Rockdale were the big movers in round eighteen after a big win over Manly on Sunday saw the Ilinden outfit enter the top five, while leaders Sutherland bolstered their title tilt with a victory against Bonnyrigg on Saturday afternoon.
Match of the Round
Sutherland Sharks v Bonnyrigg White Eagles, Saturday 4.30pm at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland Sharks passed a big test of their premiership credentials after beating Bonnyrigg White Eagles 3-1 in a high-quality encounter at Seymour Shaw on Saturday afternoon.
The competition leaders hit the lead early in the second half courtesy of a superb Lachlan Everett strike before the visitors swiftly equalized through Luke Ivanovic.
Ivanovic’s leveller arrived just six minutes after the opening goal and gave the hosts a real scare but a late rally saw Sutherland retake the lead through a deflected Jack Press effort and seal an important three points minutes later via Jake Borromeo.
The victory over Bonnyrigg sees Nick Dimovski’s side maintain their two point advantage over second-placed Blacktown City while the Sharks extend their lead over third-placed Sydney FC to six points with the Sky Blues going down 2-1 to Sydney United 58 on Sunday.
Bonnyrigg White Eagles had won seven matches in a row prior to kick off but now appear unlikely to challenge the Sharks in the premiership race with Hamish Brown’s team nine points away from the competition leaders.
The visitors were undone by two late lapses and will feel particularly disappointed with the way their winning streak ended after creating several great chances throughout the match.
The first of these arrived midway through the opening half when Hassan Jalloh’s attempt was cleared off the line from a corner, before Sutherland goalkeeper Nikolas Loe palmed Hayden Tucker’s fiercely struck rebound around the post.
Sutherland ensured Bonnyrigg gloveman Stevan Savicic was brought into action to deny a snapshot from Adam Massoud and a Jake Borromeo effort, but it was the White Eagles who created and missed the best chance of the half – a free header to Tucker who glanced an excellent cross from Ivanovic wide on the stroke of half time.
The home side applied the pressure at the start of the second and took the lead through Everret who buried a cracking volley into the top left hand corner after Christian Torrelli’s effort bounced off the crossbar.
Bonnyrigg’s response was excellent and the White Eagles restored parity following a long series of corners with Ivanovic confidently sliding home after a penalty box scrap.
The visitors looked likelier to score but were behind again when a long goal kick from Denham evaded the Bonnyrigg backline which allowed Borromeo and Press to combine to retake the lead.
And the speedy winger completed a quick-fire double for the Sharks minutes later by squeezing the ball underneath Savicic having pounced on an errant pass from Bonnyrigg defender Damian Cupac on the halfway line.
Sutherland coach Nick Dimovski hailed what could be a pivotal moment in the Sharks’ season.
“It was a game of high stakes and it had a real semi-final atmosphere from both sides.
“We knew Bonnyrigg would be full of confidence but we had the game plan to win.
“Full credit to my boys – we showed courage under fire and came out on top. I couldn’t fault any of the Sharks boys today as they were simply outstanding as a collective.
“With four matches to go we look to have found our composure and our never say die attitude.”
The competition frontrunners began their run home with a trip to Wollongong Wolves on Sunday.
Bonnyrigg will look to recover from their first defeat in eight matches at Rockdale City Suns on the same afternoon.
