Sutherland Sharks will play Blacktown City in the 2019 National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s 20s Grand Final at Bankwest Stadium next weekend, following a chaotic 3-1 win over Rockdale City Suns on Saturday night.
In their third meeting this month, the Sharks went ahead of Rockdale inside five minutes; James Temelkovski winning and converting a penalty to continue his stellar run of form. Max Rowston saw red before the half hour mark, giving Sutherland a hefty advantage as they added a second goal before conceding with twenty minutes to go. Temelkovski rounded out the match with another in injury time, taking the Sharks through to yet another decider against Blacktown next Saturday.
Any match plans were torn up just four minutes after the first whistle when Sutherland broke forward with James Temelkovski, who was cut down as he charged into the box to earn his side a penalty.
Rockdale could have little complaint, and were duly punished for a senseless foul before either team had found its rhythm.
Entrusted with the spot kick, Temelkovski sent the Max Rowston the wrong way and gave Sutherland the early advantage.
Rockdale had a golden chance to equalise midway through the half when a throw-in from the right flank was flicked on to James Cakovski in the six-yard box, but his first effort was blocked by Quentin Cheng before a second attempt flew wide of the near post.
Already down a goal, the situation was yet to get worse for the hosts. Sutherland played a long ball over the top and drew out Rowston, who inexplicably handled the ball under pressure from Charlie Jones. The referee could only go to his pocket for a red card, leaving Rowston pointing to his chest as he was replaced by Noah Botic.
Botic’s first job was to set the wall for the set piece; his second was to pick the ball out of the back of the net. Temelkovski curled a brilliant free kick over the wall and inside the near post, doubling the Sharks’ lead after just half an hour.
Temelkovski was a constant threat as Sutherland closed out the first 45, and might have given his side a 3-0 lead on the stroke of halftime if not for a vital intervention from Botic, who turned the ball away for a corner before watching Brodie Clarkson curl a shot just wide of the far post.
Rockdale sat deep as the Sharks continued to roll forward after the break. A rare break saw the hosts win a corner after good work from Cakovski down the right, but the chance was wasted as the ball floated over a crowded penalty area only to be cleared at the back post.
Hesan Soufi pulled his side back within a goal of their opponents with just under twenty minutes left on the clock, following up a save from Mario Aleksik which the goalkeeper could only push into the Rockdale man’s path.
Rockdale piled men forward in an increasingly desperate hunt for an equaliser but came undone in injury time as Sutherland broke in a two-on-one against a stretched defence; Temelkvoski weighing up a pass to Matthew Taverniti before driving the ball through Botic from a narrow angle to complete his hattrick.
Rockdale had no further reply; and can only blame themselves for a disappointing collapse in their biggest match of the season.
Nick Dimovski will take up the reigns of the Sharks first team next season, and will no doubt be eager to end his time as coach of the 20s side with yet another Championship to his name.
Blacktown City, needless to say, will have other ideas.
Rockdale City Suns FC 1 (Soufi 71’)
Sutherland Sharks FC 3 (Temelkovski 5’, 29’, 92’)
24th August, 2019
Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns: 33. CAKOVSKI James, 27. ANGELOU Jackson, 21. CURREY Blake, 30. Manno Nathan, 32. AHMED Mohamed, 42. CONTIGIANI Gabriel, 16. MALFARA Alexander, 36. BLACHURA Daniel, 22. ROWTON Max, 31. HAMDACHE Mouhamed, 38. SHAINFIELD Samuel
Red card: Rowton 27’
Sutherland Sharks FC: 2. CHENG Quentin, 38. TEMELKOVSKI James, 25. CLARKSON Brodie, 29. WILEY Jarrad, 15. PAPA Thomas, 34. JONES Charlie, 32. LOPEZ Alexander, 28. STEWART Richard, 31. CARLI James, 24. BRISCHETTO Dominic, 26. ALEKSIK Mario