A Jordan Murray hat-trick has condemned Sutherland to a 6-2 thrashing at the hands of APIA Leichhardt on Saturday night.
The Tigers stormed to the top of the NPL 1 table with the four-goal victory, with Sutherland’s finals hopes dwindling after slipping to six points outside the top five.
Murray opened the scoring inside the opening 10 minutes at Lambert Park before Ryoga Suyama equalised for Sutherland nine minutes later after turning home a rebound.
Howard Fondyke made it 2-1 to the hosts on the half hour mark before Murray scored his second on the stroke of half-time.
A Nick Littler own goal gave APIA a 4-1 lead 10 minutes after the break before Nick Olsen pulled a goal back for the Sharks with half an hour remaining.
But the NPL 1’s leading scorer Murray would complete his hat-trick with 20 minutes to play before Tasuku Sekiya added a sixth APIA goal in stoppage time.
Sutherland coach Grant Lee was left bitterly disappointed with the result and said “schoolboy errors” had cost his side against an opportunistic APIA.
“It was just poor. Nothing against APIA, who played well, but they scored six goals and they all came from nothing. We gave it to them on a platter,” he said.
“They’re a good side and they’ve got good players but we’re trying to be too cute and too smart, taking risks at the wrong time, and it just invites trouble. It’s so naive.
“To say that we made schoolboy mistakes is nasty to a schoolboy.”
Sutherland will be left to lick their wounds with a week off from the NPL 1 competition, with APIA to take on holders Hakoah Sydney City East in the Waratah Cup final on Saturday.
The match is a replay of the 2017 final, with the eastern suburbs club looking to defend their crown which they won with a 3-1 victory over the Tigers.
Sutherland return to league action on July 21 when they host Manly United at Seymour Shaw Park.