Sutherland Sharks took advantage of home ground advantage to snare the TigerTurf Cup trophy at Seymour Shaw on Saturday afternoon.
Nick Stavroulakis' match-winner, 5' minutes out from the conclusion of second-half extra-time, secured the Cup for the Sharks, insight of the TeleChoice Premier League championship series commencing next weekend.
Ashley Ryan had the opening opportunity for Manly United but blasted wide from the angle of the penalty-area.
The eagerly anticipated showpiece that promised much in the build-up didn't disappoint, in a very open end-to-end game with both teams missing influential players through injury and suspension.
Perhaps the scoring should have begun when Brad Boardman was put through for the Sharks but was blocked away Brad Swancott in the Manly United net but Jimmy Bakis followed up and fired wide under pressure after only 5' minutes.
Sam Gallagher was late on Bakis and received the first caution of the afternoon on 13 minutes and the resultant free-kick caused all sorts of problems in the Manly United defence as they finally managed to clear their lines as Sutherland started to take control of the match.
Keith Shevlin broke through the Sharks defence but credit to Nathan Denham who managed to get a hand to the ball and lift it over the crossbar, although as it came down behind and rippled the mesh it managed to get the crowd to their feet yet again.
Boardman was sent away once more and delivered a teasing cross toward Bakis. Credit this time to Joel Grenell whom had the tough task of man-marking the Sutherland striker, Grenell managed to get some head to the ball and deflect it away from Bakis and toward his captain Joey Schirripa to clear as the epitome of an end-to-end game continued.
The fans were kept on the edge of their seats and it was Boardman who eventually broke the deadlock in the 24' minute when given the time and space to turn his marker on a 'five cent' piece and fire home low beyond Swancott to give the Sharks the lead.
It was a lead short lived as Manly United went straight from the kick-off and equalised through Keith Shevlin within 60'' seconds and it was game on as Sutherland almost returned the favour as the ball fell to Bakis in the box but he was always leaning back and the ball slipped narrowly over the crossbar.
The half continued to ebb and flow as each side cancelled the other out although Manly United did have a goal disallowed from a free-kick that was indirect but eluded everyone and ended up in the Sharks net without being touched, or possibly for an offside decision, but it was the closest either side came to scoring again in the opening 45' minutes.
Early in the second period Denham was called into action against Ashley Ryan that left the United player prostrate on the ground and requiring treatment without suggestion of foul play by either coach.
Sutherland came out after the break and really set the cat amongst the pigeons as they went straight for the jugular of Manly United and had them under the pump for the opening stages as the visitors to Seymour Shaw struggled to clear their lines.
The Michael Katz/Bakis right hand flank combination started to move up a gear and to prove a point it was captain courageous George Souris who was allowed to go on a 40-yard run into the box and centre for Nathan Ralph, but unfortunately for the Sharks he couldn't make clean contact and another opening went begging.
Midgely replaced Scott Thomas for Manly United and slipped into the midfield role as Phil Moss' side tried to wrest the initiative away from Sutherland and regain some composure in the middle third as the Sharks were relentless in their sweeping attacks down both flanks. Ben Spruce, Nick Stavroulakis and Nathan Ralph began taking it to Manly United down the left when ably supported by Chris Price and Neil Jablonski through the middle whilst Boardman made a nuisance of himself in the box whilst Souris remained solid in defence.
Shevlin and Brad Groves started the match on fire for Manly but the latter seemed to fade toward the end of the opening half with perhaps Grenell being the stand-out for his marking role on Boardman.
The pace intensified, if that were possible, and it looked as though the worst thing that could have happened for Manly was the half-time break as they didn't look the same side that was starting to dominate in the latter stages of the opening stanza.
Manly United dug in and fought their way doggedly back into the match, though the feeling was that should the game go to extra-time it would be fitness that would prove key - and Sutherland Sharks are by far the fittest side in the league so Manly needed to do something in the 90' minutes.
