A physical approach has helped Sutherland produce a stunning upset to start the NPL 1 season, downing defending champions Sydney Olympic 1-0 on Sunday.
The Sharks, who finished 10th out of 12 teams last season, faced arguably the most daunting fixture of the opening round with a trip to Belmore Sports Ground to tackle Olympic.
Boosted by new signings Mateo Poljak, Marc Warren, Tarik Erkan, Raul Romero and Juan Carlos Romero as well as Anthony Bouzanis in goal, the new-look Sharks were noticeably physical and aggressive with and without the ball.
The tactic seemed to unsettle the hosts as Sutherland defended strongly throughout the first half.
Jeremy Cox, who returned to the club from Sydney FC, came off the bench in the second half for Sutherland and provided their winner in the 70th minute.
Juan Carlos Romero slid the ball through for Cox who finished passed Olympic goalkeeper Paul Henderson.
The Sharks held on for the final 20 minutes, allowing new coach Terry Palapanis the chance to celebrate the perfect start to the season.
“It was tough, exactly how we expected,” Palapanis said.
“They’re a very good side Olympic, they’re the reigning champions.
“We had to make it physical otherwise we wouldn’t be leaving with three points.”
At Edensor Park, Rockdale City overcame the loss of Sasa Macura when he was sent off after half an hour to earn a 0-0 draw against bitter rivals Sydney United 58.
Midfielder Macura, who joined Rockdale from Manly in the summer, was shown a red card for two bookable offences.
We had to make it physical otherwise we wouldn’t be leaving with three points.Sutherland coach Terry Palapanis
Both sides created chances in a match that could have gone either way.
Suns coach Paul Reid said he was proud of his side as they held on for an hour with 10 men.
“It’s not easy playing with 10 men, especially away from home. It was very hot out there and for the effort that the boys put in I am very proud of them," Reid said.
“I said to them at half-time that if we defended like we did we will create a couple of chances. If it was 11 vs 11 we would have gone on and won the game, I know that.
“All in all, we were unlucky not to nick one at the end. We’ll take the point and look forward to next week against Marconi.”
Sutherland host Hakoah Sydney City East in their first home game of the season at Seymour Shaw Park on Saturday night.
Rockdale remain on the road, traveling to Marconi Stadium to take on the Stallions.