A dank and drizzly afternoon at Landen Stadium didn’t detract from the superlative football produced by Blacktown City and Sutherland Sharks in Round 9 of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition with the hosts running out 2-0 winners.

Mario Shabow opened the scoring in the second-half when side-footing home a volley before setting up Jak O’Brien to tap home inside the 6-yard box with fifteen minutes remaining.

Blacktown City made all the first-half running and fashioned several half-chances but came up against a Sharks’ custodian in fine form in Marko Bulic.

Mitch Stamatellis uncharacteristically gave the ball away to Shabow in the opening minute and the Blacktown striker pulled a wonderful save out of Bulic when tipping it over the bar in a lively opening.

Travis Major sent over a looping cross for Adam Berry to volley narrowly wide as the home side looked to press Sutherland after Bulic again bravely saved at the feet of Shabow.

Bulic was again called into action in the 20th minute when palming out a goalward bound Grant Lynch header.

As if in slow motion, the ball finally came to Major but he sent his diving header wide of the upright in the 37th minute with Sutherland still to register an attempt on goal.

Major attempted an audacious over the shoulder shot in stoppage time but again Bulic was equal to it and got behind the ball well but with no goals at the break.

From the restart it was Jesse Photi who fashioned a shot that Tristan Prendergast covered easily before Major went up the other end and blasted over from distance before firing straight at Bulic moments later.

The deadlock was finally broken by the hosts when Shabow netted to give the home side the lead in the 65th minute with a deft side-foot volley beyond Bulic.

Shabow set up O’Brien ten minutes later to finally settle the match with a second Blacktown City goal, a simple tap in from the six-yard line.

With no further addition to the scoring it left City coach, Mark Crittenden to comment on the dominance he felt his troops had on the match.

“We were pretty dominant in possession, particularly in the first-half,” he said.

“We had two or three half chances during that period and I’d probably be happier had we put one of those away and go in ahead at the break but they (Sharks) are well organised, they run around effectively and make life difficult for teams to break down.

“I felt that if we kept playing the way we were and kept possession, we would eventually find the net and I’m pleased we started the match a little faster today as we’ve been somewhat guilty of being sluggish in some games so that was a pleasing aspect too.

“Every substitution is made on a gut feeling, where you see the game in that period and the guys who came on today played their part in what was an all around team performance.

“To get the three points against a resilient side like Sutherland is important but there are no easy games in this league and we move on to Sydney United 58 next Saturday and try to do the same again.”

“I think we had a few half-chances in the first-half like Blacktown City did,’ commented Sharks’ coach Damir Prodanovic

“In the end it’s these moments that decide the result in games.

“Two transitional moments again today and we’ve been caught for two goals and that has cost us and we just need to be better.

“We need to keep improving but coming to Landen Stadium and taking on a Critto (Mark Crittenden) team is always going to be difficult for any side against a good club with a good culture.

“They are very tough to play against, a very hard team and credit has to go to them today.”

Match Stats

Blacktown City 2 (Mario Shabow 65’, Jak Obrien 76’)

Sutherland Sharks 0

Landen Stadium, Blacktown

Sunday, 2nd April 2023

Referee: Ivica Covic

Assistants: Brad Wright and Declan Woods

Fourth Official: Rowan Fisher

Blacktown City: 1. Tristan Prendergast, 3. Daniel Collins, 4. Lachlan Campbell, 5. Grant Lynch, 7. Travis Major (17. Tatsuya Kato 80’), 8. Jak O’Brien, 10. Mario Shabow (16. Ben Berry 83’), 12. Tyren Burnie, 18. Nicholas O’Brien, 19. Adam Berry, 22. Carlos De Oliviera (6. Matthew Lewis 71’)

Subs not used: 21. Charles Mendy, 30. Jacob Fernandez, 43. Enrico Mazzotta

Yellow Cards:

Red Cards:

Sutherland Sharks: 1. Marko Bulic, 3. Jordan Roberts, 4. Mitch Stamatellis, 5. Jesse Photi (9. Hamish Lamberton), 6. Brodie Clarkson, 8. Alexander Brown,11. Fumoto Kamada (7. Connor Rose 80’), 14. Chris Lindsay, 15. Nathan Grimaldi, 21. Luke Sauer (91. Jonty Busch 70’), 33. Louis Khoury

Subs not used: 19. Evan Ball, 22. Jacob Cremen-Cowan, 32. Levi Sciuriaga

Yellow Cards: Chris Lindsay 47’

Red Cards:

Player Ratings

3 – Mario Shabow (BC)

2 – Grant Lynch (BC)

1 – Fumoto Kamada (SS)

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