Sharks Still The Team To Beat
Words: Michael Flynn, Palm Beach Sharks
Image: Jared Adamson, Palm Beach Sharks
Palm Beach Sharks extended their unbeaten start to the season to eight games on Saturday evening with a hard-fought 3-0 win over Brisbane Roar NYL at Mallawa Complex on the Gold Coast.
Chris Lucas scored twice in the second half – taking his tally to nine goals in the past three games - adding to Riley Dillon’s 50th minute opener for the league leaders.
Roar remained well in the contest until goalkeeper Fraser Chalmers was dismissed on 71 minutes after bringing down Lucas in the box and allowing Sharks to seal the result from the penalty spot.
A cagey opening to the match saw few chances in the opening half hour as both sides settled in to a familiar pattern – Roar controlling extended periods of possession as Sharks sought to catch their opponent in transition.
Roar midfielder Devante Clut and Sharks skipper Justyn McKay fashioned speculative efforts from distance but both failed to trouble the opposition’s glovemen.
Prior to the half the heavens opened, slickening the surface and putting paid to a scattering of further half chances before the break.
The hosts gained the advantage five minutes after the restart when fullback Dillon beat Chalmers on his near post after being teed-up by winger Daniel Dragicevic from the byline.
Sharks caught out Roar on the counter attack five minutes later when Dragicevic’s smart flick-on sent Lucas scooting down the right wing only to be felled by Julian Matthews inside the area.
Chalmers produced a sharp low save to deny Lucas’ initial effort from the penalty spot, however the wily striker poked home the follow-up to double the margin.
Sharks spurned several chances to seal the win before Chalmers’ indiscretion allowed the in-form striker to make no mistake with his second attempt from the penalty spot.
With ten minutes remaining Nic Mirkovic saw his low strike deflect back off the far post as the game continued to open up for both teams.
Roar produce promising late attacking flourishes from striker Jai Ingham and Clut but Sharks held out the youngsters to record their sixth clean sheet of the campaign.
The result keeps Palm Beach one point clear of fellow high-flyers Moreton Bay United after 11 rounds – with the two sides set to meet up next weekend in a top of the table showdown at Wolter Park.
Palm Beach Sharks 3 (Riley DILLON 50’, Chris LUCAS 55’ 72’(p))
Brisbane Roar NYL 0