Sydney FC 1 – Newcastle Jets 1
Our first defeat in the A-League was inflicted by the Newcastle Jets seven weeks ago. You can rest assured that most of those holed up in Energy Australia Stadium’s Bay 10 that day were ensconced in Aussie Stadium’s Bay 23 tonight, hungry for revenge.
It wasn’t to be. And the blame, many felt, fell at the feet of referee Mark Shield, who denied a very convincing penalty shout in the second half.
Nevertheless, although Sydney FC dominated much of the game, they could certainly have made more of the chances presented to them.
The steady rain had already scuppered the plans for a “Celebrity Match” to precede the game, and half an hour from kickoff the crowd looked distinctly disappointing. The eventual figure, a little over nine thousand, is perhaps about as much as could have been hoped for in such conditions.
Two straight changes were made by Littbarski; Talay came back into the midfield in place of Matt Bingley, while Petrovski’s suspension gave John Buonavoglia the opportunity for his first A-League start.
Your correspondent is rapidly running out of adjectives to describe the football inflicted on the patrons of Aussie Stadium in the first half of Sydney FC games recently. I’ll settle for “dismal” this time.
There was plenty of ill-feeling in evidence, too; Nick Carle set the tone with a dreadful early foul on David Carney, who found himself on the right once more. Ufuk Talay’s cheeky attempt to chip Liam Reddy a minute later was about the only bright moment in the first fifteen minutes.
Mateo Corbo, whose dismissal in the previous game between the two teams was well remembered by the Cove (and many of the other Sydney FC faithful) quickly became the target of judicious crowd abuse after a number of niggly fouls on Carney. With the latter struggling to deliver balls into the box and Nick Carle, the opposition’s star attraction, having a negligible impact, the crowd was predictably quiet.
A misplaced back-pass from Corbo, resulting in a Sydney FC corner, drew a roar from the crowd on 16 minutes. They might have roared even louder a moment later, had Iain Fyfe made a better connection with Talay’s incisive cross following the corner.
Much had been made of Newcastle’s frailty in defence before the game (as their manager was at pains to point out afterwards), but they proved hard to breach in the first half. Allan Picken, in particular, was dealing superbly well with the threat of Yorke, dominating our Trinidadian frontman in the air and on the ground.
Although the Cove were doing their best to enliven proceedings, the crowd was depressingly quiet. A battle of the drummers arose about halfway through the first period, with the representative of the Squadron vigorously taking on our Bay 23 timekeeper. Perhaps the pounding rhythms got the better of David Carney, who repaid some earlier harsh treatment with a dreadful foul on Corbo on 26 minutes. Carney was deservedly shown a yellow, but many felt that Corbo’s subsequent antics merited a similar sanction.
Corica had a half-chance on 31 minutes, and Yorke and Ceccoli both put the ball over Liam Reddy’s crossbar towards the end of the half. Then the whistle blew, to the relief of neutrals everywhere.
As they had done against the competition leaders three weeks earlier, Sydney FC emerged from the tunnel a much more energetic and effective side. Steve Corica, in particular, would come into the game far more in the second half; an early run from a deep position forced a “professional” foul from Picken, who was justly booked as a result.
A blazing shot from Talay on 58 minutes shaved the crossbar, and two minutes later Carney went on a fine run into the middle, which ended in a shot which went tantalisingly wide.
The best chance of an excellent period of the game for the home team, however, fell to the man we all hoped it would. Buonavoglia, having an impressive home debut, put Dwight Yorke clean through with a superb reverse pass. On he went into the 18-yard box, but the demons of last week’s game were still haunting him: his outside-of-the-foot shot curled wide.
Sydney countinued to dominate. Alvin Ceccoli, working tirelessly on the left as always, took off on a dazzling run into the box before squaring the ball perfectly for Buonavoglia. With little time to place his kick, the diminutive forward stabbed just wide of the near post.
The breakthrough came on 72 minutes. Once again, Carney found himself in a central position, with the ball at his left foot. This time, though, his shot sailed over Reddy and into the net, after a deflection off Jade North.
Four minutes later, after a period of keep-ball from Littbarski’s side, came the aforementioned unsuccessful penalty claim. Corica, again starting from a central position, forced his way into the box, only to be barged over by North. Mark Shield waved play on…and a minute later, Newcastle were level.
Iain Fyfe, who had a very mixed evening, got his foot to a long Newcaslte ball, but slipped and lost control. Franco Parisi, who had replaced a disappointing Haliti, cut the ball back accurately for Milicic, who was lurking, unmarked, on the edge of the area. He does not miss such chances.
The final ten minutes were frantic. David Zdrilic and Robbie Middleby were introduced, replacing Buonavoglia and McFlynn respectively, Milicic and Ceccoli almost came to blows, and Newcastle endured a number of anxious moments. Another fine run inside from Carney almost resulted in a repeat of the first goal, but the eventual cross-shot went wide of the right-hand post. Soon after, it was time; once again, Newcastle had proved a stumbling block for Sydney FC.
While lamenting Iain Fyfe’s costly error, Littbarski sounded some positive notes in the post-match press conference, stressing (not without some justice) how well the team had played in the second half. Richard Money, deploring his opposite number’s earlier comments regarding the Newcastle defence, stated that it was definitely a point gained rather than two lost.
And so to our other friends from up the Pacific Highway next week; the only team, so far, to have beaten us at Aussie. We have beaten them twice on their own turf; can we make it third time lucky on the 5th?
Sydney FC: Bolton; Packer, Fyfe, Timpano, Ceccoli; Carney, McFlynn (Middleby), Talay (Bingley), Corica; Yorke, Buonavoglia (Zdrilic).
mikey @ syndeyfc-unofficial.com