Sutherland Sharks close in on Minor Premiership title


Apart from a Shane Lyons solo effort early on, it was pretty much one-way traffic from the visitors and when they did manage to find the target they found custodian Phillip Zabaks, arguably the best goalkeeper in the league this term, in Man-of-the-Match form and you could sense this was to be a night of frustration for the Lions.
Paul Harries played in Shane Webb on the left of the box and his powerfully hit low shot was well saved and smothered by Zabaks, moments before Robert Mileski, who turned in a beautifully executed goal-ward bound curling effort, forced Zabaks into a splendid full stretch save.
Perhaps his best effort came four minutes later when tipping over a deflected free-kick from Phil Makrys with his fingertips to deny yet another opportunity, and the plethora of squandered chances was to continue and the price was paid very late on in the first period when firstly Nick Stavroulakis, playing his best match for some weeks, poked the ball towards the empty Bankstown net, with Zlatko Joseski well beaten, only for Jim Bakis, in a passive offside position, to nudge the ball home and therefore playing himself offside and the goal was disallowed, much to the chagrin of Stavroulakis.
If it affected the Sharks it didn?t show when less than 30?? seconds later they hit the front in stoppage time when Brendan Gan was played clean through a sleeping Lions defence and went one-on-with with Joseski. Cleverly drawing him toward the near post he slipped the ball over to Brad Boardman who neatly side-stepped a defender and planted his shot low into the corner of the net to give the Sharks an unlikely one-nil lead at the break.
Sutherland took the game to Bankstown upon resumption of play and created plenty of half-chances before another terrific ball saw Gan again clean through and with the rapidly advancing Joseski rushing off his line, lobbed him with aplomb to give the home side a two goal cushion which, in reality, they hardly deserved on the night.
One positive for the visitors was the delightful link-up play between Shane Webb, Harries and Tayfun Devrimol down the left-flank with quick interchange and pace but it was scant reward for their endeavours when Boardman added his second of the evening with an almost identical goal to his first as he slid the ball under Joseski and into the far corner to make it 3-nil to the Sharks.
Possible A-League target Robbie Mileski scored a tremendous free-kick from the edge of the box that whipped over the 7-man wall and into Zabaks? top right-hand corner but it remained little more than a consolation for the Lions who, to their credit, battled away until the final whistle but can blame themselves for the loss of three goals, and more importantly as they chase a spot in the finals, three points.
Peter Tsekenis commented the loss following the match:
?We had all of the ball in the first-half but still we came in one-nil down and lost the game.
?We simply didn?t take our chances tonight and it seems every little mistake we make this season is getting punished.
?When you play the Sharks you have to take your chances because they can hurt you, but we gifted them a couple here when some of the guys switched off.
A relieved Sharks? coach Brian Brown commented:
?It was a disappointing first-half for us from my point of view and all I wanted was to get the lads in the sheds at half-time and get our organisation sorted out.
?Once we sorted that out for the second-half I thought the game belonged to us but Bankstown is no easy team to beat and they posed us plenty of questions tonight but luckily we found the answers.?
Match Stats
Sutherland Sharks 3 (Brad Boardman 45?, 71?, Brendan Gan 68?)
Bankstown City Lions 1 (Robbie Mileski 74?)
Venue: Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Crowd: 1,132
Referee: Ryan Shepherd
Assistants: Adam Dayein, Scott Edelig
Fourth-Official: Adam Weir
Sutherland Sharks: 99. Phillip Zabaks; 15. Michael Katz, 2. George Souris, 39. Neil Jablonski, 6. Shane Lyons, 3. Brendan Gan (38. Michael Robinson 88?), 8. David Huxley, 7. Jim Bakis (37. Jimmy Nikas 90?), 14. Nick Stavroulakis, 22. David Reid, 9. Brad Boardman
Substitutes Not Used: 21. Matthew Brandalise, 20. Jimmy Lawrence, 10. Matt Hall
Yellow Cards: Neil Jablonski 65?, David Huxley 75?
Red Cards: Nil
Bankstown City Lions: 1. Zlatko Joseski; 4. Brett Studman, 5. Richard Luksic, 6. Peter Tsekenis, 7. Stefanos Liavis (99. Chris Godoy Bascurt 83?), 11. Phil Makrys (8. George Nohra 68?), 3. Shane Webb, 16. Tayfun Devrimol, 10. Robert Mileski, 13. Andre Gumprecht, 19. Paul Harries (9. James Monie 71?)
Substitutes Not Used:  2. Ibrahim Haydar, 20. Andrew Bazi
Yellow Cards: Peter Tsekenis 78?, Andre Gumprecht 90?
Red Cards: Nil
Player Ratings:
3 ? Phillip Zabaks (SS)
2 ? Neil Jablonski (SS)
1 ? Shane Webb (BC)
-By Micky Brock