Sharks down Saints in NPL pre-season

By Corinthian (Paul Green):


Sunday 2 February, 2014 – Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda


Sutherland Sharks FC 1 (Adamos Pierettis 18′)

St George Saints FC 0


The pre-season competition got under way at Seymour Shaw Park on a sunny Sunday evening, one of six matches taking place on the same day, two others being played in this Pool 1, which comprises these two clubs plus Rockdale City Suns, APIA Leichhardt, Blacktown City Demons and Manly United.

Pool 2 includes Sydney United, Marconi, Sydney Olympic, Blacktown Spartans, Wollongong and Bonnyrigg White Eagles.

The winners of each group will meet in a one-off Final at the conclusion of the five-game group stage.

Newly promoted St George were familiar foes for Sutherland and with both now back in the same division there are expectations that old rivalries will be renewed, if not re-ignited. This was a nice way to lift the curtain on first-team action for the 2014 new-look teams.

Neither side was at full strength, using this chance to see how some new triallists fitted in, after some long and arduous training sessions.

St George, for instance, had undergone some intense conditioning sessions over a seven-week period, with less emphasis on ball-work as on getting into shape for their return to the top tier.

Epitomising this was long-time midfield and defensive linchpin, Mirko Jurilj, who has played at the highest level with many clubs, including Blacktown City and St George in the past, but who had been out of football for 18 months, while assuming a coaching role with the Saints’ junior teams.

Jurilj and his coach, Manny Spanoudakis, were not sure how the veteran’s ambitious return to action would pan out, but the player was the first to accept the punishing pace set by the club’s fitness guru.

“I’ve lost 12 kilos since I started back with the team and it was pretty hot out there today, but I got through it, OK,” the silky-skilled utility player observed at the end of a game his side came out of with some credit, following a narrow 1-0 loss to the Sharks.

Spanoudakis was optimistic before the game and satisfied after it was all over.
“Mirko has been one of the best trainers since we started off again and has never missed a session, but we’ll have to see how he copes playing at this level again after his long break.

“He’s 40 now, so it doesn’t get any easier, even for someone as polished a professional as he is.
After the match the coach, who got the team promoted last season, seemed happy with how it all went.

“We’ve got three important players to come back yet and we played some triallists today. We needed to look at them under competitive match conditions. I feel we did well today; we created as many chances as they did and I think ours were of higher quality than theirs, if I may say so.

“Our budget is not what theirs is, so we have to make do with what we have to build a team, but I do feel we can be competitive on the basis of what we saw today.

“We may not make the Final, but we’ll do alright, I believe.

Both goalkeepers were called upon several times to make crucial saves in a game played at a pace conducive to the oppressive conditions.

Sutherland scored the only goal of the game after 18 minutes, a low shot, from 30 yards out, by Adamos Pierettis, surprising Saints’ keeper, Dion Shaw, as it squirmed beyond his grasp as he tried to stoop to claim it on his goal-line.

St George responded almost immediately, David Talevski, showing some good mobility as he raced into the six-yard box, after a swift counter-attack, to try and fire St George level, but Sharks’ keeper, Andrew Depta, was at his best to save with his feet, at close range.

Nathan Elasi, for the Sharks, took only two minutes more to test the Saints’ number 1, Shaw, drawing the save from the keeper, before blasting the rebounding ball into the side-netting.

In the 29th St George almost got Talevski into a scoring position again, when the speedy Alex Jovovic dashed down the right and sent over a delightful low cross into the box, where his team-mate once again saw the Sharks’ keeper handy with his legs to stave off a likely equaliser.

Pierettis nearly doubled the Sutherland lead in the 31st but at the far post, on the right, his left-footed volley certainly looked a superb finish until everyone spotted a raised assistant’s flag ruling it offside.

In the 34th another good piece of work by Jovovic saw Juan Chavez, this time, run through to confront Depta, his powerful volley from six-yards looking all over a goal until the keeper leaped superbly to tip the effort over the bar.

The second-half remained scoreless although plenty of chances were created by both sides, but as legs began to tire and the heat to take its toll, the coaches started rotating players, some coming off to return later, the veteran Jurilj one of them, but the close contest augers well for both clubs as they seek honours as neighbourhood rivals after a break of a few years.

Sutherland coach, Robbie Stanton, has a settled squad and that always counts for a lot, while the Saints naturally needed to strengthen after their success in the lower division last season.

Here Sutherland had new signing Matthew Sim, recruited from Manly United, on show and he was always prominent, mostly on the right of central midfield, tackling with venom and spraying passes around to good effect.

Sutherland captain, Nick Stavroulakis, was very much a midfield general, rarely getting very far forward, Pani Nikas doing much of the hard graft up front, with another old hand, Jamie McMaster, always to the fore as well.

A good opening match to clear out the cobwebs, it must be said.

Match details:

Crowd: tba

Sutherland ‘Sharks’ FC: Andrew Depta (gk); Perry Moustakis (Nick Littler +55′), Michael Stewart (John Koulizakas +70′), Jarrod Benham (Jayden McLeod +77′), Matthew Gordon; Nathan Elasi, Matthew Sim, Nick Stavroulakis (c); Adamos Pierettis, Jamie McMaster (Jordan Roberts +70′), Pani Nikas (Christopher McStay +55′)

(Interchange utilised after initial substitutions)
Substitutes not used: Nil

Coach: Robbie Stanton

St. George ‘Saints’ FC: Dion Shaw (gk); David Dascal, Adel El Jamal (Bruno Pivato +46′), Costa Andricopoulos, Bill Tsanidis; David Cain, George Codrea (Fodey Kamara +46′), Mirko Jurilj (Chris Gomez +46′); Alex Jovovic, David Talevski (Johnathan Kontalis +46′), Juan Chavez (c)

(Interchange utilised after initial substitutions)
Substitutes not used: Nil

Coach: Manny Spanoudakis

Red Cards: Nil

Referee: Ben Abraham

BOTN players to note: Adamos Pierettis (SS), David Talevski (SG), Andrew Depta (SS), Adel El Jamal (SG), Alex Jovovic (SG), Matthew Gordon (SS)

By Corinthian (Paul Green)