Sydney FC 2 Adelaide United 1
| Sydney FC 2 – Adelaide United 1 |
A first home win, with both goals scored in front of the ever-buoyant Cove, against the team on top of the ladder…and all achieved without our marquee man. No wonder Pierre Littbarski described it as a “sweet win”.
It was all the sweeter for being registered against a side whose overly physical (some might say bloody rough) style of play has won them few friends in the early stages of the A-League, and whose coach cut a bitter, ungracious figure after the match.
Dwight Yorke’s duties with Trinidad & Tobago forced the only change to the side that defeated Perth Glory, with David Zdrilic returning to the attack. John Buonavoglia was a welcome addition to the Sydney bench, and although he only played a few minutes of the game, we are likely to see considerably more of him as the season progresses.
David Carney is fast becoming a Cove favourite, and his warm acknowledgement of their cheers, both during the warm-up and before kickoff, was greatly appreciated. Although he didn’t have his best game for Sydney FC, his contribution was ultimately crucial once again.
The first half was wretchedly poor.
Adelaide made their intentions plain from the outset with a number of unpleasant fouls, the worst of which was perpetrated on Petrovski after five minutes. Neveretheless, the first chance fell to Adelaide’s new signing Fernando Rech – still not fully fit, as his manager truculently asserted afterwards – who volleyed wildly, prompting the Cove to ask their usual question of wayward opposition strikers. “How wide…”
Ross Aloisi, still smarting from a knock picked up in training, was replaced on 12 minutes, and Adelaide, having lost their chief creator, continued to hack away. Sydney, it must be said, were found wanting in the creativity department in the first period as well, with plenty of passes going astray and little fluency in evidence. Terry McFlynn, on 17 minutes, at least forced a save from Beltrame, but it was a flash in the pan.
With Carney terribly isolated on the right and Corica struggling to find space, it was a dismal spectacle. The Cove was, not surprisingly, a little quieter than usual, although a good ball over the top from McFlynn to Carney brought them briefly back to full volume after half an hour.
Although Adelaide’s attacks had been repulsed with little trouble by the ever-improving Fyfe-Timpano combination, it would be nearly half-time before Sydney would find their rhythm in the attacking half.
Packer, for once getting forward on the right, whipped in a useful cross on 41 minutes; a few minutes later, Petrovski, the man chiefly responsible for sparking Sydney FC back into life in your correspondent’s opinion, went on a surging run through the Adelaide defence, drawing a roar of approval from the Cove. From the resulting corner, some excellent interplay from the Sydney midfield ended in Petrovski forcing a sharp save from Beltrame. Best keeper in the A-League? Well…
After a ludicrous yellow card for Andrew Packer and a well-worked Adelaide free kick which was thwarted by a Talay interception, it was half-time. The last five minutes of the half, it must be said, had offered far more entertainment than the entire opening 40 minutes.
Sydney had grown in stature towards the end of the half, and they showed far more confidence in the second period. Petrovski led the way with two fine runs in the opening minutes, and Jacob Timpano headed narrowly over from a set-piece soon after.
However, it was Adelaide who took the lead, very much against the run of play. From a corner by Qu, Michael Valkanis made a run into the box – mysteriously untracked – and met the ball with a powerful header which gave Bolton no chance. A disappointingly soft goal to concede, just as Sydney were gaining the initiative.
Not that they had entirely lost it. Indeed, they were level just three minutes later.
Another shot from outside the box by McFlynn – his accuracy with such shots has markedly improved of late – was fumbled badly by Beltrame. Carney, lurking intelligently, pounced, and immediately ran gratefully towards his beloved Bay 23. Back from a goal down, yet again!
With Corica and Carney finding space and form in the second half, and the whole team drawing renewed confidence as a result, the Cove was buzzing. Another Adelaide yellow card, this time for Costanzo, sent them into raptures on 58 minutes.
Adelaide, to their credit, were not supine; Qu, who worked hard all game, set up Fernando Rech on the hour mark; the Brazilian managed to find space for a shot, but put it over the top. Again, a few minutes later, fresh arrival Chad Bugeja had a palpable chance; but his shot, via a deflection, slammed into the post.
Then it was Sydney’s turn again. Petrovski headed just over, Ceccoli, on one of many runs forward, blazed a cross-shot wide, and Zdrilic – having a mixed evening – had his shot blocked after being set up by Petrovski. Then a possible foul on Petrovski just inside the box; claims for a penalty, a brief all-in brawl – Sydney were still searching.
The players were looking tired. Talay, in particular, went off the boil in the second half, and his long shot, on 84 minutes, went well wide. It was to be his last contribution; Robbie Middleby took his place before the restart of play. Soon afterwards, Carney too went, replaced by the speedy Buonavoglia.
The match looked to be drifting towards a draw, but Petrovski, tireless throughout, got his deserved reward on 88 minutes. A foul on the edge of the area, and Corica’s free kick reached Sash by the far post. From a deceptively difficult angle, he placed his shot expertly between Beltrame and the post. 2-1 Sydney – and the Cove erupted, Petrovski covering his face with his shirt and earning a yellow card for his troubles.
Two minutes into injury time came the great controversy.
With McFlynn prostrate in the middle of the pitch following an earlier challenge, Adelaide surged upfield, and after a tussle inside the box, in which Bolton was forced out of position, Richie Alagich was left with a header at goal. Jacob Timpano was in the way, and the clearance was eventually completed by Fyfe.
Did it hit Timpano’s arm? Did the ball cross the line?
Academic questions eventually, but they provided plenty for John Kosmina to feel indignant about afterwards.
2-1 it finished, with the Sydney FC players doing the rounds of the pitch before entering the tunnel, pausing significantly in front of a delirious Cove.
In the post-match press conference, Littbarski was typically muted, but satisfied. His opposite number, by contrast, appeared to have sampled some of the Barossa’s most unripe grapes on the way to the conference. Cheated, apparently. Conspired against by the entire universe. Treated to some “acting” by “Hollywood FC”.
Sour it was. But it couldn’t spoil the sweetness of the victory, from a Sydney FC point of view.
Sydney FC: Bolton; Packer, Timpano, Fyfe, Ceccoli; Carney (Buonavoglia), McFlynn (Bingley), Talay (Middleby), Corica; Petrovski, Zdrilic.
mikey @ syndeyfc-unofficial.com