A sizzling Patrick Wood first hat-trick was the headline as Sydney FC overcame a resurgent Sutherland Sharks defeating the Shire boys 4-3 in round 5 of the National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s competition at Seymour Shaw on a crispy autumn Saturday afternoon at Seymour Shaw.
A first-half blitz from the visiting young guns saw Wood net three and a Jaiden Kurcharksi strike in stoppage time had them 4-1 up at the break.
Sydney FC opened the scoring with a well-timed Wood strike before Lukman Ahmed-Shaibu levelled, but the visitors went on a goal scoring spree with another two for Wood and a late, late strike from Kucharski.
James Andrew reduced the deficit after the restart, but it proved too big a hurdle for the Sharks to get over despite substitute Lachlan Everett netting to make for a grandstand finish.
It means Sydney FC sit in second on the NPL ladder as the only undefeated team in the division.
A measured start to the match provided little in the way of goalmouth action until the 8th minute when Kurchaski centred but Mark Rodic was awake to the move and steered the ball out for a corner before going close with a glancing header that drifted wide of the woodwork.
Zap Sapsford rattled the bar from the edge of the area with a right-footed toe-poke after Kucharski displayed neat close control and dazzling footwork to squirm his way into the area.
Sutherland, for their part, were winning the corner count but the subsequent variations finding team-mates in dangerous areas.
They paid for their profligacy when Kucharski again ghosted into the area and squared for Wood to open the scoring for Sydney FC after 23 minutes.
Kucharski, having started the season in fine form, was certainly proving a handful for the Sharks and was almost single-handedly cutting a swathe through the Sutherland ranks.
Ahmed-Shaibu tried an audacious curling lob, in trying to catch 16yo debutant ‘keeper Gus Hoefsloot off his line, moments later that slipped wide of the goal for the home side in reply but he was not to be denied on the half-hour when rounding Hoefsloot and cutting the ball into the net from a sharp angle to level the tie.
The game was hotting up when Rodic under-hit a back pass that Wood pounced on to slide under Anthony Bouzanis and give Sydney FC the lead again closely followed by the striker being upended in the box and a penalty awarded for the front man to complete his hat-trick in the 37th minute from the spot.
It was his fifth goal of the 2022 NPL NSW Men’s campaign.
It was fantastic football by the visitors but with two goals in as many minutes, Sutherland needed to regroup and not concede again before the break.
Kucharski almost rubbed salt into the wound in stoppage time but for a terrific save from Bouzanis to deny the energetic youngster at the base of the post.
He did get the goal his play deserved on the stroke of half-time when netting Sydney FC’s fourth of the game.
In truth, Sydney FC could have been another three up at the break such was their dominance during the first 45 minutes.
It would remain to be seen if they could increase their goal tally or if Sutherland would go into damage control.
That question was answered when Andrew reduced the deficit with a thunderous strike four minutes into the second stanza.
Sydney FC produced a three-on-one break but Rodic did well to track down Wood and eventually see the ball out for a goal-kick with Sapsford screaming for the ball when all alone in the area.
Rodic was played in by Andrew however the effort was deflected into the side-netting before substitute Mitch Smith was unable to get this head to the ball from a teasing cross as Sutherland were beginning to create openings without the desired effect.
Adrian Segecic played a delightful one-two with Kucharski that Bouzanis needed to push away strongly from an increasingly rare Sydney FC foray forward.
Jason Madonis fired in a 76th minute free-kick that Smith met but flashed a header wide and Segecic brought another fine save from Bouzanis immediately at the other end.
Smith was again unfortunate after more good work from Madonis when Nathan Grimaldi managed to deflect his shot wide of the upright with some desperate defending from the centre-back and his counterpart, Aaron Gurd, was called in to action to deny Lachlan Everett.
Sutherland were piling on the pressure and finding gaps in the Sydney FC defence.
