SUTHERLAND Sharks came from behind at the break to topple Sydney United 58 at home on a chilly evening at Seymour Shaw Park.
Sean O’Connell was the stand in skipper for the Sharks with Nathan Denham sidelined through injury and joining him on the sidelines were Perry Moustakas and Chris McStay with Andrew Depta deputising for Denham between the sticks.
Seongjin Park could possibly have done better when beating opposition skipper Ibrahim Haydar in a foot race but over stretched on the shot in the 5’ minute that was straight at Justin Pasfield who gathered easily. it was a long ball out of midfield that set up the attack looking to turn the United defence.
Robbie Mileski and Emmanuel Giannaros were making themselves busy down the flanks as United countered but the massed ranks of the Sharks defence handled the pressure well. Chris Triantis made up the triumvirate that was starting to cause the home side a few headaches.
It was an uncompromising opening quarter hour, as expected, with few clear cut chances of note but no lack of full bloodied commitment being shown with two teams desperate to take the points.
A semi-blocked shot from Jacob Tratt on the edge of the area had Pasfield scrambling at full stretch to his right to turn the ball around the post in the 23’ minute from the heavy deflection although the resulting corner amounted to little in a thoroughly absorbing game of football.
Panni Nikas, back on his old stomping ground, was pulling the strings in midfield but his old team mates, knowing his tricks, were quick to close him down and negate the threat he usually imposes.
Jordan Figon went down from an innocuous challenge by Haydar in the 26’ minute that caused a stoppage and plenty of concern as he was helped from the pitch with what appeared a shoulder injury. He was to be replaced by Steve Hayes, another playing against one of his former clubs in a like for like swap. It was cruel luck for the young striker who had been using his pace to great effect.
If anything it spurred the home side on with Hayes going out to the right wing and swapping Alex Jovovic to the left with the former soon creating problems as the visitors adjusted to emergence.
However it was to be United who hit the lead in the 38’ minute when a Nikas corner was clinically met by Mitch Stamatellis to head home off the underside of the bar leaving Depta stranded.
The half-time break revealed Figon came off as a precautionary measure after possibly suffering a concussion and complaining of dizziness after the centre circle tackle earlier.
On the resumption Sutherland started brightly once more but couldn’t find the killer pass until Jovovic rose at the back stick to powerfully head past Pasfield in the 52’ minute to restore parity and once more it was game on with everything to play for.
And they burst into the lead five minutes later when Park pulled the ball back inside the area for O’Connell to run onto and lash home with the left peg with an unstoppable shot as the home side completed the turn around.
Bai Antnoiou forced Pasfield into a magnificent save two minutes later, turning the ball around the post for a corner as the home side were running riot after the two quick goals unsettled the visitors.
The Sharks were to add a third in the 66’ minute when Tratt found himself on the end of a looping cross from the left and Pasfield found himself once again plucking the ball out of the net.
Nikas nearly pulled one back in the 80’ minute, forcing Depta into a reaction save down to his left. United were forcing themselves forward however no-one could blame the Sharks for trying to see the game out with their two goal cushion.
Stjepan Paric slipped Koen Bosma in on the left but the young United striker flashed at the ball and sent it wide of the upright in the 85’ minute that, had it found the net would have set up a grandstand finish. It didn’t find the target and Sutherland breathed a little easier one more.
“We were a little bit naive in the defensive side of our play and copped two goals from set pieces to the back stick and that is something we need to improve upon and we will," United coach Mark Rudan said.
"We were caught out of position for their second but overall I felt we kept our shape well throughout the game and that was lacking last week. It’s always tough to come here and those little moments can hurt you and it did tonight.
“I’m pleased we kept our heads up and created chances that could have put us back in the game but we didn’t take them and full credit to Sutherland they saw the game out and kept us at bay. It was an improvement on last week but we need to cut out the lapses of concentration if we are get back on the winning trail and we need to do that quickly.”
Sharks counterpart Steve O’Conner added: “Our set plays have been fantastic all year and Shaggy (Jacob Tratt) has been good in the air and scoring a few plus our defence did well and kept its shape and that was pleasing also under pressure and I’m glad we were able to see the game out as we’ve not been able to do that this season.
“The formation is coming together and everyone knows their position and is working within it and this result coupled to last weeks is showing signs of improvement.
“United were desperate to get back into the match and we stood up well which is something we’ve not been able to do but it’s all coming together now and we always suspected it would be the second half of the season before we would gel together and start playing as we want to so now we need to stand up and perform every week.”
Sutherland Sharks 3 (Jovovic 52, O’Connell 57, Tratt 66’)
Sydney United 58 FC 1 (Stamatellis 37’)
Saturday 6th June, 2015
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Referee: Michael Weiner
Assistant Referees: Nathan Wotton & Joon Park
Fourth Official: Timothy Danaskos
Sutherland Sharks: Depta, Tratt, McKenzie, Littler, Gordon, O’Connell (C), Park, Jovovic, Stergiou, Figon (Hayes 31), Antoniou (Lokolingoy 68)
Substitutes Not Used: Roberts, Mitwali, Caton
Sydney United 58: Pasfield, Camera, Sherlock, Stamatellis, Cardozo, Mileski (Bosma 70), Triantis (Paric 62), Haydar (C), Nikas, Makrys (Zuvela 62), Giannaros
Substitutes Not Used: Tomic, Cindric
Yellow Cards: Triantis 39, Cardozo 90+1
3 – Stergiou (Sutherland)
2 – O’Connell (Sutherland)
1 – Haydar (Sydney United 58 FC)
– by Micky Brock, PS4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 1 Reporter, at Seymour Shaw Park