The Sharks travelled to Sydney?s south west on Saturday night, knowing very well that a victory would move them one step closer to a semi finals appearance and in the process, end Bonnyrigg?s dream of a top five finish.
It was the visitors who grabbed the first opportunity of the match courtesy of a runaway Michael Katz on the counter attack.
There was no faulting Katz?s cross, but a high bounce prevented Brad Boardman from latching on to the ball.
But the Sharks didn?t waste any time coming back up field and on this occasion it was Neil Jablonski making his way down the right flank
Jablonski floated a ball across the face of goal, but unfortunately for Sutherland, Panagiotis Nikas? efforts strayed narrowly wide of the post.
It was all one-way traffic in the opening 20? minutes, with Sutherland dominating possession and territory despite failing to trouble the scorers.
The TigerTurf Cup finalists deserved to be in front, but the White Eagles almost snatched a one-goal advantage when Milan Zoric found some space down the right sideline.
Zoric?s cross found a leaping Almir Dizdaric in the six-yard box, but the striker?s header smashed into the cross bar and away from danger.
Sutherland had their chances but desperate scrambling defence by the White Eagles restricted the visitors from a first half lead.
Nikas enjoyed a couple of shots at goal, but new Sydney FC National Youth League keeper Nenad Vekic was up to the task on each occasion.
Just 5? minutes out from the half time whistle, the match erupted with players from both clubs engaging in some push and shove leading up to a Bonnyrigg corner.
The score was locked up at 0-0 at half time and Bonnyrigg knew a draw wouldn?t be enough to save their season.
The home side were quick out of the blocks in the second period and so too was Milorad Simonovic.
The pocket rocket was heavily involved in the opening exchanges, drilling an unsuccessful long-range shot before having his free kick deflected moments later.
Any ascendancy the White Eagles gained at the break was short-lived as Nikas etched his name on to the scoresheet with a goal in the 50? minute.
Bonnyrigg barely had time to re-settle before their season flashed before them, as Nikas supplied Brad Boardman with the ball that ensured the Sharks a 2-0 advantage after 53? minutes.
But the White Eagles showed their fighting spirit and were soon back to within one.
D?Alessandro snatched the ball from the feet of Jim Bakis and regained his composure to curl a beautiful shot past Nathan Denham between the sticks.
The glimmer of hope seemed to spark the White Eagles and their vocal supporters into action, as the home side went in search of quick goals.
Simonovic looked the most threatening to do so, and in the 69? minute was almost rewarded but unfortunately for Bonnyrigg his 25 metre shot powered into the woodwork yet again.
Almir Dizdaric looked like setting up Ilkay Gurbuz with his header through the Sharks defence, but the ball beat Gurbuz as Denham rushed off his line to save the day.
Just when it looked as though the White Eagles would clinch a late equaliser, they suffered the unthinkable.
Both Dizdaric and D?Alessandro received red cards in the space of two minutes, angering the Bonnyrigg faithful.
Forced to play the last 8? minutes with just nine men, Bonnyrigg?s dreams of a semi final berth in their return season to the Premier League was officially over.
Boardman rubbed salt into the wound in injury time, drilling a shot into Vekic, who on the second effort fumbled the ball to allow Boardman to score his second goal and secure a 3-1 victory.
Sutherland coach Robbie Stanton was delighted to move one step closer to a finals berth.
?It was just another very efficient and professional performance by us,? Stanton said.
?We knew they would come out here and want to fight and I said to the blokes get ready for a fight because that is what they want to do, they don?t want us to play.
Despite the Bonnyrigg fans erupting after several refereeing decisions, Stanton didn?t see anything dubious about the calls.
?They [Bonnyrigg] were desperate and they were looking to use any means to get an advantage,? Stanton said.
?You can?t be critical of the referee because there was some silly things going on out there and he decided to clamp down,? he concluded.
But in the opposing dressing room, Bonnyrigg mentor Brian Brown wasn?t so impressed.
?We didn?t seem to get any decisions going our way tonight, it seemed like every decision went against us,? he said.
Despite the heartache of missing out on the finals, Brown was still pleased that his side achieved what they set out to do when he joined the club during the year.
?Our first aim was to avoid relegation, but Cliff [Pointer]? and I set pretty high standards so we expected to be in the playoffs but that?s not going to happen so it?s disappointing.?
Brown looks certain to be at the helm next year and hasn?t hidden the fact that there will be changes to the squad that takes the field in 2010.
?We will look to build a team for next year and put our team on the park instead of somebody else?s.?
Bonnyrigg White Eagles (Mark D?Alessandro 58?)
Sutherland Sharks 3 (Panagiotis Nikas 50?, Brad Boardman 53?, 90?+3?)
Venue: Bonnyrigg Sports Club, Bonnyrigg.
Saturday, July 25, 2009
Crowd: Approx 700
Referee: Kris Griffith-Jones
Assistant Referees: Christian Mehl, Matt Colquhoun
Fourth Official: Andrew Brown
Bonnyrigg White Eagles: 1.Nenad Vekic; 2. Paul Cotte, 3.Graeme Forbes (8.Daniel Willoughby 70?), 5.Mark D?Alessandro, 15.Steven Bozinovski, 11.Almir Dizdaric, 12.Andre Gumprecht, 17.Milorad Simonovic, 18.Tayfun Devrimol (6.Ilkay Gurbuz 67?), 14.Domenic Cutri, 20.Milan Zoric
Substitutes Not Used: 23.Ali Akbal, 7.Aleks Tomic, 9.Emmanuel El Ali
Yellow Cards: Mark D?Alessandro 16?, 83?, Almir Dizdaric 45?+1?, 82?, Ilkay Gurbuz 75?
Red Cards: Almir Dizdairc 82?, Mark D?Alessandro 83
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham; 2.George Souris, 6.Chris Price, 11.Ben Spruce, 4.Michael Robinson, 15.Michael Katz, 14.Nick Stavroulakis, 23.Panagiotis Nikas, 7.Jim Bakis, 9.Brad Boardman, 18.Neil Jablonski
Substitutes Not Used: 10.Matthew Hall, 8.Nathan Ralph, 17.Jordon Nikolovski, 22.Manni Fragogiannis, 13. Andrew Smith
Yellow Cards: George Souris 83?
Red Cards: Nil
-By Michael Chammas