Sharks win ‘battle of Seymour Shaw’


In a frenetic opening 15? minutes it was the Berries who rallied the only worthwhile effort on goal when Dimitri Zakilas unleashed a goal bound shot that had direction but no real pace before the match settled down into a rhythmic seesaw.
The Sharks had the next chance of note 9? minutes later as a cross-turn-shot from Ben Spruce had Hamish McLean back peddling rapidly before tipping the ball over the bar at the very last moment.
But this was to be no game merely decided on the fickleness of fate and the long awaited return of Brad Boardman on the score sheet had a very happy Sharks crowd on their feet in unison as Neil Jablonski side-stepped the first challenge before setting off on a mazy run toward the penalty-area.
Two Berries defenders edged him out toward the left-hand angle whilst niggling away at his ankles but his inch-perfect cross committed the central defence to come across in cover leaving Boardman to steal in at the back post unmarked and head home from 6-yards with a goal of unrivalled quality and class.
Michael Cunico was given a caution for a late tackle on Ben Spruce that many thought should have seen him sent from the field but it was the Sharks defender who was eventually aided from the pitch with medial ligament damage that could see him out of action for 4-6 weeks, to be replaced by Jim Bakis and a reshuffled pack that saw a new left-wing pairing in Chris Price and Nathan Ralph who linked well together for the remainder of the game.
John Tsironis came close for the visitors in first-half stoppage time with an effort that had Nathan Denham scrambling to turn the ball around the post at full stretch before Panny Nikas picked up a yellow card for kicking the ball away down the other end seconds later.
Boardman was replaced by Matt Hall close to the hour mark in an effort to exploit the Berries who by now were defending higher up the pitch as they sought the equaliser but left themselves vulnerable to the counter attack with the ball over the top and the pace of Hall to latch on to it. The move paid off shortly after as Nikas, who eventually settled the matter with the Sharks second of the evening.
Jimmy Bakis picked the ball up just inside the Berries half and with three defenders closing him down slipped a deft right-foot flick pass out to Michael Katz on the wing who in turn ran at the Berries goal and drew the centre-backs toward him before chipping a delightful cross over for Nikas to head home in the 64? minute. As the ball nestled in the net it was plain for all to see there was no way back for West Sydney who had to be content to play for pride as the game slipped away.
They battled hard but with little or no cohesion seemingly between defence and attack were restricted to many long-range efforts that generally lacked power or direction and posed no great threat to the home side.
The Berries did have one last chance that probably deserved better when Peter Peralta struck a powerful long-range effort from fully 30-yards that dipped and swerved and only just slipped over the bar but the last word went to the Sharks after Matt Hall outstripped his marker and prodded home the third of the night and hand the Berries a very hard lesson on a disappointing outing for the West Sydney side.
John Calleja said afterwards:
?The first 45? minutes were pretty forgettable for us but we opened up in the second-half.
?We didn?t create much and lacked commitment with too many not showing the right attitude.
?We had to push forward to get anything out of the game but we exposed ourselves and left it open to their pace and paid the price.?
A happy, but somewhat subdued, Robbie Stanton quoted:
?Of course I?m happy with the three points but it was sometimes brutal out there. 
?I now have a player (Spruce) sidelined for 4-6 weeks due to a bad tackle and that concerns me.
?They held us well in the first-half but we managed to grind out a result and I thought when they pushed up in the second-half that the pace of Matt Hall could inflict some damage and tonight it paid off but I am very unhappy with the loss of Spruce.
?It?s put a real sour note on the evening.?
In the earlier Grade-20 match it was the same result with the Sutherland Sharks defeating West Sydney Berries 3-0. 
Match Stats
Sutherland Sharks 3 (Brad Boardman 25?, Panny Nikas 64?, Matt Hall 78?)
West Sydney Berries 0
Saturday 18th of April, 2009
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Referee: Atila Stibinger
Assistant Referees: Nick Backo and Scott Edeling
Fourth Official: Tom Klein
Crowd: 764
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham; 2.George Souris, 3.Srecko Mitrovic, 4.Michael Robinson, 6.Chris Price, 8.Nathan Ralph, 11.Ben Spruce (7.Jimmy Bakis 37?), 12.Neil Jablonski, 15.Michael Katz, 9.Brad Boardman (10.Matt Hall 58?), 23.Panny Nikas (98.Blake Powell 80?)
Substitutes Not Used: 17.Jordan Nikolovski, 18.Yianni Fragogiannis
Yellow Cards: Panny Nikas 45?
Red Cards: Nil
West Sydney Berries: 1.Hamish McLean, 4.Adam Wither (Marjan Novotni 73?), 6.Jack Sobczyk, 7.Peter Peralta, 8.Johnny Fotiadis, 5.Michael Cunico (14.Liam Austin 61?), 11.Aheleas Kotsopoulos, 16.Kosta Lagoudakis, 15.Ryan Jones, 19.Dimitri Zakilas, 10.John Tsironis (Eli Squillacioti 76?)
Substitutes Not Used: 22.Trinity Allen, 3.Omar Saadi
Yellow Cards: Michael Cunico 32?, Adam Wither 59?, Jack Sobczyk 75?
Red Cards: Nil
Player Ratings:
3 ? Neil Jablonski (SS)
2 ? Panny Nikas (SS)
1 ? Chris Price (SS)
-By Micky Brock