A missed penalty in the dying stages has cost Sutherland Sharks as they were forced to settle for a 1-1 draw against Marconi Stallions at Seymour Shaw Park on Saturday.
Striker Jeremey Cox had the chance to win it for the Sharks from the penalty spot in the 83rd minute but was denied by a brilliant save from Stallions red hot shot-stopper Nenad Vekic.
It was another frustrating draw for Sutherland who took the lead in the first half thanks to a clinical finish from Gabriel Contigiani.
For the Stallions, it was a hard-earned point with a Marko Jesic penalty early in the second half securing the draw.
It was an open start to the match with both sides beginning the contest at high intensity.
The first chance of the game fell to former Stallion James Andrew but the pacy Sharks winger failed to hit the target.
An ambitious effort from Lindsay inside his own half in the 24th minute nearly caught Vekic off his line but the hopeful shot sailed wide.
Sutherland began to lift midway through the half and it nearly paid dividends when Andrew snuck behind the defence in the 26th minute. However, he was unable to hit the target with his shot across goal.
Chris McStay was dominating in the midfield for the Sharks and he would’ve been disappointed when Andrew failed to head home his delightful curling ball into the penalty area which found the striker unmarked and in full flight.
Vekic made a stunning save to his left to deny Contigiani who connected with a curling Lindsay free-kick at the far post in the 33rd minute
It would be that same formula that would lead to the opening goal of the match as Contigiani found the back of the net after another curling Lindsay free-kick in the 35th minute.
Marconi was in desperate need of a spark but a stout Sharks defence made sure opportunities were limited for the visitors.
With the final seconds of the half ticking down, the Stallions nearly equalised as an unmarked header from nine yards out cannoned against the crossbar.
It was a nervous end to the half for Sutherland who would’ve been delighted to take their 1-0 lead into the break.
Marconi raced out of the blocks in the second stanza and it didn’t take long for them to test the goalkeeper when a Jesic shot flicked over the crossbar by Bouzanis.
Vekic did well to turn away a dangerous effort from Cox who looked likely to double Sutherland’s lead in the 60th minute.
Bouzanis was called into action at the other end soon after as he made a sensational reaction save at the near post in the 68th minute.
The Stallions finally found a breakthrough in the 69th minute when they were awarded a penalty when Mitch Mallia was taken down in the penalty area.
Captain Jesic obliged blasting a violent penalty kick past the keeper and through the back of the net to level the score at 1-1.
The goal was an injection of confidence for Marconi who nearly made it two goals in two minutes when Mallia was denied by a diving Bouzanis save.
With Marconi on the ascension, the game took a major twist with Sutherland awarded a penalty in the 82nd minute.
But Cox was unable to make the most of the Sharks golden opportunity as Vekic dived to his right to deny the young striker.
The home side refused to give up and pushed for a winner.
The NSW Blues representative had other ideas making key saves to deny Andrew and then Lindsay in the closing five minutes of the regulation.
An ambitious ball into the penalty area in the final seconds from the Sharks made for a tense final chance of the game but it wasn’t to be as Marconi cleared the danger to secure a point.
Sharks coach Nick Dimovski looked at the result as a point won and not two lost after the match as he praised how his side performed against a potential finals contender such as Marconi.
“The boys played a fantastic game of football.
“We came within a penalty kick of winning against Marconi,” Dimovski said.
“If Marconi is supposed to be the benchmark I’m impressed with what we did as we weren’t played off the park and we probably created more opportunities than them.
“Two weeks in a row we have played in games that have gone down to the wire.
“The boys from the Shire are putting in a huge performance each week and it was great to play the way we did in front of a vocal home crowd.”
It was a different story for Stallions gaffer Peter Tsekenis who felt his team should’ve come away from this match with more than just a point.
“It is a bittersweet result really. We were very poor in the first half but did well to improve in the second half
“We very easily could’ve won the game but in the same breath we very easily could’ve lost it with that penalty at the end.
“After a difficult loss in the opening game I thought the boys did well to battle for a point today.
“We’ll take the draw but we know we are capable of much more.”
Sutherland Sharks: 1 (Contigiani 35′)
Marconi Stallions: 1 (Jesic 70′ (pen))
Saturday, March 6 2021
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Referee: M Bailey
Assistant Referees: J Adabjou and S Allum
Fourth official: J Rose
Sutherland Sharks: 1. Anthony Bouzanis, 3. Gabriel Contigiani (99. Jonathan Grozdanovski 76′), 4. Brendan Hooper, 5. Nic Petrillo, 6. Pat O’Shea, 8. Oliver Green (22. Patrick Scibilio 83′), 9. Jeremy Cox (13. Charles Jones 91′). 10. Lachlan Everet (Alex Masciovecchio 83′), 14. Chris Lindsay, 17. James Andrew, 88. Chris McStay.
Substitutes not used: 11. Mason Versi, 16. Gerrard Roebuck
Yellow Cards: O’Shea.
Marconi Stallions: 1. Nenad Vekic, 2. Nathan Milgate, 3. Giorgio Speranza, 6. Mark Rodic (12. Stefan Nikolic 73′), 8. Connor Evans 17. (Martin Fernandez 61′), 9. Anthony Costa (23. Brandon Vella 45′), 10 Marko Jesic, 11. Mitchell Mallia, 14. Anthony Frangie (7. Chris Hatfield 61′), 16. Liam Youlley
Substitutes not used: 20. Don Shaw, 4.Roberto Speranza
Yellow Cards: Millgate, Mallia, Speranza
3 – Nenad Vekic (MS)
2- Chris Lindsay (SS)
1 – Chris McStay (SS)