The former Socceroo was unlucky not to make a clear cut chance for his endeavours on an evening when he simply rolled back the years and showed all his poise, class and trickery in helping the visitors secure the draw when three points beckoned.
Milicic commented: ?I feel like it?s two points lost and not one gained,? he said afterwards.
In a match that started at breakneck speed, and with both sides missing key members from their respective line-ups, if anyone thought this was going to a non event they clearly didn?t look at the history of this fixture in recent seasons and the combatants taking part.
However it was the Sharks who bit first when in the 8? minute Jimmy Bakis sent in an innocuous looking free-kick that managed to find its way through a sea of bodies and nestle into the back of the net with Vedran Janjetovic totally unsighted and wrong footed. Bakis has, and will, hit sweeter efforts without such fortune during this campaign but fortune favours the brave.
With United reeling from this setback it was still somewhat unbelievable that the Sharks again struck 3? minutes later when Nathan Ralph set off on a dizzying run down the right and beating three United defenders before sending over a tantalising cross which was met by Matt Hall to head home unmarked which beggared belief with such tall timber at the back for the visitors in captain Joe Vrkic and Damon Collina in the heart of defence. In fact, Hall was certainly in contention for ?Man of the Match? honours until other matters took their course for his running, battling and dogged determination.
Sutherland had what was believed to be a commanding lead though after much soul searching, Sydney United got back into the game when Luka Glavas netted from the spot after just 13? minutes of play when Sharks captain George Souris was adjudged to have handled in the box.
It was an electric start to the match and most evident the pace couldn?t possibly continue for the full 90?minutes and as United began to soar into the ascendancy it was a surprise they were not back on level terms sooner with Glavas having several more chances but none so flashy as the bicycle kick he attempted on the half hour that was only marginally misjudged. David Zdrilic then saw his glancing header narrowly wide of the post not long after.
It was a combination of Zdrilic, again with a header, who set up Milicic for a chance that was blocked bravely only for the ball to fall at the feet of Dominic Rossi some 25-yards out; but his effort was way wide of the mark as he had only the opportunity to snatch at the chance.
The Sharks still led at the break and some stern talking must have taken place in the sheds at half-time as United emerged like a bat out of hell for the second stanza having to bring on Davor Bajsic to replace the injured Sam Munro who combined in a linking move that produced a scuffed shot by Glen Trifiro that could easily have found the net if hit cleanly.
The home defence held out magnificently under an almost constant barrage by United as Souris, as ever, led from the front but Michael Robinson once again turned hero on more than one occasion when putting his body on the line in defence of the home side?s lead.
It was luck that kept the visitors out in the 54? minute when Glavas ran on to a through ball and hit a cross shot back toward the goalkeeper?s right hand post with Nathan Denham beaten only to see it glance back into play off the upright and inches wide of Mitchell Thompson following in.
The signs were there that United were in no mood to leave empty handed and all the hard work came to nought on 55? minutes when Milicic produced a goal of such quality it must surely be part of the ?Goal of the Season? highlights package. The ball came out to the striker on the edge of the box and he showed his experience by powerfully placing his shot through the crowded defence leaving Denham no chance and levelling the game.
The Sharks were not sitting back and indeed had two goals disallowed but the bitterest pill was still to be swallowed when in the 90? minute Neil Jablonski was felled in the box by Collina and referee Kurt Ams had no qualms in pointing straight to the spot.
Jablonski took the spot kick himself but Janjetovic was equal to the effort and flung himself to the right to parry the effort and retain parity on the night.
A reflective Robbie Stanton, coach of the Sharks, said afterwards:
?If you had offered me a point before the game I would have taken it but with the penalty and disallowed goals the three would have been nice.
?That?s three draws out of four games now but I am not disappointed by the way the team played and the matches we?ve drawn are what has to be considered as against three of the top five sides you would imagine and after a game like this one we won?t fear any side in this competition.
?I?m over the moon with the way the guys played tonight and there are too many who played fantastically well to single anyone out.
?We?ll take this point and move forward from here.?
Ante Milicic was somewhat less enthralled by the result when stating:
?We were slow to get out of the blocks tonight and effectively we started the game at 2-nil down as we conceded two very early goals.
?We created the better chances and showed good character to come back especially when you consider the young lads we had out there tonight and the fact that we have what I would consider to be five first team regulars out injured.
?It?s no secret I have very high standards and expect the same from my players and tonight they showed that but we hit the woodwork twice and on another night we would be leaving with all the points.?
Sutherland Sharks 2 (Jim Bakis 8?, Matt Hall 11?)
Sydney United 2 (Luka Glavas 13?, Ante Milicic 55?)
Saturday, 21st March, 2009
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Referee: Kurt Ams
Assistant Referees: Brett Woodford and Wayne Lenardon
Fourth Official: Miles Allen-Scott
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham; 2.George Souris, 4.Michael Robinson, 7.Jim Bakis (98.Blake Powell 68?), 8.Nathan Ralph, 10.Matthew Hall, 11.Ben Spruce, 12.Neil Jablonski, 15.Michael Katz, 19.Matthew Villazon (33.Ryan Emerton 90?+3?), 23.Panagiotis Nikas
Substitues Not Used: 22.Yanni Fragogiannis, 17.Jordan Nikolovski, 20.Huseyin Jasli
Yellow Cards: Matt Hall 15?, Jim Bakis 65?
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney United: 1.Vedran Janjetovic; 4.Milan Bosnar, 5.Damon Collina, 6.Joe Vrkic, 19.Mitchell Thompson, 45.Sam Munro (12.Davor Bajsic 46?), 21.Dominic Rossi (16.Elsid Barkhousir 61?), 18.Glen Trifiro (24.Andrija Petkovic), 9.David Zdrilic, 10.Ante Milicic, 11.Luka Glavas
Substitutes Not Used: 2.Ricky Perinich, 30.Michael Frost
Yellow Cards: Mitchell Thompson 20?
Red Cards: Nil
3 ? Michael Robinson (SS)
2 ? Ante Milicic (SU)
1 ? Matt Hall (SS)
-By Micky Brock