Superb Sutherland seal Waratah Cup win over APIA-Leichhardt Tigers


Played with their foot on the accelerator from the opening exchanges, the Sharks gave the Tigers very little in a dominant display that saw Robbie Stanton?s men score four goals in the 4-1 romp.
Chris Price and Matt Bailey each scored for Sutherland in the opening half ? in almost identical fashion ? before the Sharks added another two goals in a fine second-half showing courtesy of Blake Powell and Panni Nikas. The Tigers consolation arrived via Adel El Jamal.
Sutherland welcomed back George Souris from injury for this match, and the experienced campaigner did not disappoint with a sensational man of the match showing. Souris was organised and unyielding in defence, and his leadership on the park certainly played a huge part in the Sharks triumph.
Somewhat surprisingly, the Tigers were flat after going 0-2 down midway through the opening half, and despite the usual fine displays of Franco Parisi and Adam D?Apuzzo, the side was unable to get back into the encounter.
Sutherland created the first opening for the afternoon with Hayden Morton using his speed on the right to get to the byline. The youngster played an equally impressive cut back ball into the path of Blake Powell who, under immense pressure from his marker, failed to divert his attempt on target.
APIA-Leichhardt?s response arrived via a set-piece on 4? minutes. Adam D?Apuzzo?s centre was partially cleared by the Sharks defenders, though Andrew Bevin?s first-time shot failed to cause Nathan Denham any concern.
The Tigers kept pressing 2? minutes later as Adam Casey showed his pace with a powerful counter down the right. The striker played the part of the provider with a pin-point cross onto the head of Mun-Soo Gil who headed his attempt wide of goal.
The lively opening by both sides saw both sets of players looking to get forward early, and it was the team from Seymour Shaw that found the opening goal of the afternoon on 7? minutes.
Powell?s lightning speed down the left saw the attacking midfielder beat his marker with ease before cutting the ball into the path of Chris Price who side-footed his first time effort past Anthony Costa.
In the 16? minute, after succumbing to some fierce Sharks pressure in midfield, D?Apuzzo created an opening on the edge of the penalty-area. The talented midfielder used his strength and finesse on the ball to round his marker before driving his attempt on goal inches wide of the mark.
The Tigers continued to press with Michael Hawrysiuk and Bevin combining on the right to release the former on goal. The APIA-Leichhardt number 16 played a powerful low-driven cross into the penalty-area though the ever impressive Souris was on hand to thwart any danger.
On 21? minutes, the Tigers squandered a glorious chance to draw level. Some fine build up play from the left by APIA saw the ball fall to Hawrysiuk. Despite claims of offside by the Sharks players, the Tigers midfielder brought the ball down though failed to hit the target from close-range.
The miss proved costly as Sutherland doubled its lead at the other end 2? minutes later.
In almost identical fashion as the opening goal, the Sharks breached the Tigers rearguard down the left to find the back of the net. Chris Price?s delivery from the left fell into the path of Bailey, who with a leg injury and with his last involvement in the match, slotted the ball home past Costa.
Bailey?s exit from the match saw Panni Nikas thrown into the mix by Robbie Stanton, meanwhile the Tigers too were forced into making a tactical adjustment with playmaker Franco Parisi taking the place of Gyu Ree Lee.
On 34? minutes, Nikas showed all his skill and finesse on the ball with an exquisite ball to release Powell through on goal. The speedster got to the ball first to go one-on-one with Costa, though the young shot-stopper made himself big to produce a tremendous save down to his left.
Despite the Tigers? ambitions to get the ball forward in search of a goal to re-open the contest, it was the midfield pairing of Nick Stavroulakis and Yianni Fragogianis that had the Sharks in control of proceedings.
APIA-Leichhardt?s afternoon took a further turn for the worse on 40? minutes when Mark Byrnes fouled Powell inside the penalty-area, leaving referee Kris Griffiths-Jones with no choice but to award a penalty.
Nikas stepped up to the spot and delivered a sublime chipped ?Pirlo-esque? penalty down the middle of the goal, though the goal was disallowed as a number of players entered the penalty-area.
In somewhat harsh circumstances for the playmaker, his second attempt saw the ball finish wide of goal, much to the relief of the Tigers? players and supporters.
