Sutherland Sharks have gone back to back as Nick Dimovski’s side sealed consecutive championship wins on Sunday afternoon, prevailing 3-1 in a penalty shoot victory over Sydney FC.
With the frenetic tie finishing 2-2 after 90 minutes and extra time, Sharks fullback Richard Stewart dispatched the decisive spot kick to bring an enthralling contest at Leichhardt Oval to an end.
Stewart’s beautifully dispatched penalty was the pick of the bunch, and lands the Seymour Shaw outfit their third trophy win in two years.
That was an achievement that appeared increasingly unlikely a month ago. Injuries, suspensions and departures saw the Sharks stagger into the finals, and they were brutally put to the sword by the Sky Blues in last fortnight’s major semi-final.
Brought into the Sharks side late in the campaign to curtail the Sharks misfortune, it was only appropriate that the Sutherland youngster Stewart applied the finishing touch on a roller coaster end to the campaign for Dimovski’s side.
Sutherland’s dream occasion began in disaster earlier on. A horror mix up between Harry Sutherland and Sharks goalkeeper Nikolas Loe saw Sydney FC ace Marco Tilio prod the ball into an empty net.
But it didn’t take long for the Sharks to fire an emphatic reply as Lachlan Everett unleashed a trademark bullet from outside the area in at the near post.
Loe ensured the teams entered the interval in stalemate after fine stops from Tilio and Harry Van Der Saag, and the Sharks took the lead early in the second half when Harrison Quirk fired home after a scrap in the area.
Another defensive lapse saw Sydney equalise midway through the second when Tilio’s free kick from sidelines drifted past everyone, and a tiring Sutherland side – comprised almost entirely of U18s and eligible first graders – were hanging on by the full-time whistle.
Jordan Swibel came close to capitalising twice in a breathless extra time period. The Sydney striker saw an improvised backheel roll inches past the post and forced Loe into another strong save to the left as penalties approached.
Only teammate Hamish Lamberton has scored more than Swibel in this year’s U20 competition, but a rare day of misfiring for the Sydney forwards came to the fore from 12 yards.
Loe got a strong hand on Swibel’s opening strike to hand Sutherland an early shootout advantage, and the Sharks didn’t look back, despite a miss from Jennings. Everett and Quirk held their nerve before Stewart dispatched a textbook penalty into the left corner to complete the defence of Sutherland’s championship crown.
Sydney FC 2 (Tilio 7’, 70’)
Sutherland Sharks 2 (Everett 22’, Quirk 58’)
Sutherland Sharks win 3-1 on penalties
Sunday 9th September 2018
Leichhardt Oval, Leichhardt
Sydney FC: 24. Daniel Blachura, 1. Mitchell Evans (40. David Malishev 109’), 29. Thomas Fay, 18. Benjamin Koop (32. Evan Tsakos 83’), 27. Hamish Lamberton (9. Daniel Maskin 67’), 5. Patrick Scibilio, 31. Ryan Teague (13. Jordan Swibel 67’) 19. Guiseppe Tilio, 17. Marco Tilio, 22. Harry Van Der Saag (28. Paolo Bonanni 67’), 26. Ben Van Meurs
Substitutes not used:
Yellow cards: Everett 33’, Stewart 90’
Red cards: N/A
Sutherland Sharks: 12. Blair Brown (43. Charlie Jones 107’), 31. Gabriel Contigiani, 10. Joshua Da Silva, 6. Lachlan Everett, 17. Leroy Jennings, 21. Nikolas Loe, 23. Deren O’Brien (53. Kuot Maliet 60’, 47. Jacob Gjorsevski 90’), 33. Thomas Papa, 27. Harrison Quirk, 3. Richard Stewart, 26. Harry Sutherland
Substitutes not used: 42. Mario Aleksic, 48. Jaden Casella
Yellow cards: Everett 38’
Red cards: N/A
-By Jacob Windon