Competition leaders Sutherland Sharks bounced back from last week’s 3-1 defeat to Sydney FC with a big win at home over Hakoah Sydney City East, while teams are queuing up outside the top five with Sydney United 58 and Manly United both ramping up the pressure with wins.
Match of the Round
Sutherland Sharks 2-1 Hakoah Sydney City East, Saturday 4.30pm at Seymour Shaw
Sutherland Sharks came from behind to edge Hakoah Sydney City East 2-1 in Saturday’s fiercely contested top five clash at Seymour Shaw.
The competition frontrunners were staring down the barrel of a third straight defeat after trailing the visitors midway through the opening half through Connor Eldridge’s neat 24th minute header.
But Nick Dimovski’s side levelled the scores on the cusp of half time via Brad Bartels and grabbed the lead thanks to a composed finish from second half substitute Noah Chia to secure a big three points.
It wasn’t a vintage performance from the 2017 Champions, who laboured through the first period against an experienced Hakoah rearguard and survived a few near misses throughout, but the Sharks offered a showing of grit to maintain their three-point competition lead over Blacktown City.
Sutherland will now turn their attention to next week’s encounter with high-flying Wollongong Wolves as they look to secure back to back Premierships.
Hakoah meanwhile will be encouraged by their display despite suffering their second defeat in a row, with Eldridge in particular putting in an inspiring cameo.
After weathering an early Sutherland offensive the Hakoah captain seized the lead out of nothing midway through the opening half. Hakoah fullback Brad Paikin launched a ball forward from the halfway line, Eldridge rose and greeted the cross with a crashing header to break the deadlock.
The Hakoah frontman’s sixth goal of the campaign spurred the visitors into action, who saw James Combes go close to doubling the lead when he sent a header from a corner past the post.
But Sutherland fought back on the stroke of half time. The Sharks’ fullbacks combined to great effect with Bradley Bartels guiding Harrison Quirk’s clipped delivery over the onrushing Hakoah goalkeeper Michael Figueria to restore parity.
Figueria’s misjudgment ensured the two sides entered the sheds level at the break, but the Hakoah number one atoned for his mistake immediately after the interval when he heroically dived at the feet of Sharks attacker Deren O’Brien who looked certain to score after a defence-splitting pass from James Temelkovski.
The Sharks frontman delivered another classy performance in front of the Seymour Shaw faithful, but it was his opposite number who received the best chance of the match when Hakoah broke from a Sutherland corner in the 67th minute. Unfortunately for the visitors, Eldridge saw a tame first-time effort comfortably gathered by Sharks custodian Nikolas Loe after the side raced into a three on one situation.
It proved to be a huge miss for Hakoah, with Sutherland hitting the front with 20 minutes remaining. A sequence of quick touches and flicks on the edge of the area involving Stephen Kayes and Temelkovski saw Chia one on one with Figueria, and the second half substitute kept his composure to poke Sutherland into the lead.
Sutherland ensured the visiting defence remained busy in the final stages, but it was again Eldridge that saw another opportunity go begging late on, after seeing a header parried by Loe with Hakoah unable to bury the rebound.
Sharks coach Nick Dimovski reserved special praise for Temelkovski following the match.
“I will credit Hakoah for defending brilliantly well throughout the game but I thought our striker James Temelkovski today was fantastic,” said Dimovski.
“I thought he took his game to a new level and his best football is going to be at the back end of the season.”
The Sutherland stalwart also said he was proud of his side’s turnaround after last round’s loss to Sydney FC and issued a statement of intent to the rest of the competition.
“I urged my team after last week’s defeat to Sydney to respond quickly – good teams don’t lose too many, and we’re a good team.
“There’s eight games to go, we’re in a very good position and we’re only going to get stronger.
“We’re not going to die wondering this year. We want to win the competition again and we want to win the minor premiership – catch us if you can.”