Despite holding a two-goal lead Sutherland continued to press for a third, and Robbie Stanton?s men very nearly found it when Fragogianis? well-driven effort hit Costa?s right-hand post in the final minute of the half.
Following the break, Parisi very nearly re-opened the contest with a long-range drive that only just finished over Denham?s crossbar.
Sutherland?s response at the other end arrived via a Nikas set-piece delivery. The playmaker?s cross from the left had the APIA-Leichhardt defenders on the back foot, though Costa was on hand to claim the ball and release his players forward.
The experienced George Souris continued to show his colours with an impeccable start to the second-half. The Sharks captain was not only brilliant in defence though immense in starting his side?s forward forays.
Sutherland?s perseverance in the front-third paid dividends in the 56? minute with the side?s third ? and arguably, most impressive ? goal of the afternoon.
Started by Stavroulakis, the midfielder played an intricate one-two with Nikas before delicately sending Powell through on goal to slot home past Costa with a fine side-footed attempt.
APIA?s reply was tame in the attacking third, as the side failed to find cohesion with their passing up front. A free-kick from the right-flank nearly found a Tigers head, though the ball finished over the crossbar.
On 68? minutes, Casey tried his luck with a rather ambitious attempt for the Tigers. The former A-League striker lined-up his attempt nicely, though failed to get a hold on the ball with his shot finishing well wide of the intended target.
Tigers? midfielder Mun-Soo Gil tried his best to curl an attempt around Denham from the edge of the penalty-area on 77? minutes though the shot-stopper made an exceptional save before making way for substitute goalkeeper Simon Jaeger to take the field for the closing 11? minutes of the match.
Sutherland added a fourth goal in tremendous style following another well-worked move. Matt Gordon?s fine ball into the path of Nikas allowed the playmaker to turn and face goal before neatly driving the ball past Costa into the back of the net.
APIA-Leichhardt went close to pulling a goal back via Parisi?s well taken free-kick. The Tigers number 10 hit it well, and the ball seemed destined for the top corner, though captain courageous George Souris once again put his body on the line to thwart the attempt.
The Tigers did find a consolation goal 3? minutes from the end, and it arrived via Adel El Jamal. The robust central defender found himself in the Sharks penalty-area for a Tigers corner. A loose ball fell into the path of El Jamal as he was making his way back into position, and with a nice turn and equally impressive shot, El Jamal beat Jaeger
Despite the slight setback in the closing stages, the afternoon belonged to Sutherland Sharks, whose captain George Souris deservedly held the Cup up over his head following the match.
Victorious coach Robbie Stanton was ecstatic with the win, though is still aware that the objective of playing finals football still needs to be worked towards:
?Today?s performance was wonderful, that is what we have been working towards all year and I am really pleased for the boys, who all worked very hard today,? Stanton commented.
?We have insisted on keeping our football system in order, and some of our results have not been good, though on a day like today where the performance came together and we got it right, we showed just how strong of a team we can be.
?We need to keep working on our system, on our philosophy, and as we saw today, we can really turn it on.
?We didn?t have a good game last week against Manly United, and I thought we were flat and heavy. We only trained twice this week, I tried to change things up a little and give the boys a bit more extra time to recover, and today
Asked about the influence of captain courageous George Souris, Stanton expressed his admiration for his team?s leader on the field:
?George has been ready for about a week to play, and to be honest I am not surprised by how well he played. I knew he could do the job today.
?George is a player that brings so much to the other players on the field with his experience, his vocal abilities and also the confidence he gives to the others. George is the advocate of pushing our football philosophy, and he does all of this playing well at the same time,? Stanton ended.
Out of the APIA-Leichhardt Tigers change room, Franco Parisi was obviously disappointed with the final result:
?I think in any Final the first goal is critical, and their first goal came a few seconds after we missed a header at the other end and they then really managed to settle with some good organisation across the park,? explained Parisi.
?They were composed and moved the ball well, constantly wearing us out and of course, the team with less possession is going to look flatter.
?Credit to Sutherland, the first goal was critical in deciding how the game would unfold.
?I thought the first 10? minutes were positive for us, though as the match wore on, it just seem to get further away from us.
