James Andrew came back to haunt his former club scoring a brace to end Sutherland Sharks incredible ten game unbeaten streak as Marconi Stallions claimed a 3-0 win at Seymour Shaw Park on Saturday.
Andrew was a headache all night for the Sharks defence and made the most of his return to the Shire to lead his Stallions team to a much needed win following on from its midweek TAFE NSW Waratah Cup Semi-Final victory over Manly United.
The pacy winger scored on either side of the interval to give the visitors the upper hand before veteran striker Marko Jesic wrapped up the win in the 62nd minute.
It was an incredible return to form for Marconi with the three points vital in keeping their fading finals hopes alive.
Defence was something the Sharks really worked hard on in the second half of the season but a key omission from the squad was talented central defender Liam McGing with reports circulating that he is closing in on an A-League deal with the Wellington Phoenix.
It was a cat and mouse affair in the middle of the pitch during the early stages, particularly with both missing key personnel for what was always going to be a tight contest in the run-in for a possible spot in the top five.
Jordan Morfitis claimed the first shot in anger after a neat exchange of passes with Quentin Cheng however he curled the effort the wrong side of the upright.
Raul Romero won the ball inside his own half in the 19th minute and proceeded on a delightful dribble into the area before testing Nenad Vekic between the Stallions’ sticks.
Mark Warren, leading by example for Sutherland, found himself in the book for an off the ball incident involving Andrew midway through the half. The home side could ill afford to lose their skipper who would need to watch his step for the majority of the game.
It was a full blooded encounter with Liam Youlley was cautioned for a rash challenge in the centre circle such was the desperation of the sides.
After 34 minutes Marko Jesic fired an effort over the bar with a wickedly bending free-kick but Sharks keeper Anthony Bouzanis had it covered.
As the game seemed headed into the break without a goal, Andrew punished Sutherland with his rapid speed to score after getting in behind the defence.
The home side failed to learn their lesson during the interval with Andrew claiming his second only six minutes after the restart.
Vella won the ball and scampered through the Sharks’ defence with a clever dip of the shoulder to tee up Andrew and complete a well-orchestrated move to make it 2-0
With the home side forced into pushing forward, the pacey attack of Marconi would remain a constant threat.
Two became three when Stallions captain Jesic reacted sharply to a Mateo Poljak error and curled it around the stranded Bouzanis to effectively settle the tie. It was his tenth goal of the NPL NSW Men’s campaign.
Cox came close to reducing the deficit when striding through to meet a Warren shot-cum-cross in the 78th minute but it wasn’t to be Sutherland’s night
“Collectively as a unit we simply were not good enough tonight,” Sutherland coach Terry Palapanis said.
“Errors again cost us so it’s back to square one once more.
“They dominated us tonight and that cannot be denied.
“There isn’t too much more I can say to be honest, we were taught a lesson out there tonight but we’ll recover and move on to the next match.”
Marconi boss Peter Tsekenis felt his players stepped up with their season on the line.
“We needed to win tonight to keep our top five tilt alive but we are still in all competitions so it a good season so far,” he said.
“it is hard with midweek games to contend with and back up so we sat back a bit to conserve our energy and looked to hit on the break and it worked well tonight.
“We gave away some cheap possession in the first-half but we tightened up after the break and got our just desserts.”
The Sharks will have the weekend off while the Stallions prepare for the TAFE NSW Waratah Cup Final when they meet rivals Sydney United 58 on Sunday 14th of July at Lily Homes Stadium with kick off set for 2:30pm.
Sutherland Sharks 0
Marconi Stallions 3 (Andrew 45+1’, 52’, Jesic 61’)
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Saturday 6th July 2019
Referee: Sam Grasso
Asst. Refs: Pat Teleki & Matt Staples
4th Official: Nathan McCorist
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Anthony Bouzanis, 2.Quentin Cheng, 3.Marc Warren, 4.Patrick O’Shea, 7.Bai Antoniou (12.Blair Brown 62’), 8.Mateo Poljak (25.Brodie Clarkson 85’), 9.Jeremy Cox, 10.Raul Beneit Romero, 11.Jordan Morfitis, 21.Tarik Ercan (32.Alexander Lopez 62’), 22.Jerry Skotadis
Substitutes not used: 18.Mitchell Evans, 19.Harry Sutherland
Yellow Cards: Warren 24’, Ercan 52’, Brown 90+2
Marconi Stallions: 1.Nenad Vekic, 2.Nathan Millgate, 3.Giorgio Speranza, 4.Roberto Speranza, 8.Connor Evans (7.Sean O’Connell 78’), 10.Marko Jesic (40.Damian Tsekenis 88’), 12.James Andrew, 13.Yianni Nicolaou, 16.Liam Youlley (20.Richie Cardozo 85’), 23.Brendon Vella, 28.Martin Fernandez
Substitutes not used: , 14.Peter Pelekanos, 17.Kristian Sekutkovski
Yellow Cards: Youlley 30’, Nicolaou 74’
Player Ratings have now been hidden due to the second half of the season commencing.
By National Premier Leagues NSW Reporter Micky Brock