Adelaide Utd. 2 – Sydney FC 2
Adelaide Utd. 2 – Sydney FC 2
|This season’s encounters between Sydney FC and Adelaide United have been among the more memorable tussles that the fledgling league has produced.
Although tonight’s first half lived up to expectations and then some, the second half was, by and large, a disappointment from a neutral fan’s perspective.
From a Sydney FC point of view, the boys return to the harbour city with two crucial away goals in their pocket, and the knowledge that the team has not been beaten at home since September. The odds are emphatically in favour of a Grand Final at Aussie Stadium…
Littbarski saw no reason to tinker with the side that had accounted for both Perth and Adelaide. An injury to Lucas Pantelis, however, meant a change to the Adelaide line-up; Richie Alagich moved into midfield, with Robert Cornthwaite slotting into the vacated right-back role.
Hindmarsh Stadium was graced by three members of the squad chosen for the Socceroos’ first Asian encounter, but there was nothing graceful about the contribution of one of them, Michael Valkanis, on nine minutes. An energetic surge through the centre by Ruben Zadkovich was matched by a clever run from Corica, taking advantage of Valkanis’s failure to hold the defensive line. Corica then chipped goalwards over the advancing Beltrame; Valkanis was there to clear, but a more inept attempt at a clearance has not been seen in the A-League this season. “Don’t do that s**t against Bahrain!” quipped a jubilant but perhaps apprehensive member of the Cove. 1-0 to Sydney FC.
Adelaide’s dangerously high defensive line nearly proved their undoing again two minutes later, with the ubiquitous Corica nearly putting Petrovski clean through. Two other half-chances followed, before a clearly frustrated Carl Veart slammed his elbow into Mark Milligan, with whom he was contesting the ball. Violent and cynical, but, sadly, unnoticed by the referee. Milligan would take some minutes to recover from the blow.
Sydney’s defence was nearly breached on 21 minutes, but Clint Bolton came to the rescue after Shengqing Qu had escaped his marker and connected with Veart’s incisive through-ball. This was one of Adelaide’s few bright moments in a first half in which Sydney held the upper hand somewhat, but, once again, the men in red made the most of a breakaway on the half-hour mark.
A Sydney attacking move involving Bingley and Corica ended with the ball played to Dwight Yorke’s feet, only six yards from goal; his half-hearted shot was cleared off the line, and the break was on. The ball came out to Travis Dodd on the left; dancing around Milligan, he evaded the advancing Bolton as well, and placed a precise shot in between the two defenders on the Sydney goal-line.
A traumatising equaliser, and only a minute later the home side had extended their lead.
This time, the goal was not without some controversy; Clint Bolton appeared to be impeded as a corner flew over from the right (shades of Angelo Costanzo’s subtle shoving in November); Fernando Rech, outjumping Timpano, headed inexorably home.
Adelaide had the wind in their sails; Sydney looked understandably demoralised, and on 38 minutes another half-chance fell to the South Australians, Cornthwaite heading a long free kick from Ross Aloisi over the top.
Against all expectations, the fate of the game took another turn two minutes later.
Carney, receiving the ball on the right, flicked a deft reverse pass down the wing, to coincide with Matthew Bingley’s diagonal run. The veteran sent a superb cross into the Adelaide goalmouth, and Petrovski stooped to head the equaliser as the flat-footed Adelaide defenders stood by.
After such a vibrant, dramatic first half, the spectators must have been looking forward to further pyrotechnics after the break. Sadly, the second half was to prove an insomnia cure.
Packer replaced the luckless Timpano at the interval, and Mark Milligan would look far more comfortable following his resultant move into central defence in the second period.
There were few chances. Carney could not take advantage of Alvin Ceccoli’s purposeful run and pass on 64 minutes; the replacement of the adventurous Zadkovich by Terry McFlynn two minutes later seemed to indicate that Littbarski was happy with a draw.
The game struggled on. Both sides looked exhausted and short of ideas; the comments of last week’s distinguished guest, Aime Jacquet, on the tiredness of the two sides seemed pertinent now.
Veart again fouled Milligan clumsily ten minutes from full-time, and this time he did receive a yellow card. An incensed Petrovski managed to collect one himself, when a push on the Adelaide veteran produced a theatrical tumble. Carl Veart will not be the most welcome visitor to Aussie Stadium next week…
The final whistle was greeted by sustained cheers from the Campsie. Advantage Sydney, without doubt.
Sydney FC: Bolton; Milligan, Rudan, Timpano (Packer), Ceccoli; Carney, Yorke, Bingley, Zadkovich (McFlynn); Corica; Petrovski (Ozbey).