Sutherland continued to exploit space in the Manly United defensive-third and provided plenty of telling crosses that unluckily they couldn't connect with as Manly were reduced to playing the long-ball game and counter attack although the tempo of the game never diminished.
Manly had a dead ball effort in the 84' minute that everyone expected Schirripa would take as it was on the edge of the penalty-area, which he did take, but the Manly United captain hit the effort straight into the wall and Sutherland countered before breaking down in midfield.
It appeared that the dead ball scenario would eventuate their best chance of winning the trophy as the Sharks were totally dominating in every department except on the scoreboard and if there were a winner in 90' minutes it was football as it finished all-square and the match headed into extra time.
Matthew Hall and Blake Powell replaced Bakis and Ralph respectively at the start of extra-time and their pace would be something to threaten the tiring legs of an already overstretched Manly United defence, who would not relish seeing these two come on the pitch.
Groves had a shot from distance for Manly on 93' minutes on the clock but it was tame and easily dealt with by Denham, as business was resumed by Sutherland with their free-flowing play. Even if Manly started to produce the odd telling moment, it was far and few between.
Denham made a spectacular save at the feet of Midgely from point-blank range as the Manly midfielder broke free when pursued by the impressive Michael Robinson and managed to re-gather in what could have been the match winning save that brought a smile to the face of Sharks goalkeeper coach Ron Tilsed as the first period of extra-time remained goal-less.
Stavroulakis and Spruce combined to frustrate Midgely in the box and return the Sharks to attack as the minutes ticked down toward penalties unless someone, somewhere, somehow managed to find the net to finish the contest in regulation and extra-time.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man and that man was Nick Stavroulakis who stole the ball just outside the box, beat two Manly defenders and fired in a low shot beyond the despairing dive to the right of Brad Swancott and Sutherland finally took the lead with 5'minutes remaining.
It proved the difference between two gladiatorial teams who had given everything in this match and perhaps no-one deserved to lose but someone invariably does and today there was no disgrace in that side being Manly United.
Manly coach Phil Moss said afterwards:
"Full credit to Sutherland who were physically spent but still managed to pull a goal out of the bag to win this final.
"I though Sam Gallagher had a magnificent match for a 16-year old kid and to be honest I didn't think we deserved to lose so we just need to instill a winning mentality into the side.
"We'll look to the finals series now and know what to expect and be prepared for it."
Robbie Stanton of the winning Sharks stated:
"Well played to Manly for a tough game and a fantastic effort.
"It was first class and no-one really deserved to lose but in a final there can only be one winner and luckily today it was us.
"We'll enjoy this moment and know the job isn't yet finished and we'll concentrate on the finals and I wouldn't be surprised if we met Manly again in those.
"Great game, tough win and congratulations again to Manly for their effort."