Sutherland Sharks 3 (Everett 53’, Press 70’, Borromeo 74’)
Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (Ivanovic 59’)
Saturday 15th July 2017
Seymour Shaw, Sutherland
Sutherland Sharks: 34. Jake Borromeo, 30. Lachlan Everett, 4. Andrija Mandic (29. Daniel Krkovski 65’), 33. Thomas Papa (23. Deren O’Brien 82’), 7. Jack Press (Thomas Woerndl 76’), 27. Harrison Quirk, 36. Matthew Stewart, 26. Harry Sutherland, 37. Christian Torrelli, (15. Kevin Lopes 55’) 1. Nathan Denham, 24. Adam Masoud
Substitutes Not Used: 14. Angelo Parashis
Yellow Cards: Matthew Stewart 70’, Lachlan Everett 74’
Red Cards: N/A
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 38. Amar Adilovic, 23. Jordan Cracknell, 24. Damian Cupac, 17. Leon Faria, 28. Nikola Krljar, 27. Luke Ivanovic, 39. Nikola Kremenovic, 20. Stevan Savicic, 33. Hayden Tucker, 31. Alexander Zarafetas (25. Michael Guse 72’), 21. Hassan Jalloh
Substitutes Not Used: 29. Dalibor Malisevic, 75. Milan Parenta, 77. Max Rownston, 22. Harrison Bagot
Yellow Cards: Jordan Cracknell 76’
Red Cards: N/A
Hakoah Sydney City East 2-0 Wollongong Wolves, 5.00pm at Hensley Athletic Field
Hakoah Sydney City East moved into sixth position with a routine 2-0 victory over Wollongong Wolves at Hensley Athletic Field in Saturday’s other fixture.
Leading goalscorer Connor Eldridge netted his tenth goal of the campaign to lead the charge for the Waratah Cup champions while Julian Rinaldi made sure of the points for the hosts.
Paul Hubbard’s side trail fifth-placed Rockdale City Suns by one point with four fixtures remaining and take on Sydney FC next Saturday at Lambert Park.
The defeat all but ends finals hopes for Wollongong who remain in eleventh position.
But the Wolves could yet have a say in the 2017 premiership race with the South Coast outfit set to host leaders Sutherland at Albert Butler Memorial Park next Sunday.
Rockdale City Suns 5-2 Manly United, 1.00pm at Ilinden Sports Centre
Rockdale City Suns entered the top five for the first time this campaign after hammering Manly United 5-2 in a goalfest at Ilinden Sports Centre.
James Temelkovski’s hat-trick helped the Suns to their fifth win from six matches while goals from Jonathan Grozdanovski and Michael Loupis completed the rout.
Manly United hit the back of the net through George Firth and Kye Conna but were unable to keep their slim chances of making the finals alive and seem destined to finish in the lower reaches of the table following their 2016 premiership triumph.
United can still derail the title tilt of Blacktown City when John Carnevale’s outfit arrive at Cromer Park next Saturday night, while Rockdale will look to continue their best spell of the campaign at home to Bonnyrigg.
Blacktown City 3-0 Sydney Olympic, 1.00pm at Lily’s Football Centre
Blacktown City continued their pursuit of Sutherland Sharks with a comfortable 3-0 win over Sydney Olympic at Lily’s Football Centre.
Mason Ireland netted his eleventh of the season while strikes from Samuel Hamilton and Yuta Konagaya rounded up a solid performance from the premiership hopefuls.
City remain two points behind leaders Sutherland ahead of their trip to Manly United in round nineteen.
Sydney Olympic meanwhile are reeling from a damaging fortnight that has seen the Blues slip out of the top five as a result of defeats to City and Rockdale.
The Blues fall into ninth position but only trail fifth-placed Rockdale by two points and might find themselves back into the top five with a victory over APIA Leichhardt Tigers next weekend.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 6-0 Parramatta, 2.45pm at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt Tigers solidified their finals hopes with a big 6-0 win over Parramatta at Lambert park in round eighteen’s final fixture.
The Tigers were far too good for the bottom placed Eagles and cruised to victory thanks to a Dominion Nasrabadi brace and goals to Nicholas Chymiak, Samuel Gulisano, Aedon Kyra and Paul Galimi.
Having won just one of their previous five heading into the match the triumph provides some sorely needed reprieve for APIA who had felt their position in the top five come under serious threat as a result of their late-season slump.
Michael Urukalo’s side remain in fourth position but will need to further steady their campaign with a host of teams ready to pounce should the Tigers slip up again.
It was a familiar story for the visiting Parramatta who were unable to prevent a thirteenth consecutive defeat and are all but resigned to finishing bottom of the ladder.
The Eagles will try to stop the rot in round nineteen when they host Sydney United 58 at Melita Stadium, while APIA Leichhardt will continue their finals charge against Sydney Olympic.
Sydney United 58 2-1 Sydney FC, 2.00pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
Details to come
–By Jacob Windon