The Tigers number 10 was somewhat surprisingly left out of the starting line-up, though Parisi was his lively self when he took to the field as the Tigers attentions now turn to reaching the top-five to play finals football in the League this season:
?When the coach needs me to play, I am ready to go. I follow his orders on the pitch, and I think he wanted to use me more as an impact player today.
?Unfortunately, the match didn?t start the way we wanted, and I guess we needed to change a number of things to chase the match.
?We still have every chance of playing in the finals, so we need to bounce back after the loss today and look to collect as many points as possible to finish as high up the ladder as we can ? I am confident with the players we have that we can get a few positive results to get us going and challenge to reach the finals,? concluded Parisi.
Match Stats
APIA-Leichhardt Tigers 1 (Adel El Jamal 87?)
Sutherland Sharks 4 (Chris Price 7?, Matt Bailey 23?, Blake Powell 56?, Panni Nikas 84?)
Sunday 8th July, 2012
Cromer Park, Cromer
Referee: Kris Griffiths Jones
Assistant Referees: Adam Coombes and Mike Robinson
Fourth Official: Adam Susz
APIA-Leichhardt Tigers: 21.Anthony Costa; 2.Mark Byrnes, 4. Mun-Soo Gil, 5.Michael West (C), 6.Danial Cummins (3.Adel El Jamal 46?), 7.Stephen Kayes (18.Brendan Reilly 87?), 8.Adam D?Apuzzo, 12.Andrew Bevin (15.Bradley Bartels 74?), 14.Adam Casey, 16.Michael Hawrysiuk, 20.Gyu Ree Lee (10.Franco Parisi 28?)
Substitutes Not Used: 22.David Bradasevic
Yellow Cards:  Adam D?Apuzzo 28?, Michael Hawrysiuk 48?, Franco Parisi 72?
Red Cards: Nil
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham (22.Simon Jaeger 79?); 2.George Souris (C), 4.Yanni Fragogianis, 5.Paul Cotte, 6.Matthew Gordon, 8.Chris Price, 9.Hussein Salameh (40.Todd Halloran 64?), 10.Matt Bailey (23.Panni Nikas 24?), 12.Hayden Morton, 14.Nick Stavroulakis, 19.Blake Powell (13.Nikolas Tsattalios 71?)
Substitutes Not Used: 3.Tyson Rhodes
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil

Official Player Ratings
A.P.I.A. Leichhardt Tigers:
1.Anthony Costa ? 6 ? Costa appeared comfortable in the air yet was twice beaten with low finishes while exposed. Did produce a crucial block to deny Blake Powell in the first half and was by far the busier of the two custodians throughout the match.
2.Mark Byrnes ? 6 ? Byrnes produced a brave sliding block to deny Hussein Salameh in the first half yet mistimed a challenge on Powell to concede a penalty soon after, which he must have been relieved to see flash wide of the post from Nikas? second attempt. His physical presence nearly drew reward from a second half corner, however Byrnes could not keep his header down.
4.Mun-Soo Gil ? 6 ? Gil flashed an early header just wide of Nathan Denham?s goal ? how different this match could have been had he produced a clinical finish. Gil had a quiet afternoon on the pitch.
5.Michael West ? 7 ? Always a strong presence and a solid leader for his side, West did well to physically deal with Hussein Salameh throughout the match yet was often beaten for pace.
6.Danial Cummins ? 5 ? Cummins was regularly exposed in the first half which resulted in his early withdrawal as John Turner brought him off during the interval for El Jamal.
7.Stephen Kayes  ? 5 ? Charged with the task of dealing with Blake Powell, Kayes regularly came off second best and twice saw his side concede in the first half after being exposed on the right side of defence.
8.Adam D?Apuzzo  ? 7 ? D?Apuzzo confidently pulled strings in midfield for his side and brought his team mates into the game with great vision and accurate passing. He provided Michael Hawrysuik with a glorious opportunity in the first half with an inch-perfect lobbed throughball that deserved a much better finish, while also setting up Adel El Jamal for their late consolation goal.
12.Andrew Bevin ? 6 ? Usually a lively performer, Bevin was well contained by the experience of George Souris and found little space on the pitch. When he did find space he did well to hold up the ball and provide opportunity for his colleagues, however was largely ineffectual overall before being substituted for Brad Bartels in the second half.
