, only to fire well wide of the mark. A better option would have been the square the ball to Bradley Welch, but hindsight is a wonderful thing.
Sharks coach Steve O’Conner said: “We got caught cold a bit and I warned them in the changing room against complacency, and we shouldn’t have been as we lost last week, but from the outset we got caught in possession and the next thing you know we’re two nil down.
“That was poor but give the boys credit in the end we ran over the top of them and had the game gone another five minutes I feel we would have completed the comeback.
“In reality it was a great game, fantastic to watch and I just don’t know where our brains were early on. We were brain dead in fact but pleased with the fight back in the end.”
His opposite number Nahuel Arrarte was disappointed his side didn’t put to bed the game.
“We came out strong and were playing well but being 2-nil up is always a difficult scoreline and against a quality side like Sutherland on their home patch we always knew it was going to be hard," he said.
“We had enough chances to kill off the game and certainly could have at the death when Peter (Simonoski) fired wide but that’s football and I’m very happy with the boys and the way we try to play but we lost our way a little bit in the second-half.
“I said last week, even though we lost, we tried to play football and the signs are positive and we’ll get stronger as the season goes on but happy with the play, happy with a point and we look forward to the rest of the season starting next weekend.”
Sutherland Sharks 2 (O’Connell 61, Antoniou 71)
South Coast Wolves 2 (Simonoski 12, Murray 27)
Saturday March 28, 2015
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Referee: Adam Susz
Assistant Referees: Michael Kim and Joon Park
Fourth Official: Peter Liaros
Sutherland Sharks: Denham (C); Tratt, Webb (Antoniou 60), McKenzie, Gordon, O’Connell, Park, Jovovic (Crevani 69), Stergiou, Mitwali (Hayes 86), Farmer
Substitutes Not Used: McStay, Depta
Yellow Cards: Gordon 80
South Coast Wolves: Manos; Alsaad, Madden, Baldacchino, Mackenzie (Welch 83), Price (C), Stoic, Simonoski, O’Rourke, Matthews (Griffin, 79), Murray (Lavalle 74)
Substitutes Not Used: Hamilton, Codrea
Yellow Cards: Lavalle 80, Stojic 89
3 – Murray (SCW)
2 – Simonoski (SCW)
1 – Alsaad (SCW)
– By Micky Brock, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at Seymour Shaw Park