Perth Glory 1 Sydney FC 2
| Sydney FC’s still absent right-back Mark Milligan, prior to the beginning of the A-League season, expressed the view that Sydney’s best performance of the pre-season had been the come-from-behind victory against Perth Glory on their home turf, in the World Club Championship playoffs. |
Another match in Perth. Another come-from-behind victory. By all accounts, the performance of the team on the previous occasion had been considerably better. But never mind, we’ll take the three points.
For once, Pierre Littbarski fielded an unchanged starting line-up; Carney was deployed again on the right, while Jacob Timpano retained his place in central defence.
Terry McFlynn, continuing from where he left off against Queensland, got things rolling for Sydney with a low, well-struck shot, covered with some uncertainty by Jason Petkovic. Clearly, last week’s goal has done Terry’s confidence a power of good.
Sydney’s lack of width on the left, it must be said, was starkly apparent yet again. Poor Alvin Ceccoli at times had to combine the roles of fullback and winger, and Dwight Yorke’s early, well-intentioned attempts to play him through down the left simply required our nominal left-back to run too far.
Perth Glory, though, were far from tactically sophisticated themselves; indeed, the long ball up to the tall figure of Brian Deane, industriously flicking the ball on for Despotovski and others, was the predominant (some might say the only) tactic adopted by the home team.
Clint Bolton had a torrid first half; after slightly mishandling a shot from Despotovski on 15 minutes, a misjudged attempt at a catch from a Perth corner resulted in a finger injury which required some treatment. No need for Justin Pasfield just yet, however; Bolton, to the relief of Sydney FC fans, stayed put.
Perth were applying most of the pressure around the twenty-five minute mark, but Yorke, with some adroit touches, and Corica and Carney with some penetrating runs kept the Perth defence on the alert. A neat backheel from Yorke to Corica on the half-hour mark, a long shot from Carney, roaming around the midfield, a few minutes later; Sydney FC were getting closer.
The two central defenders, too, managed to get involved; Jacob Timpano almost caught the Perth defence off guard with a snap volley shortly afterwards, while Iain Fyfe, perhaps taking pity on the overworked Ceccoli, then went on an overlapping run down the left, which, though well executed, came to nought.
It was Perth, however, who scored, the result of a moment of misunderstanding between Timpano and Fyfe. While Fyfe pushed forward to play the Perth attackers offside, Timpano stayed behind, and Bobby Despotovski expertly nipped into the resulting gap, to meet a cross from Jamie Coyne which he headed deftly past Bolton.
Perth might, indeed, have added another before the half-time break, with Deane for once getting a chance after he managed to manoeuvre himself goal-side of Fyfe – but the shot went over. Still no goals for the big man.
The home side maintained the initiative after the break, with another moment of hesitation in defence presenting Despotovski with a chance two minutes after the restart. Yet, just as the spirits of the Sydney FC faithful (grouped around the plasma screen at Campsie) were starting to wilt, a goal came – from out of nowhere.
Yorke, with a serpentine run along the Perth goal-line, won a free kick, which was taken by Talay. Drifting over the heads of the defenders, the cross reached our marquee man at an awkward height, yet he managed to chest (or stomach, if you prefer) the ball into the path of Petrovski, who made no mistake with the finish.
The game began to open up, with half-chances at both ends within the next few minutes. Corica, more effective in the second half, blazed over the top after a Yorke layoff, while Hiroyuki Ishida, one of Perth’s better players on the night, found himself in the open after 55 minutes yet mishit his attempted chip.
In a bizarre move, Steve McMahon now sacrificed both his wide men – Ishida and Sekulovski – to make room for two extra strikers in Nick Ward and Damian Mori. Before the Perth fans could work out how this would affect Perth’s shape, Sydney had scored again.
This time, the roles of provider and scorer were reversed; a long throw from Andrew Packer was met by a Petrovski header; on it went, via a deflection, to Yorke, who had drifted away from his marker. A quick touch to control the ball was followed by a powerful shot which, despite a touch from Petkovic, crept inside the near post. Start spreading the news, sang the Campsie contingent…
Sydney FC have proved themselves expert at protecting leads in the second half, and this game was no exception. The defence rallied impressively – Iain Fyfe, in particular, was a tower of strength in the final fifteen minutes – and the continuing excellence of Corica and Yorke meant that Perth were regularly in danger of going further behind.
Petrovski, after a wild shot over the bar, was replaced on 77 minutes, and McMahon restored some width to his side by bringing on Adrian Caceres, tormentor of Sydney in the pre-season cup, for a glum-looking Deane.
Corica had two late chances, one of his own making and one from another cut-back from Yorke in injury time. As the minutes ticked by, Littbarski sensibly made two more substitutions, Bingley and Middleby replacing McFlynn and Carney respectively. There was time for one final heart-stopping moment, when Billy Celeski was played in by Nick Ward but blazed over the top; but the night, and the three points, belonged to Sydney FC.
For the second week in a row, Sydney have managed to win a game away from home despite not playing particularly well. Although the defence could hold their heads fairly high after a defiant final twenty minutes, they were breached many times by an unimaginative attack; one wonders, however, if many A-League attacks will have the wit to really expose their frailties.
The Campsie Hotel again provided a congenial meeting-place for the Cove in absentia. The night was enlivened by the presence of a sole, valiant Glory fan, who was never shy of entering into disputes with the Covers over the often controversial officiating. A few chants got an airing, and it was amusing to hear the famous Shed echoing a cry of “Same old Perth Glory, always cheating” from the Campsie crowd (with the name of Sydney inserted in place of the Glory, naturally).
Second on the table after four out of six games away from home – and we are still far from our best. The future looks bright.
Sydney FC: Bolton; Packer, Timpano, Fyfe, Ceccoli; Carney (Middleby), Talay, McFlynn (Bingley), Corica; Petrovski (Zdrilic), Yorke.
mikey @ syndeyfc-unofficial.com