14.Adam Casey ? 7 ? Casey created a lot of space for himself on the right flank and often found a route past Matthew Gordon. His hard work went without reward despite a number of brilliant deliveries.
16.Michael Hawrysuik ? 6 ? Worked hard in the centre of the park and produced fairly accurate passing yet his shooting was wayward as he fired a golden opportunity well over in the first half.
20.Gyu Ree Lee ? 5 ? Ree Lee had little time to make an impact and failed to do so in his time on the pitch before he was withdrawn in the first half for Franco Parisi.
3.Adel El Jamal ? 7 ? On as a half time substitute, El Jamal?s physical presence strengthened his side?s last line of defence yet there was little he could do to prevent Sutherland from continuing their scoring feats. El Jamal produced a powerful finish from the edge of the box to provide late consolation for his side.
10.Franco Parisi ? 7 ? Brought on as a substitute in the first half, Parisi was handed the daunting task of getting his side back into the match while staring at the wrong end of a 2-0 scoreline. He came close to pulling a goal back early in the second period.
15.Bradley Bartels ? 5 ? Bartels came on for Andrew Bevin in the second half yet had little time to make an impact.
18.Brendan Reilly ? 5 ? Reilly came on as a late substitution and only saw a few minutes of football before the final whistle.
Sutherland Sharks:
1.Nathan Denham ? 7 ? Confident in the air throughout the 90 minutes, Denham was rarely tested yet equal to the task whenever his opposition came at him.
2.George Souris ? 10 ? Souris delivered no less than was expected of him in the centre of defence, marshalling his backline and ensuring A.P.I.A. Leichhardt Tigers had a joyless afternoon in attack. Man of the match performance from the Sutherland captain.
4.Yianni Fragogianis ? 9 ? Fragogianis put in a solid shift in the centre of the park; strong in the tackle and his distribution was second to none. He was unfortunate not to score late in the first half, striking the post from the edge of the box.
5.Paul Cotte ? 8 ? Souris? partner in crime at the back put in a confident and faultless performance to keep his opposition quiet.
6.Matthew Gordon ? 6 ? Gordon was occasionally exposed by Adam Casey on the left side of defence throughout the first half yet managed to limit Casey later in the second half .
8.Chris Price ? 8 ? Price produced an impressive performance in midfield; scoring one and assisting another. His darting runs often caught A.P.I.A. Leichhardt on the back foot as Price played his part in his side?s impressive win.
9.Hussein Salameh ? 7 ? Salameh had a lively performance on the right flank, utilising his speed and agility to constantly test Michael West before coming off in the second half.
10.Matt Bailey ? 7 ? Put in a short yet sweet shift in attack, scoring Sutherland?s second goal of the match midway through the first half seconds before requiring substitution after picking up a knock.
12.Hayden Morton ? 7 ? Always solid at the back and dangerous going forward; Morton?s marking and crossing were his main strong points of the match.
14.Nick Stavroulakis ? 9 ? Stavroulakis put in an industrious performance in the centre of the park. His vision to continually produce accurate long balls was a joy to watch while his assistance in defence also proved useful, his assist for the third Sharks goal was a pleasure to watch.
19.Blake Powell ? 9 ? Powell?s marauding runs down the left flank created chance after chance for Sutherland. Powell set up Price for the opener and grabbed a goal for himself in the second half after a slick passing move before departing as a late substitute.
3.Tyson Rhodes ? 7 ? Rhodes played well during his short second half stint to help his side round out the final result.
13.Nick Tsatallios ? 6 ? With the result practically in the bag by the time of Tsattalios? injection, the substitute had little time to impact the final result.
22.Simon Jaeger ? 5 ? On as a second half substitute for Denham, Jaeger had little to do other than pick the ball out of the back of the net after El Jamal?s consolation strike.
23.Panni Nikas ? 8 ? After making a surprise start on the bench Nikas came on at 2-0 following Bailey?s injury and showed off his sublime talent in his role in the final two goals. Nikas? Pirlo-esque style penalty brought the crowd to its feet, however the missed ordered retake did little to dampen his performance.
40.Todd Halloran ? 6 ? Halloran featured as a late substitute, coming off the bench with the match already won.
-Report by Jospeh Carlucci – Player Ratings by Michael Shoolman