Sutherland Sharks (Bartels 42’, Chia 70’)
Hakoah Sydney City East (Eldridge 23’)
Saturday 9th June, 2018
Seymour Shaw, Miranda
Sutherland Sharks: 25. Blake Currey, 7. Stephen Kayes, 21. Nikolas Loe, 53. Kuot Mallet (28. Noah Chia 56’), 23. Deren O’Brien, 33. Thomas Papa, 27. Harrison Quirk (3. Richard Stewart 74’), 32. James Temelkovski (47. Jacob Gjorsevski 76’), 5. Bradley Bartels, 4. Hayden Morton, 26. Harry Sutherland
Substitutes not used: 31. Gabriel Contigiani, 38. Jacob Forster
Yellow cards: N/A
Red cards: N/A
Hakoah Sydney City East: 30. Connor Eldridge, 40. Michael Figueira, 29. Nathan Hancock, 38. Finley Hayhurst, 33. Jordan Lewis, 27. Jordan Makridopolus (31. Satchel Kolt 71’), 24. Brad Paikin, 11. Joshua Orchard, 15. Steven Katsionis, 20. James Combes (32. Jacob McDonald 68’), 16. Jordan Crighton
Substitutes not used: 1. Marley Beeston, 22. Mitchell Knight, 35. Daniel Mahachi
Yellow cards: Hancock 55’
Red cards: N/A
Manly United 4-0 Sydney Olympic, 5.00pm at Cromer Park
Kye Conna was at the double to keep Manly hot on the heels of the top five after a 4-0 win over Sydney Olympic at Cromer Park.
Manly’s forward notched two goals alongside strikes from George Firth and Caoi De Godoy to move the Cromer Park outfit onto 18 points.
Manly are only four points away from fourth place and have now won four of their last six. Adam Griffiths’ side host struggling Marconi Stallions next round.
Sydney Olympic remain rooted to the bottom of the table ahead of next weekend’s clash with Hakoah Sydney City East.
Wollongong Wolves 1-2 Sydney FC, 5.00pm at WIN Stadium
Benjamin Koop’s brace guided Sydney FC to a crucial win over Wollongong Wolves in the pair’s third versus fourth encounter at WIN Stadium.
The Sky Blues attacker hit a double to edge out a Jordan Nikolovski goal for the home side and ensure Sydney go above Wolves on the table.
Following their excellent 3-1 victory over leaders Sutherland Sharks last week, it was another encouraging display from Giancarlo Italiano’s side who remain in touching distance with competition frontrunners.
Wollongong, who had won three in a row without conceding a goal prior to the defeat, drop in fourth position and host the Sharks in a huge clash at Albert Butler Memorial Park next weekend.
Sydney FC face Sydney United 58 at Lambert Park.
Sydney United 58 4-0 Rockdale City Suns, 5.30pm at Sydney United Sports Centre
Sydney United 58 moved within striking distance of the top five thanks to a commanding 4-0 win over Rockdale City Suns at Sydney United Sports Centre on Saturday.
The Reds notched goals through frontman Kyle Cimenti and are now three points away from fifth-placed Hakoah Sydney City East.
United 58 have an important test of their finals credentials next week in the form of a trip to Lambert Park to take on an ever-improving Sydney FC outfit.
Rockdale on the other hand will have to go back to the drawing board and have a nine point deficit to overturn if they are to play finals football this season.
The Suns take on Bonnyrigg White Eagles at home next round.
APIA Leichhardt Tigers 1-3 Marconi Stallions, 1.30pm at Lambert Park
APIA Leichhardt Tigers slumped to a 3-1 loss to Marconi Stallions at Lambert Park on Sunday afternoon.
The Stallions struck through Martin Fernandez, Alex Gollan and Dalibor Malesevic to notch a morale boosting win and move level with the Tigers on 16 points.
It’s now two wins on the trot for Marconi who will want to continue their recent momentum in next weekend’s encounter with Manly at Cromer Park.
Meanwhile, APIA face a difficult trip to premiership-chasing Blacktown City.
Postponed: Bonnyrigg White Eagles v Blacktown City, 5.00pm at Bonnyrigg Sports Club
-By Jacob Windon