The Jensen Park encounter was played on a slippery surface, following the heavy downpour ? and storms ? that hit the area just after 1pm calling for the Grade 20 encounter between the two sides to be called off after 15? minutes.
Bankstown’s sluggish start to the season – in terms of results ? continued, as the Peter Tsekenis and Peter Papoythis coached side dominated for large spells, yet again failing to secure maximum points.
Sutherland Sharks, who remain unbeaten after seven Rounds, was always a threat with their quick counter-attacks, though the side from the Shire must certainly pay special mention to stand-out performer Phillip Zabaks in goal.
The Sharks shot-stopper was flawless throughout, continually frustrating Bankstown?s strikers. Zabaks? form to-date has been of an incredibly high standard ? further testament to the top-spot held by the Sharks at present.
Bankstown City had the luxury of fielding Robbie Mileski, back to full fitness, and former Sharks striker Paul Harries up-front, the latter up against his former club side.
Shane Webb was given a ?free role? to wander into the centre of midfield, causing the Sharks problems throughout the encounter, meanwhile George Nohra marshalled the midfield with his experience in the centre of the park.
The Sharks, without suspended midfielder Nick Stavroulakis, looked to exploit the quick feet of Jim Bakis on the right-flank, along with the very good form of the club?s top goal scorer Brad Boardman.
The crowd was treated to some great attacking football from the opening whistle as Bankstown took the match to the TeleChoice Premier League front-runners.
Phillip Makrys? corner from the right was headed goalwards by Paul Harries ? the only time the home-side manage to beat Phillip Zabaks ? though the effort was cleared off the line by a defender.
Robert Mileski proved he was up for a big match from the early exchanges, displaying confidence with his touches.
Mileski?s vision was brilliant as the James Monie/Paul Harries partnership received some tantalising passes from the Bankstown number 10.
Sutherland Sharks responded in the 6? minute when David Huxley and Shane Lyons combined well with some neat interplay. Jim Bakis started the attack, though Lyons had the final say with a clear effort on goal ? Zlatko Josevski in the Bankstown goal was up to the challenge and diverted the ball out for a corner.
The home side scurried down the other end with some quick movement of the ball from Makrys and Nohra, though Sutherland was equally impressive as they managed to pressure as soon as they won possession.
The home-side was on the back foot in the 8? minute as a failed ?punch? by Josevski saw the ball fall to Lyons inside the penalty-area, though the Bankstown defence managed to clear the danger.
James Monie almost scored a bizarre goal in the 11? minute as his attempted cross with the outside of his right boot from the left-flank almost caught Zabaks unawares. The Sharks? goalkeeper was not to be embarrassed though, securing the ball just underneath his crossbar.
The Phillip Zabaks show commenced soon after with a tremendous low save down to his left following a venomous drive from Shane Webb.
In the space of 1? minute, Zabaks produced two more ?world class? saves, the first off a looping Paul Harries header where the Sharks number 99 was at full-stretch to push the ball aside.
The resulting clearance saw the ball fall to Webb just outside the penalty-area, and the Bankstown ?speedster? unleashed a second long-range effort along the wet surface ? Zabaks again up to the challenge.
Pedj Bojic and Jim Bakis combined well in the 22? minute, the latter finding himself one-on-one with Josevski on the left. Bakis? attempted right-foot effort was weak, in a situation where a left-footed effort would have caused concern for the Bankstown rear-guard.
The home-side?s best chance arrived via the right boot of Robert Mileski in the 32? minute.
The attacking midfielder hit the top of the crossbar with his ?Beckham-esque? free-kick.
Zabaks was this time routed to his spot, caught totally unawares of the sublime Mileski effort.
The half ended with another fine save from Zabaks, again denying the home-side the goal they so richly deserved.
Concern amongst the spectators present did arise in the 43? minute when a head collision between James Monie and Michael Katz saw both players remain ?down and out? on the surface.
After treatment Monie was back onto his feet, though the stretcher was required for the unlucky Sharks defender – Katz was taken to Bankstown Hospital with a head injury.
Both sides continued to attack after the break, though the clearer chances were not as frequent as was the case in the first period.
Midway through the half, Shane Webb was the saviour for the home-side as his interception of a Brad Boardman cross from the left denied Jim Bakis what would have been a one-on-one opportunity.
Matthew Borg was thrown in to the attack for Bankstown and his first touch of the ball provided Monie with some space on the right.
Monie?s speed, and confident touches of the ball, gave the striker some space as he enterred the penalty-area, though the attack was thwarted by some strong defending from the Sharks, marshalled as always by George Souris.
6? minutes from time, Sutherland almost stole the points as a failed offside attempt by the home-side saw a loose ball fall to the feet of Shane Lyons. The Sharks midfielder picked his shot, though Josevski did exceptionally well to stand big and thwart the Sharks? effort.
Following the match Bankstown City?s coaching duo expressed their disappointment for the result, though certainly not for their team?s effort.
Head coach Peter Tsekenis:
?We are disappointed with the result, we wanted the three-points and we believe we deserved more than the one-point we got today.?
Tsekenis? Assistant Peter Papoythis echoed his colleague?s thoughts:
?Just like so many matches this season, we?ve come away with less than what we expected.
?We can?t take anything from our players, they have trained so well this week and the performance this afternoon was really positive ? we just couldn?t score.?
Sutherland Sharks? suspended midfielder Nick Stavroulakis was a disappointed spectator for the encounter as he was ineligible, though he did comment positively the final result for his side:
?A good result to get one-point here against a very strong side.
?Before the match, Cliff (Pointer) made sure we understood that we had a tough side in-front of us. Not many teams get points from Bankstown City here at Jensen ? they are a strong side ? so we are extremely happy to take a point from the match.?
?It was tough sitting out of this match for me personally, as a footballer always wants to play ? especially in the big matches like the one today against a big team like Bankstown.
?Next week I will be eligible again, and I can?t wait to get out onto the playing surface again.?
Bankstown City 0
Sutherland Sharks 0
Venue: Jensen Park
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Assistant Referees: Daniel Dewhurst, David Christie
Fourth Official: M. Clisdell
Crowd: Approx. 500.
Bankstown City: 1. Zlatko Josevski; 3. Shane Webb, 4. Brett Studman, 5. Richard Luksic, 7. Steve Liavas, 8. George Nohra (C) (2. Ibrahim Haydar ?32), 9. James Monie, 10. Robert Mileski, 11. Phillip Makrys (99. C. Cody Bascar 88?), 16. Tayfun Devrimol, 19. Paul Harries (36. Matthew Borg 79?)
Substitutes not used: 18. Omar Saadi, 20. A. Bazi
Yellow Cards: George Nohra 54?, Phillip Makrys 68?
Red Cards: Nil
Sutherland Sharks: 99. Phillip Zabaks; 2. George Souris, 3. Brendan Gan, 4. Pedj Bojic, 6. Shane Lyons, 7. Jim Bakis (10 Matthew Hall 81?), 8. David Huxley, 9. Bradley Boardman, 11. Ben Spruce, 15. Michael Katz (38 Michael Robinson 43?), 22. David Reid
Substitutes not used: 1. Michael Brandalise, 39. N. Jablonski, 5. Dave Abel
Yellow Cards: Jim Bakis 34?, Pedj Bojic 55?
Red Cards: Nil
3 ? Phillip Zabaks (SS)
2 ? Shane Webb (BC)
1 ? James Monie (BC)
-By Joseph Carlucci