Courageous Sutherland Sharks move to top of table

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A gallant Sutherland Sharks fought hard to see off Parramatta Eagles FC and secure a 1-0 win at Seymour Shaw Football Stadium on Saturday night.

A Matt Bailey strike in the 48th minute pleased the crowd of around 300 after a fairly dour first half played in pouring rain. Parramatta pushed on late in the second half though they couldn’t breach Nathan Denham’s goal.

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Sutherland looked to keep possession and stretch the compact midfield of Parramatta in the early stages with Nick Tsattalios and Chris Price proving important down the left wing. But, despite their midfield control, the Sharks couldn’t break the deep and hard pressing defence of the visitors.

Neither side could muster up a clear cut opportunity yet Sutherland was insistent on working the ball through the flanks. Parramatta, on the other hand, was more direct in their minimal time on the ball, but Fabien Lacovelli and Brodie Mooy’s long distance shots offered no challenge for Denham. Fellow new signing Matthew Osman tried to do better than Mooy’s effort but the ex-Gold Cost United and Central Coast Mariners player didn’t get enough pace on his awkwardly hit volley.

Mooy was proving dangerous on the counter-attack with deep midfield runs and he earned two corners from desperate defending to halt him. The initial headers off both set-pieces proved harmless but a deep cross from Peter Crevani off the back of a clearance fell to Brian Soane at the far post, though the wide-midfielder only managed to hit his first-time side-footed effort over the crossbar.

The visitors were looking to capitalise on the change in control and pushed more men forward in a relentless advance on the Sutherland goal. Lacovelli’s volley from Dizolaric’s knock-down skimmed the crossbar and on the stroke of half-time Parramatta were denied the lead with Tom Wilson’s header past Denham disallowed for offside.

It was these missed opportunities that ended up hurting Parramatta when, three minutes into the second half, Matt Bailey, at the far post, knocked a dangerously crossed ball into the open net. It was Jim Baiis, rather than Tsattalios, with the ball across the face of goal and only added to Parramatta’s worries as their stretched defence knew they then had two strong and dangerous wings to defend against.

It was the perfect quick-fire start the Sharks were hoping for with the half-time break the only thing capable of putting a halt to Parramatta’s late first half dominance.

Chris Camilleri was working hard for Parramatta in the midfield but they struggled to break a resilient Sharks defence. It was only long strikes and set-pieces that allowed the visitors a sight of goal and the distance strikes from Osman and Camilleri, while potentially dangerous, didn’t swerve in the wind and were relatively simple for Denham.

Osman was a continuous threat on goal but struggled to really offer a stand-out scoring chance. His difficult volley attempt flew over the bar with the final ten minutes approaching and a loss looming for the Melita side.

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But for Sutherland the final whistle nearing led to nervous and shaky defence with a couple of free-kick carelessly conceded in dangerous areas. Fortunately for the Sharks, though, Camilleri struggled to find his radar.

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Match Highlights courtesy of Football NSW

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