Parramatta FC has snapped its 14-match losing streak after battling to a 0-0 draw with Sutherland Sharks in a dour PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s contest at Melita Stadium on Saturday evening.
The stalemate is Parramatta’s first competition point gained since a 2-2 draw with competition frontrunners Blacktown City back in round six and although Marshall Soper’s outfit will take significant pride from the result they will perhaps regret not claiming all three after offering their best performance of the former Socceroos’ short reign so far.
Goal scoring opportunities were extremely limited for both sides on a night haunted by the infamous Melita Stadium bounce.
Despite some standout performers from the home side this was very much an encounter that underlined the shortcomings of the two most youthful squads in the competition.
The result mathematically confirms a bottom-placed finish for Parramatta FC while Sutherland Sharks move level on points with ninth-placed Bonnyrigg but trail the White Eagles on goal difference.
The competition cellar dwellers were vastly improved in last Saturday’s 1-0 defeat to Hakoah Sydney City East and offered further evidence of their growing resilience and organisation in a gritty opening forty-five minutes.
Soper’s men also came closest to breaking the deadlock all game when midfielder Johnny Kontos’ shot was blocked off the line by Taku Murayama after Yuya Samba’s short corner early on in the first half.
Sutherland were unable to match the intensity of Parramatta FC for much of the contest but carved out two good chances immediately before and after the interval.
Jeremy Cox forced Stefan Giglio into a firm parry at the near post on the cusp of half time before an acrobatic effort from Nathan Elasi was palmed away impressively by the Parramatta shot stopper.
Grant Lee’s side should have opened the scoring midway through the second half when a misjudged back pass from the otherwise flawless Hamish Galbraith put Cox in on goal but the Sharks speedster was unable to pick out a teammate.
Parramatta could sense a winning goal in the dying embers of the match with some promising forays forward but they were unable to convert these fleeting moments of promise into genuine opportunities.
Parramatta FC coach Marshall Soper praised the performance of his players after the match and targeted a victory in next week’s fixture against Bonnyrigg White Eagles.
“We have young boys who are putting their heart on the line every week and are playing to the best of their ability and we are slowly, slowly getting there,” he said.
“We are pretty close and perhaps should’ve made more of it tonight – but it was good to come up against my old mate Grant Lee tonight and we both agreed the draw was the right outcome.”
Sutherland Sharks manager Grant Lee was similarly candid about his team’s showing and lamented a frustrating performance.
“It’s a disappointing result but these are hard games to play in,” Lee said.
“The pitch does play a part, there’s no denying it, but not overly – in the old days when Marshall and myself were playing it was like this every week so you have to learn how to play in these conditions.
“Melita were playing for their lives tonight, they’re fighting for contracts.
“I think we were naïve tonight and that allowed them to stay in the contest.”
Sutherland will end an underwhelming season at home to semi-final hopefuls Sydney Olympic next Sunday afternoon.
Sutherland Sharks 0
Saturday 5th August 2017
Melita Stadium, Sefton
Parramatta FC: 11. Nikita Andricopoulos (9. George Panayi 59’), 7. Ryan Blakeley, 18. Adrian Cocaro, 12. Marcus Donatiello, 20. Hamish Galbraith, 1. Stefan Giglio, 8. Ahmad Hasanzadah, 10. Johnny Kontos, 15. Zeke Prisuda, 5. Yuya Samba, 6. Joshua Littlefield (19. Dylan Ellul 69’)
Substitutes Not Used: 4. Marcus Plataniotis, 40. Justin Veljovic
Yellow Cards: N/A
Red Cards: N/A
Sutherland Sharks: 32. Bradley Bartels, 12. Blair Brown, 13. Jeremy Cox (14. Patrick O’Shea 80’), 10. Joshua Da Silva, 11. Nathan Elasi, 17. Claudio Fabiano (25. Wade Oostendorp 11’), 6. Matthew Gordon (34. Jake Borremeo 80’), 9. Tomohiro Kajiyama, 4. Stephen Kayes, 21. Nikolas Loe, 3. Taku Murayama
Substitutes Not Used: 1. Nathan Denham, 15. Kevin Lopes
Yellow Cards: 10. Joshua Da Silva 64’, 11. Nathan Elasi 86’
Red Cards: N/A
-By PlayStation®4 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Jacob Windon