Sydney United 1-1 (7-6 pens.) Sutherland Sharks
Playing on neutral territory due to the poor state of their home stadium at Edensor Park, Sydney United needed penalties to get past a dogged Sutherland side who held out for an hour with ten men.
It was Steve Hayes, United’s player of the season, who provided the first spark of the game after nine minutes; surging through the Sutherland backline, he laid the ball off cleverly to Luka Glavas, whose eventual shot was smothered by Sutherland keeper Nathan Denham. Soon afterwards, Hayes’ powerful shot from the edge of the area rebounded off the far post.
Sutherland began to work their way into the game, and the men from the shire thought they had scored the opener on 20 minutes when Matt Bailey swept home a parried shot from Panny Nikas. Offside was given, but only two minutes later Sutherland were indeed in front.
An intricate Sutherland move on the left saw the ball worked over to Chris Price, who had time to measure a dangerous cross. It was utility midfielder Lachlan Cahill who got on the end of it, and he steered the ball in via the post.
The gave livened up in the succeeding minutes, with Ivo Bosnar and Anthony Golec both going close for United. Sutherland appeared to have weathered the onslaught as the half was drawing to a close, but unexpectedly United levelled the scores with the whistle imminent. Shoving within the area at a United set-piece saw referee Kurt Ams point to the spot, and Glavas tucked away the penalty with typical confidence.
The second half was a stop-start affair. The early period was barren of chances, and Glavas and Hayes making futile attempts to feed on scraps at the edge of the Sutherland area. On the hour, however, the match took a turn in United’s favour when Sutherland right-winger Jim Bakis blatantly elbowed young Anthony Golec, leaving the referee no option but to produce a red card.
With Sutherland pulling all but frontman Pat Savor back in defence, United failed to create any clear chances prior to the full-time whistle. In extra time, it was largely the same story: although Hayes fired a shot just wide from 20 yards and Glavas failed to make the most of an accurate cross from Ben Vidaic, the Sutherland rearguard, ably marshalled by veteran captain George Souris, remained impregnable.
Penalties, unfortunately, it had to be. Souris and Michael Cindric exchanged misses in the opening set of five penalties per side, and when United led 7-6, it was the turn of Sutherland’s promising young defender Hayden Morton to plant the ball on the spot. His shot came back off the crossbar, and United went through to face Sydney Olympic. All is not lost for Sutherland, however; Robbie Stanton’s men will face Blacktown at home next week, with a place in the Grand Final still very much within their grasp.
PREMIER LEAGUE: FINAL SERIES: PRELIMINARY SEMI FINAL: FIRST GRADE: Sydney United 7 Sutherland Sharks 6 Win on penalties (1-1 F/T 1-1 E/T).
GRADE 20: Marconi Stallions 2 APIA Tigers 5.
GRADE 18: Manly United FC 0 Sydney Olympic FC 2.
PREMIER LEAGUE: FINAL SERIES: ELIMINATION SEMI FINAL: FIRST GRADE: Blacktown City FC 2 (Raymond Miller 82m Travis Major 90m) Bonnyrigg White Eagles 1 (Bradley Boardman 50m). GRADE 20: Blacktown City FC 2 Parramatta Eagles 1.
GRADE 18: Blacktown City FC 1 Bonnyrigg White Eagles 3.
DIVISION TWO: FINAL SERIES: MINOR SEMI FINAL: FIRST GRADE: Hakoah FC 2 (N Jablonski 28m J Kosmina 65m) Prospect United 0.
RESERVE GRADE: Hakoah FC 0 Northbridge FC 2.
MAJOR SEMI FINAL: FIRST GRADE: Roosters FC 9 (A Elveren 10/80/84m Own Goal 20m B Akin 30/62m A Taslak 36/68/90m) Northbridge FC 2 (Own Goal 19m R Harding 42m).
RESERVE GRADE: Fairfield Wanderers FC 1 Hawkesbury City 2.
Semi Final 1
3:00 PM Sat 17/Sep
Semi Final 2
3:00 PM Sun 18/Sep