Sutherland Sharks battled to their first victory of National Premier League NSW season after second half goals from Lachlan Hughes and Nick Olsen handed Grant Lee’s side a 2-1 win over Sydney FC at Seymour Shaw on Saturday evening.
Hughes and Olsen each struck to give the Sharks a two-goal buffer early in the second stanza and although the visitors pulled a goal back through former Bonnyrigg White Eagles striker Hassan Jalloh midway through the half Sutherland held on for a hard-fought home triumph.
Sydney will rue both lapses that allowed Sutherland to strike and the Sky Blues’ failure to capitalise on a dominant opening half display in which returning Sutherland product Jeremy Cox saw a string of opportunities go astray.
Cox was fresh from a treble against Hakoah Sydney City East in round one and could’ve had a hatful in the first half after lashing an early effort against the post, forcing Sutherland goalkeeper Ryan Norval into a solid stop at the near post and was later denied by a fantastic last ditch tackle by Sharks skipper Jacob Tratt.
Tratt enjoyed the only Sutherland chance of the half when a close ranger header was cleared off the line on the cusp of half time.
The chances began to flow for the hosts after the interval and they broke the deadlock ten minutes into the second when Hughes cushioned Keisuke Hayashi’s cutback past Duro Dragicevic.
Sutherland doubled their lead ten minutes later after Olsen bolted onto a clever Lachlan Everett through ball before emphatically driving the ball underneath Dragicevic.
Robbie Stanton’s side were unable to replicate the intensity of their opening half but did manage to breathe life into the encounter when Jalloh bundled home his first Sky Blues goal following a goalmouth scramble.
Sutherland coach Grant Lee admitted his side were fortunate to escape from the first half unscathed but praised his charges for getting over the line – an intangible that often evaded the Sharks last season.
“Sydney FC is a bunch of really talented kids who are training every day and have a first class facility so it was tough – they’re organised, they’re structured and they move the ball very well,” he said.
“I thought we were a bit sloppy tonight. We could’ve been two or three down at half time but our second half was much better.
“This time last year I think we probably would’ve conceded again, we were redlining for too long at the top but the difference now is we have a little bit more quality and a little bit more experience that can grind out a game when we have to which is a nice situation to be in.”
A magnanimous Robbie Stanton meanwhile praised the quality of the encounter overall and said his young players could well mount a genuine threat on the competition if they continue to improve.
“I think we made a couple of errors in the second half and paid the price,” he said.
“I’m not upset we didn’t take our chances, it’s just experience and some days they go in and some days they don’t.
“But in terms of the performance I’m so happy with the players tonight. It’s a learning curve for us and our errors are getting less and less, we’re creating more opportunities and on a good day we’re 3-0 up at half time.
Stanton’s Sky Blues get the chance to respond from their first defeat of the season when they host Wollongong Wolves on Saturday, while Sutherland face Hakoah Sydney City East on the same night.
Sutherland Sharks 2 (Hughes 55’, Olsen 65’)
Sydney FC 1 (Jalloh 75’)
Saturday 17th of March 2018
Seymour Shaw, Miranda
Sutherland Sharks: 10. Joshua Da Silva, 6. Lachlan Everett, 20. Keisuke Hayashi, 8. Lachlan Hughes, 15. Nicholas Littler, 4. Hayden Morton (12. Blair Brown 40’), 1. Ryan Norval, 22. Nicholas Olsen, 11. Hristijan Tanoski (9. Adrian Vranic 60’), 2. Jacob Tratt, 18. Juan Zapata (16. Ryoga Suyama 80’)
Substitutes not used: 21. Nikolas Loe, 17. Leroy Jennings
Yellow cards: N/A
Red cards: N/A
Sydney FC: 6. Andreas Agamemnonos, 15. Jeremy Cox, 2. Brendan Curtis, 30. Duro Dragicevic, 11. Luke Ivanovic (21. Finn Ballard-Mcbride 85’), 14. Joel King (12. Jackson Bandiera 80’), 4. Liam Mcging, 8. Sam Mcillhatton, 16. William Mutch (9. Hassan Jalloh 67’), 5. Patrick Scibilio, 7. Jerry Skotadis
Substitutes not used: 1. Mitchell Evans, 3. Patrick Flottmann
Yellow cards: 21. Finn Ballard-Mcbride 87’
Red cards: N/A
Sydney FC face Central Coast Mariners away from home on Saturday 24 March (kick off 5:35pm AEDT). Join like-minded Sky Blues' fans and back the squad from our Official Home Away from Home at The Star, Sydney.