The Sutherland Sharks have moved off the bottom of the NPL NSW Men’s competition ladder after a tense 1-0 victory against the Mt Druitt Town Rangers in a chilly Saturday evening at Popondetta Park.
Always a tricky place to go to, the Sharks pushed till then end thanks to an Oliver Green second half header that gave the Shire side their third win of the season.
The hosts will be left ruing a missed opportunity to keep their final’s hopes alive but were wasteful in front of goal. They had to come to terms with a missed penalty from the always reliable Jack Stewart and were down to 10-men for the final half hour after Marc Warren’s saw red after two bookable offences.
The opening exchanges were tense as both teams tried to find their footing on the slick Popondetta surface.
The Sharks were first to have a proper chance when defender Gabriel Contigiani found some space before he arrowed his shot wide soon followed by a Jonathan Grozdanovski opportunity.
Coming off their 5-2 loss last weekend at the hands of Sydney FC, the Rangers wanted to make amends back on their reliable home turf. Mitchell Smith sent his cross to Fumoto Kamada whose effort flashed wide of Sutherland Sharks custodian Anthony Bouzanis’ posts.
The Sharks continued to try and take a bite out of the Mount Druitt defence. Contigiani nodded wide again from an Oliver Green cross then Chris Lindsay curled his free-kick over the wall but was denied by Mount Druitt ‘keeper Carlos Saliadarre.
The hosts then had a pair of late chances in the first stanza. Stewart’s shot went wide then a well delivered corner was almost flicked towards goal but the side’s went into the break at 0-0.
Coming out of the break, the Sharks were the brighter side through Jeremy Cox.
The striker had a pair of chances to put his side ahead but was denied twice by terrific stops from Saliadarre as the game searched for the opener.
The wait didn’t last long as the Sharks found the opener.
A wonderfully delivered corner from Lindsay positioned right on the head of Green to nod home, making it 1-0 to the Sharks in a vital clash.
Much like Sydney buses, we didn’t wait long for the next major incident. Smith won the Mount Druitt Town Rangers a penalty. Stewart stepped up, went left but Sharks custodian Bouzanis guessed right to keep it at 1-0.
Looking to fire back, Stewart weaved his magic on the left side to get past several Sharks defenders before he cut it back to Smith inside the box, his strike partner’s touch flew wide as the game went past the hour mark.
The mission got harder for Mount Druitt when experienced defender Marc Warren was sent off for a second yellow card offence. The home side despite being down to ten almost struck back when substitute Toufic Alameddine broke the off-side trap but put his effort straight at Bouzanis.
Sutherland Sharks were circling the winner’s column and almost put the contest to bed in the 84th minute when Green again found himself free in the box. Green thumped his header wide of the right post.
Pushing forward for an equaliser, Mount Druitt had a free-kick on the left which was recycled well for a cross to come in on the right. Travis Oughtred was free inside the area but nodded his header wide much to the disappointment of the home fans.
Post-match Mount Druitt Town Rangers coach Stewart Montgomery was disappointed to lose tonight against a desperate Sutherland Sharks side.
“I thought we were ok. We created enough chances, missed a penalty and a few one-on-ones, but I think we didn’t deserve to lose, a draw probably was a fair result.
“I think those who watched will know there was one side playing to win while the other was holding on. They got us on a set piece in the end tonight.” said Montgomery.
A delighted Sutherland Sharks coach Nick Dimovski heaped praise on his side including the back three and ‘keeper Anthony Bouzanis in what was a six pointer for the visitors.
“I thought we were the better side tonight. We peppered the Mt Druitt goal and we deserved the victory tonight. I have said that Anthony Bouzanis is one of the best keepers in the NPL NSW Men’s competition and has a spot in my side.
“The back three were also dynamite tonight. Bringing back Chris Lindsay was important for us and helped us get the three points.
“The wooden spoon isn’t something we talk about, there is plenty of points on offer so we’ll enjoy tonight and regroup for Blacktown City next week,” finished Dimovski.
Saturday 12 June 2021
Popondetta Park, Emerton
Referee: Christian Verdicchio
Assistant Referees: B. Wright & J. Park
Fourth Official: A. Naji
Mount Druitt Town Rangers 0
Sutherland Sharks FC 1 (Green ‘54)
Mount Druitt Town Rangers: 1. SALIADARRE Carlos, 2. MONAHAN-VAIKA Solomon-Johnn, 3. OUGHTRED Travis, 4. SMITH Mitchell (MACEROLA ‘76), 6. THOMPSON Blake, 7. STEWART Jack, 8. PEREZ Jason (9. ALAMEDDINE ‘60), 14. KAMADA Fumoto, 17. COSKERIE Cooper (10. TSUJIMURA ‘86), 21. ELRICH Tarek, 33. WARREN Marc
Unused subs: 13. ALGAWARI Ahmed, 19. BURR Brayden, 26. SUNMOLA Olayinka
Yellow cards: Monahan-Vaika, Warren, Oughtred, Stewart
Red cards: Warren
Sutherland Sharks FC: 1. BOUZANIS Anthony, 3. CONTIGIANI Gabriel, 4. HOOPER Brendan, 6. O’SHEA Patrick, 7. SIMONOSKI Peter (22. SCIBILIO ‘86), 8. GREEN Oliver, 9. COX Jeremy (12. SUTHERLAND ‘90+4), 13. JONES Charlie, 14. LINDSAY Chris, 88. MCSTAY Christopher, 99. GROZDANOVSKI Jonathan (17. ANDREW ‘56)
Unused subs: 16. ROEBUCK Gerard, 21. SAUER Luke, 25. MASCIOVECCHIO Alex
Yellow cards: Lindsay, Jones
By Justin Davies (@JustDavies90)