NSW PREMIER LEAGUE
South Coast Wolves coach Richard Lloyd found a silver lining in his team's opening-round 4-0 loss to Sutherland on Saturday at Crehan Park.
The Wolves actually had the best scoring chance of the first half when Peter Simonoski set up Mitchell Del Turco with a perfect pass, but Del Turco's shot whistled agonisingly over the crossbar.
Minutes later Simonoski appeared to have been cut down in the penalty box.
But the Wolves' playmaker received a yellow card for diving, before leaving the field with an injury he had apparently sustained during his controversial booking incident.
The home team continued to ask questions of the Sharks and almost broke the deadlock with Ricky Zucco's long-range attempt.
But the Sharks drew first blood in the 41st minute when Panni Nikas scored his first goal.
The lead was 2-0 after four minutes of the second half when Jamie McMaster capitalised on a Wolves error just outside the box.
Nikas grabbed his second in the 66th minute and got his hat-trick in the 88th minute.
Lloyd praised his team's effort and felt the score wasn't an accurate reflection of the contest.
"I'm feeling a little bit gutted looking at that result because 4-0 looks like an absolute hiding," the first-year coach said.
"We played some really good football out there with our finishing and the chances we created, so we shouldn't be too down about that result.
"We had at least four or five clear-cut opportunities to score. We just failed to put them away, otherwise the score could have been much different.
"We'll learn from that. We're still playing some good football and we'll take the positives out of that loss and be better for it."
Sutherland coach Robbie Stanton empathised with Lloyd.
"It's probably not really fair on them that it was 4-0, but that's football and it happens," Stanton said.
"We've played extremely well in games and dominated and still have come out with nothing. Our target was to come here to get the three points and that's what we did, so I'm very happy with that.
"Credit to the opposition. There was a period in the first half where it was touch and go, but we happened to get that goal through Panni which got us onto a roll and made us believe in ourselves coming out for the second half.
"After our second goal [the Wolves] ... could have scored a couple of goals on us, but we kept our lines really tight."
The Wolves are on the road against Blacktown City on Saturday.