Sutherland Sharks were marginally better in all facets of play and it took a brilliant goal from Nathan Ralph in the second-half to ensure that all three points were heading down to The Shire.
After the game Sharks boss Robbie Stanton was very pleased with his side for their performance against a club where he had spent so many years himself as a player:
?All week the team has been fantastic and I am very happy with everything,? he said.
?Their commitment, their passion, their shape and their structure ? all the things we talked about and all the things we worked on were good.
?I am very happy at the moment, but there are going to be games where things don?t go your way and there will be ones where they do and tonight was one of them because we did all the right things well and worked hard.
?We have some key senior players (Nick Stavroulakis, Bradley Boardman, Jim Bakis) who are always there to do a certain job, we have a second tier of players who almost have enough games to be full senior players, and then we have young players.
?They all do their role and, as a team, we are very good and I don?t like singling out individuals.?
However, it was really a tale of two dressing rooms. Marconi coach Lee Sterrey was most disappointed as was to be expected:
?We?ll certainly need to find ourselves after Easter,? he said.
?We were second to the ball most of the night. Sutherland were passionate enough to pick up every crumb.
?We talked about how they would play with good width ? they are the only other team besides ourselves that play with good width ? and they destroyed us down the right hand side defensively.
?Overall, we lacked passion and desire to push us over the line tonight.?
The opening chance of the game fell to Ralph who broke free from the centre circle and charged towards the Marconi goal in the opening minutes, only to be met by a fantastic diving save from James Chronopoulos who brilliantly turned the ball away for a corner.
Nothing much happened until the 24? minute as both sides seemed intent on eyeing each other in and around the midfield area. Ali Abbas Al-Hilfi?s free-kick from outside the box certainly curled beautifully over the defensive wall, but was well saved by a diving Nathan Denham.
In the 34? minute of play Neil Jablonski swung the ball wide to Ralph on the right, but his finish was just wide of the mark.
However, the Sharks needn?t have worried because a minute later they took the lead when Srecko Mitrovic, on debut in the TeleChoice Premier League after playing a few seasons in Romania, blasted the ball home from just outside the box.
The Marconi defenders were caught napping and the loose ball was not cleared before Mitrovic pounced and there was absolutely nothing Chronopoulos could do to prevent the ball from ending up in the bottom right hand corner of the net.
Just before the break Panny Nikas thought that he would try his luck from distance only to see the ball finish just wide of the goal.
In the second-half the tempo of the game picked up especially as Marconi realised that they required a goal to even the game up.
Kader Toure created two great early chances for Marconi: firstly, a nice through ball found Alexander Canak who didn?t trouble the goalkeeper; and secondly, a brilliant cross that found Ben Vidaic but his header sailed over the crossbar.
Nahuel Arrarte thought that he would try his luck from just outside the box only to see the ball end up agonisingly wide of the mark. It was the story of Marconi?s night and the last real chance they had on goal.
Even a double substitution in the 62? minute by Sterrey failed to change things out in the middle. In fact, one could argue that without Toure on the field Marconi lacked creativity.
In the 68? minute a Michael Katz cross found Matthew Hall dangerously in the box, but he couldn?t control the ball with his head and it narrowly went over.
Ralph scored with a beautiful goal 12? minutes later. Out of nothing he appeared to be attempting a cross from the right, but somehow the ball spectacularly ended up in the back of Chronopoulos? net.
Marconi Stallions 0
Sutherland Sharks 2 (Srecko Mitrovic 35?, Nathan Ralph 80?)
Saturday 5th of April, 2009
Marconi Stadium, Bossley Park
Referee: Sandro Perticarini
Assistant Referees: Nick Backo and Christian Mehl
Marconi Stallions: 22.James Chronopoulos; 2.Wade Oostendorp, 30.Andrea Merenda, 4.Umut Tokdogan (15.Tim McGowan 62?), 6.Vuko Tomasevic, 8.Alexander Canak, 10.Ali Abbas Al-Hilfi (18.Graziano Trimboli 84?), 7.Kader Toure (11.Matt Gordon 62?), 9.Erick Anabalon, 26.Nahuel Arrarte, 13.Ben Vidaic.
Substitutes Not Used: 43. Abel El Jamal, 20. Cem Akili
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham; 2.George Souris, 11.Ben Spruce, 15.Michael Katz, 4.Michael Robinson, 6.Chris Price, 5.Srecko Mitrovic (19.Matthew Villazon 74?), 12.Neil Jablonski, 23.Panny Nikas, 8.Nathan Ralph, 10.Matthew Hall (18.Blake Powell).
Substitutes Not Used: 17.Jordan Nikolovski, 20.Adam Derazka, 22. Adam Faour
Yellow Cards: Jablonski 39?, Mitrovic 55?
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Nathan Ralph (SS)
2 – Panny Nikas (SS)
1 – George Souris (SS)
-By Joe Russo