Blacktown City?s perseverance paid off finally, after a disappointing campaign that has been influenced by a long list of injuries.
Sutherland Sharks again looked to dominate as they have throughout the season to-date, with in-form midfielder David Reid showing his great qualities via a superb effort from 20-metres that was neatly dealt with by Ivan Necevski in the Blacktown City goal.
Blacktown City was on the back-foot in defence as Sharks? forward Bradley Boardman mad himself a nuisance from some dangerous crosses hit by Brendan Gan down the right side, and Shane Lyons down the left.
The Demons couldn?t hold possession in the early stages however Ben Ellis and Chris Bedzo were the stand-outs trying to link-up on the counter-attack to catch the Sharks defenders ball watching, however Pedj Bojic and George Souris held their ground to keep the scores level.
Sutherland?s passing game and quality possession could have opened the scoring in the 15? minute when Sharks midfielder Jim Bakis provided a sensational cross from outside the 18-yard box into Brad Boardman?s path, however despite the ideal delivery Boardman couldn?t get a fierce enough strike on the ball.
It proved costly as Blacktown?s Ben Ellis put his side ahead in the 16? minute. A sensational through ball from Demons midfielder Akwasi Agyei sent Ellis clear in a one-on-one situation with Sharks goalkeeper Phillip Zabaks, Ellis nicely slotted the ball past the shot-stopper?s left to give the home side an important lead.
The goal saw Blacktown grow with momentum as the Sharks began ball watching. Chris Bedzo again was the catalyst proving causing concern for the Sharks rear-guard.
In the 35? minute David Huxley gave cheap possession away in the centre of the park, Akwasi Agyei provided a precise pass into the path of Chris Bedzo who shot goalwards only to be thwarted by a tremendous Phillip Zabaks save.
The Sharks could have been down 2-0 in the second-half when a great ball by Akwasi again found Bedzo, this time to the left side, to find himself one-on-one with Zabaks; however Bojic showed his defending qualities by making a sensational tackle.
In the 48? Chris Bedzo was again in the thick of it, again the Sutherland players were caught ball watching as Bedzo made a clean break down the middle. The youngster?s effort though was disappointing and Zabaks had little trouble claiming the ball.
Despite the dominant quality game shown by the home side, the Sharks were not finished yet – still undefeated at that point in the TeleChoice Premier League.
As the side has proved on many occasions this season, despite not playing at their absolute best, they were back on level terms in the 49? minute. An exquisite Jim Bakis free-kick curled into the top left corner, leaving Necevski helpless and the Sharks back on level terms.
The momentum was shifting both ways, and it showed in the 51? minute when Blacktown City Demons player Tyler Simpson was given his marching orders after a scuffle broke out in the centre of the field following a late challenge by Bojic. However, despite the distraction, the match was headed for a thrilling finish.
In the 56? minute, Sharks substitute Nick Stavroulakis made an immediate impact down the left side providing a looping cross that only just avoided the run of Matthew Hall inside the penalty-area.
In the 62? minute, the Sharks numerical advantage was annulled as Jim Bakis picked up his second yellow card of the game in a ten minute period.
Both sides were dangerous, but Sutherland nearly clinched a goal in the 68? minute, when a great run by Neil Jablonski provided Brendan Gan down the left side before his low cross into the penalty-area met Nick Stavroulakis ? the Sharks number 14 shooting just wide of the left-hand post.
The Sharks perfect record seemed almost certain to be ruined when Chris Bedzo was on-hand to convert from close-range following a failed clearance from a Daniel Wilkinson free-kick.
Confirmation of the Sharks first loss of the season ? and consequently the Demons third win of the campaign – arrived in the 89? minute when a Jesse Pinto cross into the path of Bedzo drew Zabaks off his line. The Sharks shot-stopper collided with team-mate Shane Lyons, as the ball rolled into the back of the net following a touch from Lyons.
Sutherland Sharks boss Brian Brown expressed his disappointment after the match:
?I thought today we were poor, we started with confidence however give credit where it?s due, Blacktown were the better side. I thought that we needed to clear our lines in the late stages, and we lost the game because we lost concentration.
?We can?t play like we did today going into the finals, we have a tough match at Marconi next week and we know that we need to bring ourselves back for that one, playing the way we have been all season will allow us to be able to bring back that winning form?.
Blacktown City Demons 3 (Ben Ellis 16?, Chris Bedzo 76?, Shane Lyons (og) 89?)
Sutherland Sharks 1 (Jim Bakis 49?)
Venue: Gabbie Stadium
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Crowd: 300 approx.
Blacktown City Demons: 1. Ivan Necevski; 3. Paul Karbon, 4. Daniel Wilkinson, 7. Tyler Simpson, 8. Chris Bedzo, 12. Brendan Maroney (Ryan Walsh 31?), 13. Ben Ellis (Ken Chun 46?), 16. Luke Austin, 17. Gavin Forbes, 19. Akwasi Agyei (Jessie Pinto 76?), 29. Matt Lewis
Substitutes Not Used: 9. Bruno Salas, 20. Matt Nemes
Yellow Cards: Ben Ellis 45?
Red Cards: Tyler Simpson 51?
Sutherland Sharks: 99. Phillip Zabaks; 2. George Souris (Matt Hall 56?), 3. Brendan Gan, 4. Pedj Bojic, 6. Shane Lyons, 7.Jim Bakis,8. David Huxley, 9. Brad Boardman (Nick Stavroulakis 56?), 15. Michael Katz, 22, David Reid (Mike Robinson 77?), 39. Neil Jablonski
Substitutes Not Used: 21. Matt Brandalise, 37. Jim Nikas
Yellow Cards: Jim Bakis 59?, 62?, Pedj Bojic 51?
Red Cards: Jim Bakis 62?
3 ? Chris Bedzo (BCD)
2 ? Akwasi Agyei (BCD)
1 ? Pedj Bojic (SS)
-By Johnny Casni