It was a weekend of missed opportunity in the PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20’s with Bonnyrigg White Eagles the main beneficiaries of draws at Ilinden Sports Centre and Lambert Park.
Meanwhile, the 2016 campaign is over for Hakoah Sydney City East who slumped to their fourth loss in a row, but Sydney Olympic kept their finals hopes alive on the South Coast with a priceless away victory.
Rockdale City Suns v Sutherland Sharks, Sunday 3.00pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
Ten-man Rockdale City Suns claimed a valuable point in their fight to avoid the wooden spoon and deterred the premiership tilt of second-placed Sutherland in the process after holding the Sharks to a 1-1 draw at Ilinden Sports Centre.
It looked as though Rockdale were on course for another defeat when Lukas Stergiou opened the scoring inside fifteen minutes, moments after Aaron Midon saw a brilliant glancing header disallowed for offside.
But the City Suns equalized before half-time through Aleksandar Lekoski and despite the late sending off of Zackary Nicolis will feel hard done by not to have claimed all three points after hitting the crossbar two times in a barrage of second half pressure.
With Sutherland sporting a noticeably youthful side in the Sunday afternoon sunshine, it was the bottom-placed hosts who started promisingly and forced the inexperienced Sharks rearguard on the back foot.
While it will likely go down as one of Rockdale’s most impressive performances of the season, the Ilinden side will still lament several luckless moments in the contest that have epitomized their frustrating campaign.
The first of these arrived when Sutherland broke the deadlock after a classy finish from Stergiou who buried Michael Kouta’s cutback with sublime ease just seconds after Midon’s header was ruled out by the linesman’s flag.
The hosts responded with impressive vigour though and nearly equalized in stunning fashion when Andre Gioiosa’s swerving volley was acrobatically parried by Sutherland stopper Nikolas Loe.
But there was nothing the Sharks gloveman could do about Rockdale’s equalizer after Lekoski offered another glimpse of his predatory instincts when capitalizing on a hesitant piece of defending from the Sutherland back four who allowed the Rockdale marksman to grab his fourth of the season.
Rockdale continued to surge forward in the second half and were denied by the crossbar twice in quick succession when Gioiosa’s free-kick rattled the woodwork from distance, while Lekoski hammered his set-piece off the same spot a minute later.
Stunningly, Gioiosa saw his effort from the resulting corner blocked off the line as Sutherland somehow emerged from a scintillating Rockdale spell unscathed.
Having remained in the contest despite lacking their usual potency Sutherland were unfortunate not to have found a winning goal late on after Rockdale were reduced to ten man through Nicolis’ second yellow card.
Jarrod Benham was denied at point-blank range by Rockdale custodian Harrison Devenish-Meares after connecting with a looping ball at the back post from Jeremy Cox, while Cox himself spurned a golden chance to win it but couldn’t readjust his body and sent a stooping header wide.
Crucial dropped points for Sutherland see them remain two points behind competition leaders Manly United, while Rockdale draw level on points with eleventh-placed Sydney United 58 ahead of the penultimate weekend of the regular season.
Rockdale City Suns 1 (Lekoski 35’)
Sutherland Sharks 1 (Stergiou 13’)
Sunday 31st July, 2016
Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns: 14 A. Lekoski, 20 S. Dubocanin, 25 A. Visnic, 26 Z. Nicolis, 27 D. Burgess, 28 Y. Petratos, 30 A. Midon, 31 J. Nicolaou, 32 J. Petkovski, 34 C. Hancock, 36 A. Gioiosa, 40 H. Devenish-Meares, 41 J. Mushaba, 43 K. Maude, 44 J. Trajkovski
Yellow Cards: 30 A. Midon 30’, 26 Z. Nicolis 35’
Red Cards: 26 Z. Nicolis 80’
Sutherland Sharks: 1 M. Figueira, 5 M. Da Silva Santos , 13 J. Cox, 14 P. O’Shea, 18 J. Benham(C), 20 M. Farmer, 21 N. Loe(GK), 25 D. Akol, 27 N. Roberts, 31 R. Watson, 33 T. Papa, 36 B. Brown, 38 J. Duncan, 39 R. Blakeley, 40 M. Kouta
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 4-1 Sydney United 58, 5.00pm at Bonnyrigg Sports Club
Bonnyrigg White Eagles moved within three points of competition leaders Manly United after cruising to a 4-1 victory at home to Sydney United 58.
Asmir Kadric’s hattrick paved the way for a regulation win for Stephen Sigmund’s side with youngster Luke Ivanovic completing the rout.
After a brief spell of late-season revival, Sydney United 58 slip back into eleventh and level on points with bottom-placed Rockdale, while Bonnyrigg will hope Manly United and Sutherland Sharks slip up in the next fortnight in order to stake their premiership claim.
Hakoah Sydney City East 0-1 Parramatta, 5.00pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Nicholas Chymiak’s first half goal consigned Hakoah Sydney City East to their fourth consecutive loss at Hensley Athletic Field on Saturday evening.
The striker’s eighth goal of the campaign all but ended the finals hopes of the league newcomers who will be resigned to a mid-table finish following their latest defeat in a poorly timed spell of form.
Parramatta move five points clear of Sydney United 58 and Rockdale City Suns on the bottom of the ladder.
Blacktown Spartans 3-3 Blacktown City, 1.00pm at Blacktown Football Park
Blacktown City retained their position in the top five after a thrilling derby ended 3-3 at Blacktown Football Park.
Stevan Dukic, Christopher Loucos and Michael Konestabo were all on the scoresheet for Spartans, while Jake Borromeo, George Panayi and George Firth helped Blacktown City remain on course for finals football with a fortnight of the competition remaining.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1-1 Manly United, 2.15pm at Lambert Park
Duncan Stewart’s 18th goal of the season held competition leaders Manly United to a 1-1 draw at Lambert Park.
The APIA marksman struck for George Sidis’ side in the second half to cancel out an earlier strike from Daniel Bragg as Manly missed out on the chance to capitalize on Sutherland’s draw with Rockdale.
The leaders hold their slender two-point advantage over the Sharks while APIA Leichhardt have all but cemented their position in the top five.
Wollongong Wolves 1-2 Sydney Olympic, 3.00pm at WIN Stadium
Sydney Olympic emerged victorious in the battle to prolong top five hopes after defeating Wollongong 2-1 at WIN Stadium.
The Belmore side raced to an unassailable 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Adam Voloder and Stephen Athanaseris before Wollongong notched a consolation goal through Nikola Djordevic.
The result brings both sides on 28 points, three points behind fifth-placed Blacktown City with two games remaining.
– By Jacob Windon