Sydney FC hat-trick hero Wood was given a rousing round of applause when leaving the pitch in the 81st minute to be replaced by Clayton Taylor – his performance certainly commanded the response.
Another substitute in Lachlan Everett found another goal for Sutherland in the 88th minute to make it 3-4 to Sydney FC and give the visitors some nervy moments until the final whistle.
However, they weathered the storm and held out notching up a vital victory for the Sky Blues.
“We felt we were in complete control in the first-half but a little off that after the break,” said Sydney FC coach Jimmy Van Weeren.
“That is something we are learning from, but we had a few guys who really performed well today, including our ‘keeper [Gus Hoefsloot] who’s just turned 16-years of age and hasn’t played an U20’s game before today.
“Sutherland were direct for the last 20-minutes but our back four stood up to the barrage when they asked a lot of questions of us but again, we have to give a great salute to our keeper who did well at to play at this level after coming straight out of U16’s football.
“He looked confident to play at this level and for him, the club and Australian football to have a player like him coming through the ranks is an exciting prospect.
“We’re still unbeaten this season but we have APIA next up and you’ve seen what we’re capable of and what we can do but we need to be consistent and do it for longer in games and no doubt they will give us another stern test, but we’re looking forward to it.”
While in the opposing dressing room, Sharks coach Nick Dimovski was furious with how his backline performed allowing the Sky Blues to score four.
“You have to credit Sydney FC in taking the points today, but we gifted them goals.
“My right fullback [Mark Rodic] has given them one from a soft pass back and that’s a coach killer.
“And another penalty against us, I think that’s three against us in four games, and it’s beginning to feel like its Groundhog Day every week.
“But the most frustrating thing for me is it doesn’t matter who we are playing we are giving away cheap goals and even today we’ve scored three but still lost the match.
“We seem to be scoring plenty, but we cannot keep them out and it’s a calamity of errors at the back and it needs to stop.
“It needs to stop.
“I’m disappointed with all of my defenders and you can quote me on it, they are all on notice.”
Sutherland Sharks 3 (Lukman Ahmed-Shaibu 30’, James Andrew 49’, Lachlan Everett 89’
Sydney FC 4 (Patrick Wood 23’, 35’, 37’p, Jaiden Kucharski 45+3’
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Saturday, 2nd April 2022
Referee: Michael Weiner
Assistant Referees: Matthew McOrist and Amirhossan Hosnani
Fourth Official: Ayad Naji
Sutherland Sharks: 1. Anthony Bouzanis, 2. James Baldacchino, 3. Gabriel Contagiani (10. Lachlan Everett 64’), 6. Patrick O’Shea (99. Lachlan MacDonald 87’), 7. Harry Callaghan, 8. Jason Madonis, 12. Lukman Ahmed-Shaibu (18. Mitch Smith 64’), 17. James Andrew, 21. Michael Neill, 22. Nick Sullivan, 23. Mark Rodic
Substitutes Not Used: 13. Charlie Jones, 16.Jacob Cremen-Cowan, 25. Luke Sauer
Yellow Cards: Harry Callaghan 26’
Red Cards: Nil
Sydney FC: 1. Gus Hoefsloot, 3. Aaron Gurd, 4. Nathan Grimaldi, 7. Aidan Simmons, 10. Jaiden Kucharski, 11. Adrian Segecic, 12. Jake Girdwood-Reich, 14. Zac Sapsford (9. Ben Gibson 71’), 17. Jayden Trenkoski, 18. Oscar Priestman, 22. Patrick Wood (13. Clayton Taylor, 81’)
Substitutes Not Used: 5. Kai Kamikura, 16. Matthew Scarcella, 26. Aleksander Duricic, 40. Steven Kriezis
Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil
3 – Patrick Wood (SFC)
2 – Jaiden Kurcharski (SFC)
1 – Gus Hoefsloot (SFC)
By National Premier Leagues NSW Men’s Reporter Micky Brock