NSW NATIONAL PREMIER LEAGUE
South Coast Wolves put a vital buffer on the bottom of the competition with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Sutherland Sharks on Sunday.
It sees the former NSL champions climb four points clear of Manly United at the foot of the ladder with a favourable home schedule in the second half of the campaign.
Ricky Zucco’s goal just after the break was enough for them to steal the three points from their nearest rivals at WIN Stadium.
After a slow first half which left a lot to be desired, Sunday’s fixture came to life in the second stanza.
The Wolves’ improved tempo was immediately rewarded when Matt Bailey found Zucco at the near post to prod home the opener.
Rather than rest on their laurels, South Coast continued to turn the screws with Zucco firing wide from distance.
Next it was Jordan Murray’s turn to test the Sharks defence, and the impressive youngster’s strike looked goal-bound before eventually finding the post.
After quelling the early onslaught, Sutherland began creating chances of their own with Panny Nikas a constant threat in the attacking third.
But the Wolves defence, led by Michael Robinson, held firm under some extended stints of pressure.
With the Sharks pushing men forward, the hosts looked certain to catch them on the break to seal the win but couldn’t make the most of a list of opportunities.
In the end, the sole strike was enough to grab the three points, much to the delight of Wolves coach Nahuel Arrarte.
‘‘We showed we can go forward. We have been lacking that in the past couple of weeks but we had a decent go against a quality team,’’ Arrarte said after the match.
‘‘We go away with the 1-0 win and could’ve had a couple more.
‘‘At the same time they are a decent side so we have to mindful of that.’’
Arrarte also paid tribute to his side’s impressive ball retention throughout the 90 minutes.
‘‘I think we played a lot better with the ball. We kept the ball against a quality team in windy conditions,’’ .
‘‘I think it was something that has been missing in our game. Defensively, we were quite sound in other games but lacked that composure with the ball.
‘‘It paid dividends today.’’
Skipper Jacob Timpano remained absent from first grade football but did chalk up another solid 90 minutes in the under-20s 4-3 win.
The Wolves have minimal time to recover before their Waratah Cup semi-final clash with Manly United on Wednesday night.