Sydney FC 0 – Newcastle Jets 0
Sydney FC 0 – Newcastle Jets 0
| An impressive crowd of over 15,000 witnessed Sydney FC’s return to their home turf, and the second 0-0 draw at Aussie Stadium, following the stalemate against Perth. Although Sydney FC certainly had the better of the chances this time, it was a fairly sterile evening.
Terry McFlynn returned to the Sydney starting XI in place of David Zdrilic, allowing Dwight Yorke to resume his partnership with Saso Petrovski up front. The former Manchester United man would, however, spend large periods of the second half in midfield, particularly after the arrival of Zdrilic.
Blustery conditions (not to mention a wonky stadium clock) greeted the players at the kickoff, with Pierre Littbarski wisely donning an extra layer of clothing to combat the fierce wind. Richard Money strolled over to the Sydney bench to shake hands with his opposite number before the opening whistle – one of the few gestures of goodwill between the two teams all night.
Indeed, Ufuk Talay was fouled clumsily after only a couple of seconds, and a spate of poor challenges followed in the first five minutes. Misplaced passes, too, were a familiar feature of the opening exchanges, with the high wind preventing any accuracy in the long ball department.
Neither side took the initiative early. Newcastle deployed a deep midfielder, Steve Eagleton, to dog the steps of Yorke and kept only a light patrol of Vaughan Coveny (still sporting an anonymous jersey) and Ante Milicic in the attacking half. For their part, Sydney FC failed to build up any impressive moves in the opening fifteen minutes.
A dangerous left-foot cross from Carney provided the first bright moment for the Cove; Petrovski came within inches of connecting. A few minutes later, a canny lay-off from Yorke allowed McFlynn a low cross-shot, which skidded marginally wide.
From then on, almost the entire first period was conducted in the Newcastle half. Balls were regularly booted out of defence by the Jets backline to the tall figure of Coveny, but he toiled alone and without success for much of the game.
Yorke had an excellent chance on 27 minutes, but his close-range shot was smothered ably by Liam Reddy. After some more unpleasantness from the Newcastle defence – the yellow card meted out to Ned Zelic on 35 minutes was greeted with vociferous applause – came the best chance of the half; Corica, taking a free kick in an advanced position, found the head of Iain Fyfe, whose close-range effort shaved the crossbar.
The half came to an abrupt end when Dwight Yorke for once skinned his marker Eagleton and earned a corner. No time to take it though – Matthew Breeze’s whistle sounded, to groans throughout the stadium.
Despite a Newcastle substitution at the break, the play followed the established pattern in the second half. Carney once again beat his man on 53 minutes, but his cross was fractionally too high for the waiting Petrovski to find the net. A minute later, a rare lapse from Allan Picken allowed Carney to cut inside and fire in a left-footed shot. Over the top.
Sydney FC pressed on. After a half-chance for Ceccoli, a sweet move between Yorke and Carney ended with the blond winger being thwarted by a retreating Zelic. The home team was well on top.
Their rhythm was shaken somewhat by a stoppage after 61 minutes, due to an aerial challenge between Coveny and Bolton. Sydney FC’s keeper was hastily bandaged up while Littbarski wildly gesticulated to Carney and McFlynn by the touchline…
Gradually, Newcastle worked their way into the game. Matt Thompson, after a sighter on 66 minutes, had a more substantial chance four minutes later, although Bolton dealt with his shot easily. Perhaps sensing that the tide was turning, Littbarski made two sensible changes, Andrew Packer replacing a tiring Talay while Zdrilic came on to add an extra presence up front.
Only a couple of minutes after the substitutions came what was so nearly the winner for Sydney FC. A cross from Packer found Petrovski, whose header beat Reddy but not the crossbar, and Zdrilic’s attempt from the rebound gave the Newcastle ‘keeper no trouble. Did the ball bounce down from the bar over the line? All academic…
The closing minutes saw Newcastle in the ascendancy for the first time in the game, after Zdrilic had carved himself a good opportunity after twisting his way past two Jets defenders. Labinot Haliti had come on to add extra drive to the Newcastle attack, and the tricky Nick Carle caused plenty of problems around the 18-yard area. Mark Milligan could count himself somewhat fortunate to remain on the field after a dreadful two-footed challenge on the little Newcastle playmaker.
Goalless it ended. Still no major reshuffling of the Sydney side, despite the poor showing against New Zealand, and another lacklustre evening was the result.
Time for some changes, Pierre?
Sydney FC: Bolton; Milligan, Fyfe, Timpano, Ceccoli; Carney, McFlynn, Talay (Packer), Corica (Zdrilic); Petrovski, Yorke.