A Mario Shabow double has helped Blacktown City to a 2-0 win against a ten-man Sutherland Sharks at Seymour Shaw Park on Saturday.
Strikes either side of the interval from the former A-League attacking dynamo Shabow were the difference as Blacktown made it back-to-back wins for the first time this season.
A red card to Sharks striker Peter Simonoski in the first half made it tough for the home side to keep pace with their opponents as they looked to secure an unlikely draw after backing up from their rescheduled Wednesday evening 1-0 loss to APIA Leichhardt.
However, it wasn’t to be with Blacktown securing all three points to stay in the finals race.
Sutherland had a fast start to the contest when Jonathan Grozdanovski fashioned an early chance.
The young striker hit the upright after turning on a sixpence which almost caught out Blacktown shotstopper Tristan Prendergast.
After the dismal one-nil loss to APIA in midweek, Sharks’ coach Nick Dimovski handed striker Peter Simonoski his first start of the season after a long injury lay-off and he made himself busy in the opening exchanges.
But it would prove a bittersweet return for the experienced frontman
The frenetic pace couldn’t continue in the humid conditions and both side welcomed the drinks break midway through the half.
For all the early promise there was little in the way of goalmouth action as the cat and mouse midfield battle took precedence.
Blacktown’s Lachlan Campbell played the perfect ball over the top for Jak O’Brien but the midfielder was caught offside by the advancing Sharks’ defence on the restart.
The visitors were probing every area in search of the opening goal and it eventually came from Shabow who latched onto a loose ball in the box to hammer City ahead.
A short corner played to Adam Berry was crossed into the mix and in the ensuing scramble it was the City striker who kept the coolest head to rifle home.
It was an all too familiar feeling for the Sharks this season who would once again need to dig deep to come from behind if they were to get anything from the match.
Their response would be critical and the situation deteriorated when a Simonoski wayward elbow on Daniel Collins left Referee Craig Fisher with no option but to issue a straight red card.
City thought they had benefited immediately from the numerical advantage in extending the lead when Grant Lynch headed home a free-kick but again the offside flag was raised and the goal rightly disallowed.
Blacktown were on the up going into the half-time break, both by a goal and player to the good, and it would take something very special for the Blues to pull it back.
City adopted a back three formation, Askew pushing up to overload midfield and curb any potential threat, as James Andrew cut a lonely figure up top for Sutherland.
Everett slid the ball through for Andrew whose shot was blocked at the near post by Prendergast but it was as close as the home side would come to a goal.
Suleyman Bangura brought the best out of Anthony Bouzanis from a header after a delightful cross from Dakota Askew, the ‘keeper able to palm the effort over the bar.
Another strike for City was ruled out for offside when Travis Major found the back of the net in the 64th minute.
Shabow was not to be denied when he fired in the rebound after a Bangura shot was parried by Bouzanis.
Alex Masciovecchio posed Blacktown a few problems with his enthusiasm, pace and trickery after coming off the bench but it proved too little too late for the home side who had succumbed to a thoroughly professional Blacktown performance.
A forlorn Sharks’ coach Nick Dimovski stated afterwards.
“It never helps losing a player so early in the game and it took the sting out of us,” he said.
“I thought my players dug in after the card and tried to contain Blacktown to a respectable performance but we knew they are always a tough opponent.
“Blacktown are coming back into form and can definitely play better and I don’t think today was one of their best performances but it was enough to beat us today but I feel there are a few more gears for them to move up into.
“We have a tough trip down the road against Sydney FC next weekend and we’ll certainly look to bounce back after a disappointing week for us.”
Blacktown City Coach Mark Crittenden said the red card proved to be a major turning point in the match.
“Obviously when they lost a man it changes the game a little bit,” he said.
“But I felt we were pretty much dominating the match from the outset.
“This is always a hard place to come and Nick (Dimovski) has them very well organised and we knew this would be a tough game.
“That said, we have a bit of quality in our squad and we’re starting to get players back from injury and that will help us reach where we want to be but we’re improving.
“We’re starting to find a few goals now, young Mario (Shabow) has got himself a couple today and we kept a clean sheet which is always good, but we’re starting to find the goals now and that’s a real positive for the boys.
“With the boys coming back we’re starting to get the depth of squad we are looking for and today is another step in the right direction.”
Sutherland Sharks 0
Blacktown City 2 (Shabow 33’, 67’)
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Saturday, 3rd April 2021
Referee: Craig Fisher
Ast. Refs: Sophie Allum & Matthew Staples
4th Official: Brodie Merchant
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Anthony BOUZANIS, 4.Brendan HOOPER, 5.Nic PETRILLO, 6.Patrick O’SHEA, 7.Peter SIMONOSKI, 8.Oliver GREEN, 10.Lachlan EVERETT, 13.Charlie JONES (22.Patrick SCIBILLIO 76’), 17.James ANDREW, 88.Chris McSTAY, 99.Jonathan GROZDANOVSKI (25.Alex MASCIOVECCHIO 57’)
Substitutes not used: 9.Jeremy COX, 12.Harry SUTHERLAND, 16.Gerrard ROEBUCK, 21.Luke SAUER
Yellow Cards: O’Shea 60’
Red Cards: Simonski 39’
Blacktown City: 1.Tristan PRENDERGAST, 3.Daniel COLLINS, 4.Lachlan CAMPBELL, 5.Grant LYNCH, 6.Matthew LEWIS (24.Jackson BANDIERA 68’), 7.Travis MAJOR (34.Sebastian HERNANDEZ 90+2’), 8.Jak O’BRIEN, 10.Mario SHABOW (22.Carlos DE OLIVEIRA 78’), 17.Dakota ASKEW, 18.Suleyman BANGURA (11.Rhett DESILVA68’), 19.Adam BERRY
Substitutes not used: 20.Dylan NISKI, 40.Charles MENDY
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Shabow (BC)
2 – Everett (SS)
1 – Collins (BC)
By National Premier Leagues Reporter Micky Brock