Sydney FC has ended their National Premier League NSW Men’s season on a high, clinging on to sixth position on the ladder, defeating the under-performing Sutherland Sharks 3-2 at Valentine Sports Park on Sunday afternoon.
Aiming to cling to sixth on the table, the Sky Blues started the game the way they finished last week against Rockdale Ilinden, claiming one point with a late stoppage-time equaliser.
Although they controlled the majority of possession to begin, they couldn’t find their way past the Sutherland defence and failed to manage any good shots to trouble Marko Bulic.
Despite the Sky Blues controlling the game in the midfield and their attacking third, Bulic’s opposite number, Adam Pavlesic, would make the first save of the afternoon.
Sydney’s constant pressure allowed Mitchell Stamatellis to find himself open in the 12th minute within their defensive line, but he could not turn the good opportunity into an early lead.
Whilst the Sky Blues’ pressure nearly saw their opponents break the deadlock, it would create a number of further goal-scoring opportunities- the best being through forward Ben Gibson.
Not giving the Sharks’ defenders any time with the ball, the forward got the ball off Bulic, only to not keep it in the field of play. Two minutes later, Jacob Brazete would have a shot of his own but would see it go across the face of goal.
After many chances, the Sky Blues would be finally rewarded in the 37th minute. The main target on most of the side’s attacking plays, Gibson would lay it off to Meliwethu Nkomo, who would earn the assist by passing it onto Joseph Lacey.
Straight from getting the ball, Lacey would rocket it into the right-post as it ricocheted off the woodwork into the back of the net.
Two minutes later, Lacey had a chance to make it 2-0, earning himself a brace in the last game of the season.
However, after receiving the ball from Gibson in a 2-on-1 opportunity against Bulic, he tried to go around the keeper in a fancy fashion instead of hitting it first time- this would cost him as Bulic came off his line leaping onto the ball.
The opportunity arose from an easy Sutherland mistake. Continually threatened for most of the opening 45 minutes, the Sutherland defensive quartet of Fumoto Kamada, Takahide Umebachi, Alexander Trajanoski, and Matthew Jackson played exceptionally well, limiting the Sky Blues’ chances to shoot.
However, Umebachi turned the ball over in the midfield this time, allowing Sydney to chip it over their head through to Gibson.
After it took the Sky Blues 37 minutes to break the deadlock in the first half, it would only take them four minutes to double their score after the break. Once again, it was Ben Gibson leading the attack.
The player of the match tracked it down the near sideline, dribbling past the Sharks’ last line of defence. He would then cross it into the middle of the penalty box, where he found a roaming Lachlan Middleton, who netted the ball past Bulic.
Two goals ahead of their opponents, they would diminish any chance of a Sutherland comeback in the 55th minute. Having been taken out by Bulic in the 18-yard box, Charlie Fryer would get sweet revenge- nailing the ball into the goal from the penalty spot.
Despite being three goals down, it didn’t stop Sutherland aiming to come back into the game. Multiple chances would test Sky Blues’ goalkeeper Adam Pavlesic, but unlike his opposing number, he wouldn’t let anything into the net, aiming to keep a clean sheet- the best save occurring in the 57th minute.
Bringing fresh legs into the game using all their substitutions, the Sharks’ presence in their attacking third would earn them a free kick.
Having barely been on the field, substitution Chris Lindsay took the free kick, shooting at the near post but couldn’t bring them back into the game with a goal.
Finally, in the 88th minute, Sutherland would claim their first goal through a Jordan Roberts penalty. The penalty came after Jesse Photi was taken down in the box by Dylan Rose after a counter-attack.
Roberts single-handedly tried to bring them back into the game and attempted a long-range shot, only to be saved by Pavlesic.
However, Takahide Umebachi would make it 3-2 in the 90th minute with a header off a cross. While they couldn’t ultimately come back into the game, it ended the Sharks’ season on a positive note.
As the full-time whistle sounded, the Sky Blues clung on to sixth position with 46 points on the National Premier League NSW Men’s table with 14 wins, four draws and 12 losses.
The Sutherland Sharks will be eager to do better next season after they avoided relegation but will end the campaign in 13th or 14th position (depending on results) with eight wins, seven draws and 14 losses.
With the season now done and duster for both teams, Football NSW spoke to Sydney FC manager Jim Van Weeren on their season and their performance today.
“For us, it’s been very positive (this season). I think the number of players that have gone on to get professional contracts with our A-League team and with other A-League teams has been really pleasing for the club.
“I don’t think that game (today) was as close as the scoreline suggests. But there was some good learning from some of our subs who came on. I think we need to be better in the situation that we gave away those goals.”
Sydney FC: 3 (Lacey 37’ Middleton 49’ Fryer 55’)
Sutherland Sharks FC: 2 (Roberts 88’ Umebachi 90’)
Sunday 27th August 2023
Valentine Sports Park, Glenwood
Referee: Stephen Lucas
Assistant Referees: Thomas Gellatly and Joshua Eiser
Fourth Official: Jackson Tippett
SYDNEY FC: 6. Matthew Scarcella (2. Cameron Fong 46’) 7. Ben Gibson (35. Marin France 74’) 12. Lachlan Middleton 13. Hayden Matthews (c) 16. Joseph Calusic 18. Joseph Lacey (37. Bailey Callaghan 53’) 26. Jacob Brazete (15. Dylan Rose 61’) 27. Wataru Kamijo 28. Meliwethu Nkomo 30. Adam Pavlesic (GK) 38. Zachary De Jesus (32. Oscar Fryer 46’)
Substitute Not Used: 40. Alexander Zaverdinos (GK)
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
SUTHERLAND SHARKS FC: 1. Marko Bulic (GK) 2. Takahide Umebachi 4. Mitchell Stamatellis (c) 5. Jesse Photi 8. Alexander Brown (6. Brodie Clarkson 63’) 11. Fumoto Kamada 15. Alexander Trajanoski 21. Luke Sauer (25. Oliver Randazzo 53’) 26. Antonis Martis (14. Chris Lindsay 63’) 27. Matthew Jackson (3. Jordan Roberts 53’) 91. Jonty Busch (7. Jay McGowan 53’)
Substitute Not Used: 22. Jacob Cremen-Cowan (GK)
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
3- Ben Gibson (Sydney FC)
2- Oscar Fryer (Sydney FC)
1- Wataru Kamijo (Sydney FC)
By Ethan Lee Chalk (Twitter: @EthanLeeChalk)