The Sutherland Sharks and Rockdale City Suns have played out a hotly contested 2-2 draw in a pre-season friendly played at Seymour Shaw Stadium tonight.
Warm conditions in excess of 30 degrees greeted both sides for the match which was the second pre-season trial for the Sharks who disposed of National Premier League 3 (NPL 3) Fraser Park 4-2 last week.
The game got off to a slow start as both sides attempted to show its superiority with crunching tackles the order of the day.
The first chance of the game fell to the Sharks and their enigmatic midfield Tomohiro Kajiyama who after receiving a good pass from Steve Kayes was only able to harmlessly hit his effort over the bar from six yards.
However Kajiyama would atone for his earlier miss by bundling in a cross on 15 minutes to put Sutherland into the lead.
After a scurry in the box, Kajiyama was in the right place at the right time to poke his shot into the net despite the attention of two Rockdale City defenders.
However less than five minutes later Rockdale restore parity through a familiar face.
Jordan Figon the former Shark who had graced the turf of Seymour Shaw many times over his period as a Sutherland player was fed through a beautiful ball, he seized the opportunity to lash home from the edge of the area despite the close attention of defender Matt Gordon.
Chances continued to come for both sides as fatigue took its effect. With the mercury rising, drink breaks were a regular occurrence for the players involved.
Sutherland had two great opportunities at the back end of the first half to take back the lead but were denied both times.
First, new signing Kevin Lopez had his close range header parried onto the post. Lopez was then denied one on one after a neat pass through the middle by Josh Da Silva.
At the other end of the field, Niki Loe was on hand to deny Rockdale on two one on one situations when it looked certain the St George-based club would take the lead.
His second save was the most entertaining as he shot up his right hand to deflect a whizzing shot past the near post.
The match opened up into the second half and Sutherland took full advantage of the width that Rockdale was allowing them to use.
Tomohiro Kajiyama, Jack Press and Jeremy Cox all benefited from the space and time they were given and it was the latter of the three men that made Rockdale pay for some sloppy defending.
Cox lashed an unstoppbale shot past new signing Ante Covic after a crisp past from Kajiyama in the centre. The former Western Sydney Wanderers shot-stopper could do nothing as the shot whizzed into top right hand corner much to the delight of the home fans.
Sutherland continued to come and should have taken a two-goal lead as first Cox fired against the upright and then five minutes later Kajiyama’s powerful drive was tipped over the bar by Covic.
It would take a little bit of magic from the Suns to come away with the draw as they converted expertly from a free kick that Sharks keeper Nathan Denham could do nothing about.
Some powerful defending from Blair Brown who was tracking back all of the second half and displayed some excellent pace and new Captain Nicholas Littler ensured the match finished 2-2.
Talking after the match, Sharks assistant coach Alan Edmondson was very happy with his young side’s effort ” I was very pleased with the boys tonight, they are in the middle of a very tough fitness schedule (nine weeks) and that hasn’t stopped because of these friendlies. To be able to play a match like that in this heat and with the training we’ve had to do is very good”.
Edmondson was also delighted with the two goals Sutherland scored as well as the other chances created. “Happy with the two goals but also pleased with the other chances we created. Coxy (Jeremy Cox) hit the post and Kaji (Tomohiro Kajiyama) had a shot just pushed away, good for us to be creating chances like that in a match. Obviously there is always a few little things we can work on but overall pretty pleased with the hitout”.
The Sharks are back on the training paddock on Tuesday as they prepare for another pre season fixture on Sunday.