Rockdale City Suns’ late season slump continued after Paul Reid’s side nervously battled their way to a 0-0 stalemate with Sutherland Sharks at Ilinden Sports Centre during their PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s clash on Sunday.
After announcing themselves as serious premiership contenders midway through the campaign, Rockdale now look consigned to miss a home final following what was the side’s fifth match without a win.
And it was a miserably tame performance from the home side who held plenty of possession but lacked any invention or drive to puncture a well-marshalled and canny Sutherland side who will be disappointed to leave Ilinden Sports Centre with a point after comfortably controlling the encounter.
Although the Sharks preserved a mathematical chance at finals football, Carlos Villazon’s late-season revival looks to have run out of steam with Sutherland needing two wins and results to go their way in the final fortnight of action.
The spritely Sharks will at least take solace in the form and cohesion they have struck in the past month and those were qualities on show again here as Villazon’s street-wise outfit outfought and outran their counterparts.
Despite a conservative encounter offering very few standout moments of quality, it was another impressive display from Sutherland who should have opened the scoring inside the first ten minutes when Rockdale gloveman Andrew Bazi’s clearance fell to Joshua Da Silva who curled his effort over the bar with the keeper stranded.
James Andrew nearly broke the deadlock with a glancing header minutes later after a fine cross from the energetic Jack Press, while Rockdale forward Dylan McAllister forced Sutherland shot stopper into a comfortable save at the near post.
The hosts suffered a big blow when the Rockdale marksman withdrew through injury shortly after which left a noticeable absence up front and allowed Sutherland to scurry forward in menacing fashion following each turnover.
While neither side was able to truly worry the opposition goalkeeper throughout the match, it was the visitors who looked considerably more threatening. Rockdale continued to canter through the second half with little incident while inviting Sutherland to spring forward more dangerously.
It took a crucial game-saving intervention from Rockdale defender Daniel Petkovski to stop Da Silva’s fiercely struck effort from point blank range as Sutherland edged closer in the final ten minutes with Bazi making a good save low at the near post to deny Chris McStay the match winner in injury time.
“We controlled the game very well tonight,” said Villazon after the match.
“It’s difficult when a new manager comes to a club but the players are understanding my philosophy more and more each week.”
The Chilean will hope Sutherland continue their admirable end of season run when the Sharks host Blacktown Spartans at Seymour Shaw in next week’s penultimate round, while Rockdale’s position in the top five could come under threat when Paul Reid’s side travel to Sydney Olympic next Sunday.
Rockdale City Suns 0
Sutherland Sharks 0
Sunday 31st July, 2016
Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns: 17. Toufic Alameddine, 22. Andrew Bazi, 8. Aleksandar Canak, 9. Dylan Macallister (11. Hristijan Tanoski 31’), 10. Peter Makrillos (12. Idriss El Hafiane 79’), 4. Trent Mcclenahan, 2. Daniel Petkovski, 15. Nicholas Petrillo, 5. Paul Reid, 6. Blake Ricciuto, 19. Patrick Savor
Substitutes Not Used: 1. David Bradasevic, 3. Stephen Hesketh, 16. Isaac Savor,
Yellow Cards: 11. Hristijan Tanoski 58’
Red Cards: N/A
Sutherland Sharks: 17. James Andrew (19. Callum Fitzpatrick 70’), 10. Joshua Da Silva, 1. Nathan Denham, 6. Matthew Gordon, 35. Kajiyama Tomihiro, 4. Stephen Kayes, 5. Nicholas Littler, 8. Christopher McStay, 15. Perry Moustakas, 3. Takuya Murayama, 7. Jack Press (14. Patrick O’Shea 87’)
Substitutes Not Used: 16. Laureano Gomez Castro, 21. Nikolas Loe, 12. Lukas Stergiou,
Yellow Cards: 6. Matthew Gordon 62’
Red Cards: N/A
-by PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Jacob Windon