After a two week break due to the latest wet weather, Sutherland travelled to Lynwood Park on a cold but bright morning to face a Macarthur team who had improved significantly since the previous meeting of the sides back in April.
Macarthur started brightly immediately testing the Sutherland defence forcing Sharks keeper Thomas Horne into action when he came off his line smartly to smother the ball at the strikers feet to prevent the opening goal. Slowly Sutherland began to find their feet and exert some control over the game and, as always, began to find space in wide areas to cause Macarthur problems. On nine minutes a good break from wide left by Jett Cavanagh led to him finding Max Sidney who was well placed and shot narrowly wide of the post with the keeper beaten.
This was Sutherland’s signal to step up a gear and for the rest of the half it was they who looked the more likely to score although Macarthur continued to pose a threat on the counter attack which meant that Sutherland’s concentration in defence needed to be strong.
Following a short corner on 16 minutes the ball was worked to Luke Sauer in the area whose low, hard cross-shot on the turn again flashed just wide of the Macarthur keeper’s right hand upright.
Just before half time Sutherland went close again this time from a set piece with Ben Raatz firing just over the bar from a free-kick on the edge of the Macarthur area.
The half time whistle came with the scores locked at 0-0 but there was plenty to suggest that either team could still win the game from here.
Sutherland came out of the dressing rooms for the second half with a renewed purpose intent on making their pressure translate into goals and within two minutes they were in front. Caleb Browne, who was excellent throughout alongside Jack Mitsoulas in the heart of the Sharks defence, began the move that opened the scoring by snuffing out a Macarthur attack and as opposed to aimlessly clearing the ball he calmly turned and played the ball back to Horne in the Sutherland goal whose distribution was excellent to start the Sutherland counter attack on the opposite flank where Alex O’Connor began a length of the field move that incorporated a swift interchange in midfield which resulted in Aidan Dennis bursting through the inside left channel who centred to find Luke Sauer. His first attempt was blocked but the rebound fell to Jett Cavanagh who made no mistake from close range. It was no more than Sutherland deserved for a fantastic sweeping move that spanned the width and length of the pitch.
This goal began a period of sustained control and pressure from Sutherland which kept Macarthur -who defended very well throughout – on the back foot for most of the half limiting them to one or two raids on the counter. However, it was often when Macarthur’s attacking situations broke down that Sutherland were most dangerous and they almost repeated the opening goal with a carbon copy move beginning with Thomas Horne switching play following another back pass by Caleb Browne…again the ball travelled the length of the pitch with short, sharp passing play ending in a post coming to Macarthur’s rescue.
Sutherland wrapped up the game nine minutes from full time with a goal from Max Sidney created superbly by the touch and vision of Damian Deidda whose control and pass when under pressure just inside the box released the better-placed Sydney who buried the ball in the back of the net past the helpless keeper.
This was probably Sutherland’s best half of football all season with all facets of their game on display – solid in defence, calm and patient in possession and creating numerous goal-scoring opportunities from wide areas. Credit must go to Macarthur for playing a big part in what was a fantastic game of football to watch.