Rockdale City player-coach Paul Reid had demanded his side get off to a winning start to the NPL season.
And his Suns players didn’t let him down, with a 25 metre Alex Canak lob helping Rockdale defeat local rivals Sutherland 1-0 in their season opener on Sunday.
Sutherland made the short trip north over the Captain Cook Bridge to the Ilinden Sports Centre looking to upset the Suns and put themselves in a strong position to win back the Leader Cup.
But Canak’s effort seven minutes into the second half, where he chipped new Sutherland No.1 Ryan Norval from distance, was enough to settle the contest.
Reid told Football NSW his side had deserved the three points.
“I think it showed it was the first game of the season as there were a few sloppy passes and it wasn’t our best performance but I think we thoroughly deserved to win,” Reid said.
“We created the better chances and perhaps we should have won by a few more but it was a gutsy performance, a real battle.
“In the opening rounds you simply want to pick up the results as you know the performances will come so I’m pleased with a tough win.”
Rockdale had the better of the chances though Sutherland produced a late flurry that could have seen them earn a point.
But Sharks coach Grant Lee accused Rockdale of intimidating some of his younger players physically in what was a tough derby contest.
“You know what you’re going to get with the squad Rockdale has and the players on their books,” he said.
“You know how they are going to play and now they have a good pitch you might think that would change a little.
“They used their physicality well and were able to intimidate some of the younger players which is fine. You’ve got to be prepared for that and mentally tougher.
“We had to push on and change things a little to present some different problems to them. It showed it’s the opening game of the season and everyone was still a little rusty but it gives us the basis to build on for next week.”
- Sutherland host Sydney FC at Seymour Shaw Park in round two on Saturday night, while Rockdale travel to WIN Stadium to face the Wollongong Wolves on Sunday.