Sutherland Sharks dug deep at Lambert Park to come away with a 2-0 win over Sydney FC on Saturday night.
A goal either side of halftime enough to see the visitors through to a valuable three points.
The hosts might have largely controlled the match but Sutherland made their chances count where they had them
Ryoga Suyama and Leroy Jennings needed no second invitation when the opportunity to score presented itself as they netted in the 18th and 90th minute.
Sydney FC began quickly; Jeremy Cox burst down the wing and cut a pass across the face of goal for Cameron Devlin arriving on the six yard box, but Ryan Norval was quick to pounce on the ball at the midfielder’s feet.
Rob Stanton’s men held their shape well in possession but were stretched when Sutherland ran into space, and were punished when Suyama picked up the ball on the right and drifted across two players before unleashing a low shot across the goalkeeper which skipped in at the far post.
To their credit, Sydney FC refused to be rocked by the goal and picked up where they had left off. Sam McIllhatton hung a cross in for Jeremy Cox to flick a heavy header over the bar, before the striker went close again minutes later with a header that slid wide of the post.
Jerry Skodatis should have levelled when he surged through the middle to find the goal opening up in front of him, but he hesitated at the edge of the box and curled a weak shot wide.
Sutherland appeared content to soak up the pressure while keeping their edge in attack: Adrian Vranic took the ball at the top of the box and spun to send his volley crashing against the woodwork and away, a reminded of the threat the visitors posed. A casual flick from Cameron Devlin that swung over the keeper’s head for a goal kick would be as close as the Young Sky Blues came.
In a second half lacking all the fluidity of the first, it took nearly 15 minutes after the restart before either goalkeeper was tested.
A poor challenge from Patrick Flottmann upended Joshua Da Silva near the edge of the Sydney FC box, leaving Jacob Tratt to curl a free-kick just past the near post.
Luke Ivanovic and Jordan Swibel entered the fray to immediate impact, with Swibel unlucky not to reach a dangerous ball from Cox through the Sutherland penalty area. Ivanovic would have his chance a few minutes later when Sydney FC were awarded a free-kick in a promising position on the edge of the box, but he could only drill his shot into the trees behind the goal.
The hosts’ final chance for an equaliser fell to Skodatis, who collected the ball in a pocket of space on the left of the box and fired off a low shot which Norval gathered well.
In the final moments, and with Sydney FC stretched as they rolled forward, Leroy Jennings muscled his way through the backline and hit a clean shot under the advancing Duro Dragicevic to kill off any hope of an equaliser, and seal the game for Sutherland.
Sydney FC’s Robbie Stanton cut a frustrated figure throughout the match, but remained pleased with his team’s performance in spite of the result.
“It’s a game we should’ve won. We had the better chances in the first half. We lack conviction in the front third. We’re building our moments, but we lack the execution,” he said.
“I get frustrated, but we’re not being outplayed. We’re brave, and we know what we’re doing. We just need to cut out the silly errors which lead to goals like we saw tonight, but I can’t fault the boys too much to be honest. The performance was there.
Despite the win, Sutherland’s Grant Lee appeared relieved to just get through another game without losing a player to injury.
“We are what we are at the moment. We’ve had a couple of big injuries to key players which hurts us a little because we’re thin in numbers across the club, but today was good,” he said.
“We took our chances where we had to, we had some nice patches of possession play, but Sydney are far better at that. They’re training every day, they’re not kids any more, so it’s been nice to knock them over twice this year.”
Sydney FC 0
Sutherland Sharks FC 2 (Suyama 18’, Jennings 90)
Saturday June 2, 2018
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: K. Griffiths-Jones
Assistant Referees: A. Giev, R. Osborne
Fourth Official: C. Wright
Sydney FC: 6. AGAMEMNONOS Andreas (11. IVANOVIC Luke), 15. COX Jeremy, 2. CURTIS Brendan, 10. DEVLIN Cameron, 30. DRAGICEVIC Duro, 3. FLOTTMANN Patrick, 14. KING Joel, 4. MCGING Liam, 8. MCILLHATTON Sam, 16. MUTCH William (13. SWIBEL Jordan), 7. SKOTADIS Jerry
Substitutes not used: 1. EVANS Mitchell, 9. BLACHURA Daniel, 12. VAN DE SAAG Harry
Yellow cards: Flottmann 56’
Red cards: N/A
Sutherland Sharks FC: 10. DA SILVA Joshua (28. CHIA Noah), 6. EVERETT Lachlan, 20. HAYASHI Keisuke, 17. JENNINGS Leroy, 15. LITTLER Nicholas, 1. NORVAL Ryan, 16. SUYAMA Ryoga (18. ZAPATA Juan), 2. TRATT Jacob, 9. VRANIC Adrian (4. MORTON Hayden), 13. WATSON Robert, 12. BROWN Blair’
Substitutes not used: 11. TANOSKI Hristijan, 21. LOE Nick
Yellow cards: N/A
Red cards: N/A
-By National Premier Leagues Reporter Max Grieve