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Adelaide Utd 3 – Sydney FC 2

Adelaide Utd 3 – Sydney FC 2

Adelaide Utd 3 – Sydney FC 2
It was tremendously tense. It was wonderfully exciting.

A proverbial five-goal thriller, between the two teams on the top of the table; what more could a neutral fan ask for? Sadly for Sydney FC fans, our team ended up on the wrong end of the ledger.

Pierre Littbarski’s side were diminished by the enforced absence of Steve Corica, the victim of an attack of flu. The return of Mark Milligan from long-term injury, however, was a blessing. He replaced Andrew Packer in the right-back slot, while Dwight Yorke lined up in midfield, behind a front-line of Petrovski and “Kazu”. It proved, on balance, a good move, although it meant Ufuk Talay was pushed out to the left wing – where he endured a wretched afternoon, by his high standards.

If the deployment of Yorke in midfield was intended to spare him the attentions of violent opposition defenders, a bad foul on him in the opening minute showed that this was not to be. And before our new midfield schemer could impose himself on the game (and he did, to some extent, in the first half), Adelaide had taken the lead.

Fernando Rech, eluding Fyfe at a set-piece, found the space to crash a shot against the crossbar; taking advantage of a lucky rebound, he unleashed a bullet header which left Bolton with no chance.

A dispiriting start to the match for Sydney FC, but they responded vigorously; indeed, the next few minutes saw the men in blue surging forward, with two half-chances for Saso Petrovski the result. Yorke, too, was only foiled by an alert Robert Bajic in the 8th minute.

On ten minutes disaster struck once more. This time, Sydney could perhaps be judged a little unlucky; Bolton, coming forward to claim the ball from a corner, found himself lost in a sea of bodies on the 6-yard line. As he struggled to make his way across goal, impeded (some might say) by Angelo Costanzo, the ball fell to an unmarked Carl Veart, who stabbed it home.

Although Sydney had perhaps the better of the argument for the next twenty minutes, the best chance of an inconclusive period fell to Adelaide, with another mix-up in defence almost gifting a goal to Shengqing Qu.

Sydney’s comeback began in the 33rd minute, with Yorke at the heart of things. His superbly-weighted pass found Kazu in space, and the Japanese striker ran the ball across the edge of the area before firing a deft cross-shot past the left hand of Bajic. A quality finish, and a most welcome confidence-builder before the interval. Petrovski too found the net after 35 minutes, but was ruled offside – a marginal decision.

Although Sydney had been steadily regaining ground towards the end of the first half, it has to be said that in the second half Adelaide were in the ascendancy. Although Yorke was prompting superbly in midfield and Carney was his usual industrious self on the right wing, the organisation and determination of the Adelaide side was impressive. Fernando Rech, although quiet for considerable periods, was always a threat, and a fine shot on 66 minutes missed by a whisker. Five minutes later, it was the turn of Qu, forcing a sharp save from Bolton from a free kick.

Against the run of play, Sydney equalised on 76 minutes, and again it was a splendid finish from Kazuyoshi Miura. Through on goal, he was forced into a shot from an awkward angle by the approach of Bajic; but after shrugging off the Adelaide keeper he managed a precise left-footed volley, which was turned into the net by a desperate Adelaide defender.

2-2, with fifteen to go!

Now the initiative was Sydney’s, and their forays forward became more numerous; on 82 minutes, a Yorke free kick slammed into the defensive wall, only for Alvin Ceccoli to try one of his 20-yard thumps. Well wide.

In the very next minute, Adelaide scored the killer. Rech, from outside the box, had found space for a shot once more; it looked too low and too straight, but a late swerve took Clint Bolton by surprise, and our normally reliable gloveman could only push it into the far corner of the net.

From that moment, waves of blue assailed Robert Bajic and his defenders, but each time they were beaten back, often only just. Tempers rose, fists flew now and then, and Zdrilic and Rudan came on to add muscle and height in attack.

To no avail; Adelaide kept their lead until the whistle.

And so the team in red opens up a big lead on the A-League table. Although there were many positives for Pierre Littbarski to take from the game – the deft finishing of Kazu, Yorke’s influential display in midfield, and most importantly Sydney’s laudable fighting spirit, there is still plenty of work to do.

Next week: bring on the Tards.

Sydney FC: Bolton; Milligan (Zdrilic), Fyfe, Timpano, Ceccoli; Carney (Rudan), Yorke, McFlynn, Talay (Bingley); Kazu, Petrovski.

by Mikey

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