A second half Leroy Jennings goal has helped lift Blacktown City snatch a hard fought 1-0 win against Sutherland Sharks in their National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s clash at Lily Homes Stadium on Sunday.
Jennings, a former Shark, made the most of a breakaway run from Joey Gibbs to tap in from close range at the far post to claim the match winner.
It was the sort of clinical finishing required in a match which at times struggled to excite with quality chances at a premium.
The win keeps Blacktown in the finals places while Sutherland suffer a frustrating defeat for the second straight week.
It was a slow start tot the contest but it was the Sharks with the first chance of the game 13 minutes in as Marc Warren glanced a header straight into the gloves of Blacktown shot stopper Tristan Prendergast.
A long range free-kick from Lachlan Everett was the next chance of the game in the 21st minute of play but in the end his commendable effort sailed just over the crossbar.
And, just prior to the break, Everett forced the ball along the ground from just outside the box but Prendergast was again ready and denied him with an outstretched hand.
There wasn’t much more to write home about in the first stanza of play and both sides went into the sheds without having troubled the scoreboard attendant.
In the second half it was Caoimhin Fowler for the visitors that tried his luck from distance, but once again Prendergast was ready to make up for lost ground and get back to save the day for Blacktown.
Blacktown’s first real chance of the game didn’t arrive until the 63rd minute of play.
Matt Lewis ran down the right and played a lovely ball into the centre for James Demetriou who fired towards goal, only to be thwarted by a Sharks defender standing on the line with the ball then deflecting back into the hands of keeper Anthony Bouzanis.
The stalemate was broken by the home side in the 74th minute.
Joey Gibbs sprinted away from all and sundry like a prized racehorse after the Sharks coughed up the ball before threading a majestic delivery across to Jennings who managed to sneak it home across the face of the goal past a wrong-footed Bouzanis.
It was somewhat of an injustice for the visitors who had clearly been the better side up until that point.
Sutherland were left to chase the game, but despite some fleeting moments neither side did too much more.
Juan-Carlos Romero tried to lob one into the Blacktown net in the 87th minute but his attempt was just wide of the mark in what was really the last real chance of the encounter.
After the game Blacktown City coach Mark Crittenden said that he was happy to have claimed all three points.
“Look, it wasn’t our best performance by a long way,” he said.
“I was disappointed at halftime in the way we moved the ball but we were still in the game.
“The second half became a bit of a battle and I guess that one goal was always going to decide the game and it was just a matter of who could have scored that goal.
“Last week we had ten chances in the first 20 minutes and today there was basically nothing but, at the end of the day, you take your three points and we move on to next weekend against Manly United which will be a tough one as well.”
Sutherland Sharks’ mentor Terry Palapanis was very disappointed to have come away from Seven Hills without a point.
“We had enough chances to win three matches but we were not clinical in that front third which was disappointing,” he said.
“They got us on the counter after a slight error and that’s their strength. We identified it during the week but there was a lapse in concentration and it was goal for them.
“It has been one of those seasons. Today, even when we didn’t have the ball, I felt that we were in control and it seemed only a matter of when [we would score].”
BLACKTOWN CITY: 1 (74’ Jennings)
SUTHERLAND SHARKS: 0
Sunday, 31st March 2019
Lily Homes Stadium, Seven Hills
Referee: Michael Weiner
Assistant Referees: Joon Park, Cameron Wright
BLACKTOWN CITY: 1.Tristan Prendergast, 4.Yianni Spyrakis, 5.Grant Lynch, 6.Matt Lewis, 7.Devante Clut (23.Daniel Bragg 66’), 8.Daniel Araujo (11.Mani Gonzalez 87’), 9.Joey Gibbs, 10.James Demetriou (15.Mason Versi 72’), 19.Adam Berry, 21.William Mutch, 22.Leroy Jennings.
Substitutes not used: 3.Daniel Collins, 20.Dylan Niski.
Yellow Cards: 35’ Spyrakis, 47’ Clut, 63’ Araujo
Red Cards: Nil
SUTHERLAND SHARKS: 1.Anthony Bouzanis, 3.Marc Warren (11.Jordan Morfitis 80’), 4.Patrick O’Shea, 6.Lachlan Everett (2.Quentin Cheng 78’), 7. Juan-Carlos Romero, 9.Jeremy Cox, 10.Raul Romero, 12.Blair Brown (15.Thomas Papa 83’), 16.Caoimhin Fowler, 19.Harry Sutherland, 21.Tarik Ercan.
Substitutes not used: 18.Mitchell Evans, 25.Brodie Clarkson.
Yellow Cards: 49’ Brown, 60’ Ercan
Red Card: Nil
3 – Caoimhin Fowler (SS)
2 – Leroy Jennings (BC)
1 – Lachlan Everett (SS)
-By National Premier Leagues NSW reporter Joe Russo