Sutherland’s future looks bright after their under-20s side completed a premiership-championship double on Sunday, downing APIA Leichhardt 2-0 in their NPL 1 grand final.
Second half goals to Jeremy Cox and Jack Press saw the young Sharks finish their impressive season on a high at Leichhardt Oval on Sunday, after Sutherland had finished the regular season top of the league table.
Sutherland coach Nick Dimovski paid tribute to APIA and praised his side for their strong showing after half-time.
“It was a really tight opening 45 minutes and I don’t think we were at our best. APIA were hard to break down defensively and we knew that was going to be the case,” he told Football NSW.
“At half time I told the boys that we would need to weather the storm at some stage but to go out in the second half and play the Sharks way was fantastic to see.”
While Sutherland had an underwhelming season in first grade to finish 10th, the young Sharks lit up the under-20s competition. Sutherland won the premiership after finishing 11 points clear at the top of the table before winning their major semi-final against Sydney FC a fortnight ago.
APIA almost took an early lead when Samuel Gulisano’s floated cross came back off the crossbar. Under-20s golden boot winner Aedon Kyra could have had APIA in front on the stroke of half-time but his scissored effort from the penalty spot went wide.
Sutherland were to make APIA pay. APIA goalkeeper Luke Turnbull did well to keep out a Cox flick early in the second half but could do nothing to stop the speedster 10 minutes later as he broke through to fire home on the half volley.
APIA blew a golden chance to level the score when Dominion Nasrabadi exchanged passes with Nicholas Chymiak on the edge of the area but the Tigers midfielder struck his effort straight at veteran Sharks goalkeeper Nathan Denham, playing as an overage player.
Sutherland sealed the result with a lightning counter attack with Adam Massoud’s cutback palmed away by Turnbull and eventually poked through a crowd of bodies by Press.
In the first grade decider, Manly United ended their 22-year title drought after an incredible penalty shootout win over APIA Leichhardt.
Manly keeper Dylan Mitchell made save after save to maintain his clean sheet with the match scoreless after extra-time.
Mitchell then made two saves to give his side a 4-3 shootout win, securing the boys from the northern beaches their first grand final win since 1995.