The Sharks, who were unbeaten over twenty-four matches this season, have lost against two sides battling to avoid the wooden-spoon over the past two weekends ? and ironically, both loses arrived courtesy of coach Brian Brown?s former clubs Blacktown City Demons and Marconi Stallions.
Despite dominating for large parts of the Saturday evening encounter against the Stallions, Marconi managed to soak-up the pressure and hit the League leader on the break ? much to the satisfaction of stand-in coach Luke Casserly.
Jay Lucas made a rare start following a two-and-a-half year absence due to a bout of series injuries. The striker opened the scoring with a close-range header following some great interplay on the right-flank.
After the break, captain Nahuel Arrarte doubled the advantage via the penalty-spot before Tolgay Ozbey showcased his speed, strength and skill to slot home Marconi?s third.
Sutherland had the chance to pull a goal back from the penalty-spot though Stallions? Cem Akilli did exceptionally well to parry Pedj Bojic?s effort.
The Sharks loss was certainly Wollongong FC?s gain as the John Turner coached side took full advantage of the League leader?s slip-up.
Wollongong FC confirmed their fine moment of form with an impressive showing against Blacktown City Demons, moving to within three-points of the Sharks with a match in-hand.
A first-half goal to Ilija Prenzoski opened proceedings before Christopher Price and Steven Hayes completed the 3-0 win.
At Cromer Park, Sydney Olympic defeated an out of sorts Manly United to overtake Phil Moss? side on the League ladder. The Blues have experienced a timely return to form in the run home to the finals-series and performed remarkably well in their 2-0 win.
Chris Triantis? powerful effort from the edge of the area took a wicked deflection off Richard Williams, leaving Manly custodian Brad Swancott helpless as the Blues went one-up.
Matthew Mayora?s good run of form continued after a disrupted season due to injury. The Blues? striker added his side?s second, heading home an Emmanuel Zunino cross from close-range to secure the points.
A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt Tigers? charge for a Top-Five finish continued with a vital 2-0 win against Macarthur Rams.
Despite an even first-half, the Tigers overpowered their luckless opponent in the second period scoring two goals with no reply. Robert Younis converted a 77? minute penalty following a hand-ball inside the penalty-area, before Jamie McMaster scored one of the goals of the season with a first-time strike from the edge of the penalty-area.
Sydney United ensured they kept the Tigers at distance with an emphatic defeat of Penrith-Nepean United at CUA Stadium.
Ivan Petkovic?s side scored twice in each half to take the win.
Without the services of Petar Markovic through injury, captain Joe Vrkic stepped-up to open the scoring inside of the first 10? minutes. Ivo Bosnar added the second prior to the half-time break before the returning Luka Glavas hit two second-half goals to ensure the Reds maintain a two-point lead over A.P.I.A.-Leichhardt with a match in hand.
The disappointing season, culminating in a much indifferent run of home form, of Bankstown City continued. Peter Tsekenis? men suffered another loss, for the second time this season against West Sydney Berries.
The Berries, who were still riding high following their enormous come-from-behind win against Marconi Stallions in Round 19, took the match to their opponents and sealed the win with two first-half goals. Jack Sobczyk and John Tsironis had the Berries ahead, even though the home-side were more than lucky to be trailing by only two goals at the break. In anticipation of the Tiger Turf Cup semi-final this weekend, Bankstown City scored a late goal through Paul Harries to boost some morale, though the job at hand against Bonnyrigg White Eagles will by no means be a straight forward equation.
-By Joseph Carlucci