Mt Druitt Town Rangers has fought back to claim a valuable point in a 1-1 draw against Sutherland Sharks at Popondetta Park on Saturday night.
The Rangers again showed they are meant for this level, as the home side matched it with Sutherland equalising with a moment of magic from Fabricio Fernandez on the hour mark.
The hosts couldn’t find the vital second goal to avoid back-to-back draws.
For Sutherland Sharks, it was a missed opportunity to get themselves off the bottom of the ladder. Jeremy Cox drilled home the opener, as the visitors held sway for the first half but much like the home side, their finishing deserted them.
On a crisp night at Popondetta Park, both sides got into their work early. Jordan Morfitis burst into the box well for Sutherland Sharks, denied by the huge frame of Mount Druitt goalkeeper, Carlos Saliadarre.
Down the other end, Luke Clifford fired one straight at the Sharks keeper, Mitchell Evans. Much of the best play from the home side in the first 45 came through Clifford, Toufic Alameddine and Fabricio Fernandez.
The Sharks started to click into gear, Matteo Poljak had an effort touched over, quickly followed by Jeremy Cox’s low effort that was gobbled up Saliadarre, again making life hard for the opposition strikers.
Blake Thompson floated a well-directed free-kick that landed on top of the head of Solomon Monahan-Vaiika but the defender couldn’t crane his neck muscles enough to keep the ball underneath the bar.
Raul Beneit Romero had a pair of chances close to the break to put Sutherland Sharks ahead. His initial effort rebounded off Saliadarre before the follow up was swept out for a corner.
Right on the break, Fernandez and Alameddine whizzed efforts wide of the post for Mount Druitt Town Rangers. Fernandez bounced an effort wide of the left then Alameddine went high.
After the break, Raul Romero went close again but the breakthrough came in the 54th minute. A well bent ball into the area, found the foot of Cox, the striker tapped home, making it 1-nil to the Sharks.
On the hour mark, the Rangers had their response. Fernandez, who has quickly built a catalouge of well-taken goals this season, added another. The striker curled a free-kick around everyone, making it 1-1.
The goal sparked some belief for Mount Druitt.
Urged forward at every occasion, Alameddine started a counter that ended with Alex Boyadjian, the attacker sent his effort goalbound but it deflected for a corner.
Much of the chances in the late stages fell for the visitors.
Morfitis hit one high in the 71st followed a low effort from Poljak which was saved. Sharks looking to avoid back-to-back draws, as they pushed hard to move off the bottom.
Cox had another golden chance in the 84th when Morfitis clipped the ball into his path. Cox got his positioning wrong and scooped the ball into the fencing behind the goal, as the game drifted to the end.
Fernandez had a chance to play the hero again for Mount Druitt. He put them ahead with a delightful chip last weekend in their 3-3 draw, but this week, the effort shaved the post, going agonisingly wide as the teams shared the points.
Speaking afterwards Mount Druitt Town Rangers coach Aiden Desmond bemoaned his side’s lack of finishing again this week, as they need to turn these draws into victories to move up the ladder:
“Boys played well tonight. We created a lot of chances but need to start putting those chances away.
“There is no doubting the spirit in this group, but again, we need to put those away and get results.”
Sharks assistant Nefta Gonzalez had a similar tone when describing the draw as the Sharks have to turn these results against teams close to them on the ladder into victories to get off the bottom.
“We had good chances, played well in the entire game. Got the goal but we stopped doing our best and it became a scrappy game.
“We put a lot of hope in this fixture. It is very frustrating to not take three points and I think we did enough for all three.”
Mt Druitt Town Rangers 1 (Fernandez ‘61)
Sutherland Sharks 1 (Cox ‘54)
Saturday 4 May 2018
Popondetta Park, Emerton
Referee: T. Plasto
Assistant Referees: S. Ho & E.Kocbek
Fourth Official: M. Howarth
Mount Druitt Town Rangers: 1. SALIADARRE Carlos, 4. MONAHAN-VAIIKA Solomon, 5. MAMONE Jake, 6. THOMPSON Blake, 7. CLIFFORD Luke, 8. CLOWES Matthew, 9. BOYADJIAN Alex (2. SATOH ‘85), 10. FERNANDEZ Fabricio, 11. ALAMEDDINE Toufic (15. COSKERIE ‘92), 13. DARKOH Lord, 20 SINGH Alvin
Unused subs: 12. TRIMBLE Nick, 25. NIKOLOVSKI Matthew 26. LONG Christian
Yellow cards: nil
Red cards: nil
Sutherland Sharks: 3. WARREN Marc, 4. O’SHEA Patrick, 7. ROMERO Juan Carlos (32. LOPEZ ‘82), 8. POLJAK Mateo, 9. COX Jeremy, 10. BENEIT ROMERO Raul, 11. MORFITIS Jordan, 12. BROWN Blair (2. CHENG ‘45(15. PAPA ‘76)), 18. EVANS Mitchell, 19. SUTHERLAND Harry, 21. ERCAN Tarik
Unused subs: 25. CLARKSON Brodie, 26. ALEKSIK Mario
Yellow cards: Sutherland Brown Morfitis
Red cards: nil
3: Fabricio Fernandez (MDTR)
2: Jeremy Cox (SS)
1: Carlos Saliadarre (MDTR)
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s reporter Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)