Sharks on the rise as Manly stutter


The normally tough uncompromising United took command in the early exchanges but were limited to long-range efforts and half-chances as the solid Sharks midfield and defence gave no leeway to making the byline to send over telling crosses. After 10? minutes, the visitors began to relinquish their early midfield promise as the home side assuredly regained control and never looked back.
It was the Sharks who came closest to opening the scoring with Jimmy Bakis pulling the strings as first Nikas had a shot well saved by Brad Swancott before Ben Vidaic miss hit a shot straight at the goalkeeper. It was Nikas however who once more showed composure and quick thinking when attempting a bicycle kick from yet another Bakis corner that Swancott did well to save down low.
In fact, if Swancott hadn?t been in such fine form, it could have been well and truly over before the half-time whistle. In the 14th minute it was Vidaic who spun on the edge of the box and hit a fierce low shot toward the near post that again the goalkeeper was well positioned to keep out. Swancott was powerless though when a Chris Price free-kick was volleyed by Vidaic who had the United custodian well beaten only to see the effort rise over the crossbar.
Probably the best chance of the half came when Blake Powell stole the ball inside his half and sprinted forward, forcing Swancott some 35-yards out from the line to save bravely at the feet of the advancing winger without the use of his hands, by spreading himself on the floor to clear the danger when the slightest touch would have seen Powell beyond the ?keeper and a certain goal.
It was all Sutherland by now and Bakis saw an effort swerve the wrong side of the post before Manly had their first real chance on goal when Adam Foti glanced an effort just wide of the near post from a Roberto Hamad centre. The latter saw his 25-yard shot fly over the crossbar moments later but it flattered to deceive in a very uncharacteristic display from the visitors.
The half completed and goal-less, it was a toss up as to who the happier coach would be with Robbie Stanton?s side creating their best half of football, probably, this season without scoring or Phil Moss? side who had countered the barrage to go in at the break on level terms.
Manly started brightly in the opening minutes of the second period but couldn?t find a route to goal as Moss replaced Foti with Brad Groves just 5? minutes in.
It wasn?t long before the parity was broken when a sweeping passing move saw Bakis lay off to Powell who in turn slipped it for Price to cross to be met by Nikas who turned one way, spun the other and fired home after 57? minutes that had Manly chasing the match.
Vidaic gave up the ball in midfield to Jimmy Oates who scampered off down the flank and centred for Robbie Cattanach, although slightly over hit, meant the United striker couldn?t reach the ball to nod home.
Luke Casserly, in is first game back after injury, was the next to be replaced when bringing on Luke Walker and the substitute nearly gifted Sutherland their second 2? minutes later when Nikas stole the ball from the defender near the halfway line and set off toward goal. With Vidaic galloping alongside to his right, and Walker trying to atone for his mishap, the ball was played perfectly to Vidaic who struck powerfully on goal only to see Swancott pull off yet another amazing save at full stretch and keep his side just the one down.
It mattered little 4? minutes later when Bakis provided an inch-perfect cross from the right that Nikas, unmarked inside the area, had the simplest of headers to make it two-0 on the night.
From then on it was a procession of chances for Sutherland and only a matter of time before a third was added, and it came from a Price free-kick after Hamad was cautioned for a foul on Nikas.
Manly showed glimpses of quality but were well beaten on the night by a Sharks side that have now strung two consecutive wins together for the first time this season.
Manly coach Phil Moss was unavailable after the match but Sharks coach Robbie Stanton said: ?We?ve made a few adjustments in recent weeks and it?s now starting to pay off and tonight we did it as a team but we won?t get carried away as it?s only three-points.
?We played well and I?m happy with the points as it was a tough game which is something you always expect from a Phil Moss side and a Manly United team but I feel we matched that here.
?They are a tough uncompromising team and we know it wasn?t their most experienced side out there tonight but we expected a close game as it usually is between the two of us so to score three is a bonus as there is only a goal in it in recent encounters.?  
The Grade-20 match finished with Sutherland Sharks taking the points after a 2-0 win.
Match Stats
Sutherland Sharks 3 (Panni Nikas 57?,69?, Blake Powell 81?)
Manly United 0
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Referee: Peter Vrtkovski
Assistant Referees: Daniel Dewhurst and Lee Corey
Fourth Official: Steven Lucas
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham; 2.George Souris, 4.Michael Robinson, 6.Chris Price, 7.Jimmy Bakis, 8.Blake Powell (31.Hussein Jasli 89?), 9.Ben Vidaic (11.Ben Spruce 79?), 12.Neil Jablonski, 14.Nick Stavroulakis, 22.Yianni Fragogiannis, 23.Pani Nikas (16.James Lawrence 82?)
Substitutes Not Used: 30.Misha Hardwick, 24.Jack Duncan
Yellow Cards: Price 62?
Red Cards: Nil
Manly United FC: 1.Brad Swancott; 2.Shaun Bowden, 3.Roberto Hamad, 6.Luke Casserly (15.Luke Walker 61?), 7.Andrew Mailer, 8.Keith Shevlin, 9.Robbie Cattanach, 11.Adam Foti (19.Brad Groves 50?), 16.Joey Schirripa, 17.Jimmy Oates, 22.Joey Gibbs (12.Justin Hayward 68?)
Substitutes Not Used: 10.Craig Midgley, 20.Rhyss Keane
Yellow Cards: Hamad 81?
Red Cards: Nil
Player Ratings:
3 ? Jim Bakis (SS)
2 ? Panni Nikas (SS)
1 ? Neil Jablonski (SS)
-By Micky Brock