Blacktown City win in Sharks thriller
Article from www.nswpl.com.au
Blacktown City FC have returned to their winning ways by posting a 4-3 fairytale comeback win over the highly-fancied Sutherland Sharks at their normally impenetrable fortress at Seymour Shaw.
It was always going to be a close encounter given that only goal differential separated their respective positions of second (Blacktown City) and fourth (Sharks) on the IGA NPL NSW Mens 1 competition ladder, and neither team let their fans down throughout the opening stages of the match.
Blacktown City's brilliant start to the season, where they recorded wins in all three of their opening encounters, had taken a bit of a battering in recent weeks following a high-scoring 3-3 draw with the winless APIA Leichhardt Tigers and a 3-1 loss to Manly United just six days earlier, but City looked like they were back to their winning ways after Travis Major opened the scoring in the 5' minute.
As both teams were settling nicely into the game a quick thinking Kearyn Baccus dispossessed Sharks left-back Matthew Gordon after he was delivered a soft pass as the home side attempted to work the ball out from the back. Baccus then tore down the right side and delivered a perfect cross to his captain Major who made no mistake in slotting it past Sharks keeper Nathan Denham.
Major could have had his second in the space of two minutes when he got in behind the flimsy Sharksdefence in the 7' minute, but a brilliant textbook save by the agile Denham diving at full stretch to his left ensured that the Sharks remained in the hunt.
Blacktown City's lead though was short-lived as the Sharks hit back in the 14' minute when a perfectly weighted Panni Nikas free-kick out on the left found the glancing head of the always-reliable Jamie McMaster who found the far corner of the net to level the scores at 1-1 with less than 15' minutes gone on the clock.
With both teams settling into a nice rhythm and playing some end-to-end entertaining football, the deadlock was only broken by the powerful Perry Moustakas in the 40' minute after he latched onto the end of a Nikas corner and slammed the ball into the back of the net to provide the Sharks with the lead for the first time in the game.
Nikas was in the thick of the action on the stroke of halftime when he was brought down heavily on the edge of the box in the 44' minute. Arguably the best exponent of scoring from free-kicks in the league, a fired up Nikas hammered the ball with precision into the far top corner. This ensured that the Sharks would feast on a two goal lead at the break as well as earn him his sixth goal of the year.
The pick of the players in the opening half, Nikas, was both ecstatic and seething during his post-goal celebration and earned the ire of the referee and a subsequent yellow card after physically confronting Blacktown City's Sasa Macura whom Nikas clearly singled out for the heavy challenge only moments earlier.
Blacktown City coach Mark Crittenden must have been seething in the sheds at the intermission and whatever the charismatic mentor said to his troops at the break almost paid dividends in the opening minutes of the second-half when Ryuji Miyazawa almost pegged one back in the 51' minute following a nice cross from out on the right by Danny Choi.
Always the danger man for any opposing side, Miyazawa got in behind his defenders and was unmarked on the far post following Choi's cross only to volley it painfully shy of the post.
In a sometimes spiteful second stanza, where Blacktown City's frustration appeared to be taking its toll at the prospect of not recording a win in its last three rounds after having opened the season withthree-straight victories, the visitors brought a much more physical game to the Sharks throughout much of the second-half.
The Sharks struggled to come to terms with Blacktown City's in-your-face approach and eventually cracked under sustained pressure when a Baccus corner found his captain Major who shrugged off his marker to post his second goal in the 75' minute.
Major secured his hat-trick and his sixth goal of the season in the 83' minute following a well-executed free-kick by Matt Lewis out on the left to again level the scores as the momentum swung heavily in the way of the visitors and their fairytale comeback was complete just two minutes later in the 86' minute when a controversial penalty against Sharks enforcer Nick Littler was converted by Baccus to bring the score to 4-3 where it remained to the final whistle.
Despite the 3-1 deficit at the break Blacktown City coach Mark Crittenden remained firm in his belief that his side was still firmly in the contest.
"Their (Sharks) three goals came from set pieces and I told the boys at halftime that we were well and truly still in it," explained Crittenden.
"Those three set-pieces had us behind the eight ball, but I told them that if we were next to score then we'd win the game and fortunately we did score next and we won the game.
"We made a few little adjustments at the break shape-wise with the intention of pressuring them and that's what we did.
"The whole team really stood up and I was really proud of them all and the guts that they showed was superb.
"Travis my captain was a real inspiration and Zach my co-captain certainly led by example out there tonight."
It was a different story on the other side of the ledger as a bitterly disappointed Sharks coach Robbie Stanton took time out to speak with FNSW shortly after his side's heartbreaking loss.
"When you're winning 3-1 and just capitulate like we did it's tough to take," conceded Stanton.
"Just like last week we had it, but we threw it away. Admittedly we had a few injuries throughout, but they were more determined than us in the second-half so full credit to them as they deserved the win.
"It's exactly the reverse of what we did to them last year, so in a way they just returned the favour tonight.
"A scoreline of 3-1 at the break should be enough to kill a team off, but it wasn't to be as we simply lost our way, we stopped playing, we stopped building and reverted to long balls. A few of our boys went missing and before you know it we're 4-3 down.
The Sharks will need to regroup next weekend as they travel across the harbor and deep into the Northern Beaches next Sunday afternoon as they take on Manly United at Cromer Park, whilst Blacktown City play host to the resurgent Sydney Olympic at Lilys Football Centre - also on Sunday afternoon - in their round seven clash.
Sutherland Sharks 3 (Jamie McMaster 14', Perry Moustakas 40', Panni Nikas 44')
Blacktown City 4 (Travis Major 5', 75', 83', Kearyn Baccus 86' (pen))
Saturday April 19, 2014
Seymour Shaw, Miranda
Referee: Adam Weir
Assistant Referees: Leigh Pigram and Thomas Lee
Fourth Official: Sebastien Brennan
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham; 2.Jacob Tratt, 5.Nicholas Littler, 6.Matthew Gordon, 8.Lukas Stergiou, 9.Nathan Elasi, 10.Jamie McMaster (12.Jordan Figon 46'), 14.Nick Stavroulakis (c), 15.Perry Moustakas (3.Adamos Pierettis) 16.Ethan Galbraith (19.Nicholas Olsen 70'), 23.Panni Nikas
Substitutes Not Used: 22.Andrew Depta, 29.Mitchell Farmer
Yellow Cards: Panni Nikas 44', Nicholas Littler 85', Matthew Gordon 85'
Red Cards: Nil
Blacktown City FC: 1.Nenad Vekic; 3.Giorgio Speranza (18.Daniel Araujo) 4.Yianni Fragogiannis, 6.Matthew Lewis, 7.Travis Major (c), 8.Sasa Macura, 9.Ryuji Miyazawa, 11.Danny Choi, 15.Marco Travaglini, 16.Kearyn Baccus (5.Jacob Poscoliero) 19.Zach Cairncross
Substitutes Not Used: 12.Joel Hardwick, 13.Blake Tuxford
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Travis Major (BCFC)
2 – Panni Nikas (SS)
1 – Danny Choi (BCFC)
-By Gary McDonald, National Premier Leagues NSW Mens 1 Reporter, at Seymour Shaw Park