Sutherland Sharks’ grip on top spot of the Playstation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s competition was loosened after a shock loss to Wollongong Wolves in this week’s match of the round, with Blacktown City moving to within a point of the league leaders after their narrow win over Manly United.
Elsewhere, APIA Leichhardt beat Sydney Olympic 5-3 at Lambert Park to move up to fourth spot, while Sydney United 58’s 1-0 win over Parramatta FC sees them hold their place in third, now three points behind Sutherland.
Match of the Round
Sutherland Sharks FC 0-2 Wollongong Wolves FC, 4.30pm Saturday at Seymour Shaw
Wollongong Wolves snagged a shock 2-0 win over Sutherland Sharks at Seymour Shaw on Saturday afternoon; a result which signalled the first loss of 2017 for the side that leads the Playstation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s competition.
Stefan Dimoski converted an early penalty to put Sutherland on the back foot after just ten minutes, before doubling their lead midway through the second half when Jake Trew’s cross was turned into the host’s goal by one of their own players.
After a disjointed start, during which neither side could string together enough passes to threaten the other in attack, Wollongong won a corner kick.
The referee saw an infringement in the box as the ball was swung in, and pointed to the spot. Stefan Dimoski stepped up to take the penalty, and slotted the ball to the goalkeeper’s left with ease to open the scoring for the visitors.
Wollongong continued to pile pressure on the Sutherland defenders, and James Markovic nearly had the ball in the back of the Sutherland net a few minutes later, but saw his low drive fly just wide of the left upright.
The visitors sat back in defence, keeping Sutherland from breaking quickly, while moving the ball with purpose as they went forward. Jake Trew had a shot saved before Dimoski smacked an effort over the bar, as Wollongong pushed to take a 2-0 lead into halftime.
The visitors refused to lie down after the break and Sutherland had their keeper to thank for holding the score at 1-0 after Trew burst through on goal, but he took a loose touch at the crucial moment to allow the goalkeeper to smother the ball.
Sutherland had their chances too, albeit from slightly further out from goal as Wollongong’s backline held firm. Yet Wollongong doubled their lead in the 77th minute when Jake Trew cut the ball back across the box after an impressive run down the left flank, where it was turned into the goal by a Sutherland defender.
Harrison Quirk came as close to getting a goal for Sutherland as any of his teammates had all game when a corner kick dropped for him late in the match, but he drove his shot against the crossbar to leave Wollongong celebrating a clean sheet, as well as three points, at the end of the match.
Sutherland’s Nick Dimovski was in good spirits despite the result, pointing to results over the course of the season as evidence of a blip here. "I’m very proud of the boys’ performance – you look at the scoreline and it says 2-0, but how do you coach against a penalty and an own goal?
"We dominated the game – the boys gave 110%, as they have for the past eight weeks. If you’d said to me at the start of the season that we’d be top at this point I’m not sure I’d have believed you, but they’ve played so well. We’re looking forward to Sydney FC next week."
Wollongong Wolves’ coach Julio Miranda stressed the importance of the win for his team’s morale, after a difficult month for his side: "It wasn’t the greatest performance but given the way things have been going for us it’s all about the result. Team spirit has been a bit low in the last couple of weeks, so this is big for us.
"The main thing was to get the result and get a bit of confidence back. We haven’t been off the pace – we’ve lost our last four, but we haven’t been outclassed. I’ve got a good side, we knew we’d get results eventually."
Sutherland Sharks FC 0
Wollongong Wolves FC 2 (Dimoski 10′, OG 77′)
Saturday 29 April 2017, Seymour Shaw
Bonnyrigg White Eagles FC 2-2 Rockdale City Suns FC, 5pm at Bonnyrigg Sports Club
Bonnyrigg picked up their second result of the season after drawing 2-2 with Rockdale City Suns at Bonnyrigg Sports Club on Saturday afternoon, but remain three points adrift at the bottom of the ladder with just four points from the first eight rounds. Rockdale stay 10th after sharing the points with Bonnyrigg, and next week face a difficult opponent in second-placed Blacktown City as they look to make a push for the top six. Bonnyrigg, meanwhile, travel to WIN Stadium to take on Wollongong Wolves, fresh from a shock win over competition leaders Sutherland Sharks.
Blacktown City FC 1-0 Manly United FC, 5pm at Lilys Football Centre
Blacktown City moved to within a point of Sutherland Sharks at the top of the Playstation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s competition with a 1-0 win over Manly United at Lilys Football Centre on Saturday afternoon. Blacktown City’s sixth win of the season takes them two points clear of third-placed Sydney United 58, while Manly’s fourth loss of 2017 sees them drop a place to ninth. Manly’s winless streak stretches into its second month after their latest defeat, having failed to pick up a victory since the third round of fixtures. They return home to Cromer Park to face APIA Leichhardt in round 9, while Blacktown City take on Rockdale City Suns at Ilinden Sports Centre.
Sydney United 58 FC 1-0 Parramatta FC, 2pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 scraped a valuable win at home against Parramatta FC on Sunday afternoon; the 1-0 victory helping the hosts to close the gap between themselves and Sutherland Sharks to three points. United are now four matches unbeaten, while Parramatta’s second consecutive loss means they slip to 11th place, just three points clear of Bonnyrigg White Eagles. Sydney United will look to keep up the pressure on the two sides above them when they face Sydney Olympic next week, while Parramatta host Hakoah Sydney City East at Melita Stadium.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 5-3 Sydney Olympic FC, 2.30pm at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt and Sydney Olympic played out a high-scoring thriller at Lambert Park on Sunday afternoon, with APIA scoring five of the game’s eight goals to win 5-3. The result means APIA jump two places to fourth, while Sydney Olympic drop two to seventh at the end of round 8. Unbeaten in five matches, APIA will turn their attentions to their clash with Manly United at Cromer Park next weekend. Sydney Olympic, whose last win came in round 3 against Sydney FC, return home to Belmore Sports Ground to take on Sydney United 58.
Hakoah Sydney City East FC 0-0 Sydney FC, 3pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah Sydney City East and Sydney FC shared the points after a 0-0 draw at Hensley Athletic Field on Sunday afternoon, a result which took Hakoah into the top six places at the conclusion of the round. Hakoah sit level with Sydney Olympic on 11 points but have conceded two fewer goals than the team in seventh, and will look to continue their charge up the ladder when they take on Parramatta FC at Melita Stadium in round 9. Sydney FC, meanwhile, stay a point above Hakoah in fifth after the draw, and next week face the daunting prospect of a Sutherland side licking their wounds after their round 8 loss to Wollongong Wolves.
-Football NSW reporter Max Grieve