Sutherland Sharks 2 (Brad Boardman 24', Nick Stavroulakis 115')
Manly United 1 (Keith Shevlin 25')
Saturday 15th, August, 2009
Seymour Shaw Park, Miranda
Referee: Gerard Parsons
Assistant Referees: Lance Greenshields and Christian Mehl
Fourth Official: Kris Griffiths-Jones
Sutherland Sharks: 1.Nathan Denham; 2.George Souris, 4.Michael Robinson, 6.Chris Price, 7.Jim Bakis (10.Matthew Hall 91'), 18.Nathan Ralph (Blake Powell 91'), 9.Brad Boardman, 11.Ben Spruce, 12.Neil Jablonski, 14.Nick Stavroulakis, 15.Michael Katz
Substitutes Not Used: 5.Andrew Smith, 17.Jordan Nikolovski, 22.Yanni Fragogiannis
Yellow Cards: Michael Robinson 61', Blake Powell 98'
Red Cards: Nil
Manly United FC: 1.Brad Swancott; 2.Shaun Bowden (12.Jamie Garside 98'), 5.Joel Grenell, 6.Scott Thomas (11.Craig Midgley 56'), 7.Ashley Ryan, 8.Michael Lloyd-Green, 13.Mitch Macedo (10.Giosue Sama 82'), 15.Keith Shevlin, 16.Joey Schirripa, 24.Brad Groves, 33.Sam Gallagher
Substitutes Not Used: 12.Jamie Garside, 41.Ben McNamara, 26.Jimmy Oates
Yellow Cards: Sam Gallagher 13'
Red Cards: Nil
3 - Nick Stavroulakis(SS)
2 - Neil Jablonksi (SS)
1 - Joey Schirripa (MUFC)
Match Statistics by Chris Georgakopoulos
Shots on goal (on target):
Sutherland Sharks - 13 (6)
Manly United - 12 (7)
Sutherland Sharks - 24
Manly United - 26
Sutherland Sharks - 5
Manly United - 3
Sutherland Sharks - 5
Manly United - 4
Overall Player Ratings:
1. Nathan Denham (GK) - Didn't have much to do for the Sharks after conceding a poor goal - 7.5
2. George Souris- Solid, experienced performance by the Sharks captain - 7
4. Michael Robinson - Stood tall by the side of Souris and held his line well throughout the whole game 7.5
6. Chris Price - Great game playing in a different role behind Brad Boardman in place of Panni Nikas. Great attacking flair throughout the game finding space 7.5
7. Jim Bakis - Consistent game in the midfield, creating chances in the attacking third for Sutherland showing his experience 8
9. Bradley Boardman - Scored a great goal to give Sutherland the lead, led the line well throughout 7.5
11. Ben Spruce - Clearly stood out in the defensive line for Sutherland, as well as bringing some great attacking runs down the line to create opportunities 9
12. Neil Jablonski - Stand out in the midfield, calming the play down as well as placing the ball in great positions for his attackers 9
14. Nick Stavroulakis - Had an up and down game, after starting well and scored a great winner in the final minutes of extra time to earn himself the player of the match award 9.5
15. Michael Katz - Had a quiet first half but found the right path down the right hand touchline for the rest of the match providing great crosses 7.5
18. Nathan Ralph - Below par game on the left hand side of midfield to his standard 6
3. Blake Powell - Made a definite impact in place of Nathan Ralph, definitely a player with potential 7
10. Matthew Hall - Solid game off the bench 7
1. Brad Swancott - After a slow start had a great game between the sticks, unlucky to concede the winning goal which just missed his right hand 8
2. Shaun Bowden - Played a solid game on the right hand side of defence and midfield, game ended prematurely when he was taken off injured 7.5
5. Joel Grenell - Solid game in the central defensive position and defended well by the side of youngster Sam Gallagher 7.5
6. Scott Thomas - Very solid game sitting in front of the defensive line. Clearly controlled the defensive midfield when he was on, providing great balls through to the attacking players 8
7. Ashley Ryan - Was good in patches however went missing a lot of the time 7
8. Michael Lloyd-Green - A below par performance by a player all are used to seeing in great form 6.5
13. Mitch Macedo - Played a solid game in the midfield getting some great touches in attacking positions 7.5
15. Keith Shevlin - Scored a great goal beating the keeper to the ball in the air and provided great running in the midfield in the second-half 8
16. Joey Schrippa - The captain had a standard game, defending well and linking well with Bradley Groves 7.5
24. Bradley Groves - Clearly Manly's best player on the pitch from the first whistle 8.5
33. Sam Gallagher - Had a tough start to the game in his debut for the senior squad but settled in well thanks to the guidance of his defensive line 6.5
10. Giosue Sama - Failed to make an impact off the bench however never gave up running 6.5
11. Craig Midgley - Had a great game off the bench, creating a great attacking spark and unlucky to not score on a couple of occasions 8
12. Jamie Garside - Also failed to make an impact off the bench 6
-By Micky Brock