Sydney FC’s second win of the season was achieved in far more impressive style than their first.
It was Alex Brosque’s superbly-taken goal which eventually won the day, but Sydney might well have added to their score in the second half.
Branko Culina made only one change to the side that had ground out a win at Suncorp Stadium; Juninho, his shoulder now sufficiently recovered, returned to the starting eleven at the expense of Ufuk Talay.
Gary van Egmond faced a number of selection problems, not least the late withdrawal of Joel Griffiths, who was declared unfit during the pre-game warm-up. Tarek Elrich took his place, while Paul Kohler replaced the suspended Stuart Musialik in the midfield anchor role. There were three other changes; Mario Jardel received his first A-League start, replacing his compatriot Denni, while Steve Laybutt returned to Australian football in central defence, with Andrew Durante unavailable. Jobe Wheelhouse was preferred to Troy Hearfield in midfield.
Brosque and Steve Corica both had half-chances in the first ten minutes, while referee Craig Zetter flashed some early yellow cards at certain over-exuberant Newcastle players.
With Newcastle far too static in attack and Sydney FC not playing with sufficient width, the first half was fairly sterile. Twice Matt Thompson got forward to good effect on the Newcastle left, but on both occasions his cross was disappointing. Mario Jardel did pitifully little at the point of the attack, managing just the one off-target snap-shot on 34 minutes.
A couple of minutes later, Sydney FC scored the only goal of the game, from a fine move. With a number of Newcastle players committed upfield, the ball broke to Juninho in the middle; the Brazilian slid a superb pass through to coincide with Brosque’s diagonal run. Outpacing a ponderous Laybutt and turning Jade North nicely, Brosque curled the ball past the advancing Ante Covic.
Troy Hearfield replaced the ineffective Jardel at the break, and Newcastle briefly rallied; Adam Griffiths headed a free kick from Adam D’Apuzzo over the bar on 53 minutes, and Hearfield began to make some purposeful excursions on the right.
On the hour mark, however, Sydney began to take control of the game, and for the next 15 minutes they produced some of the best football seen in the competition this year.
The passing was crisp and inventive, the movement off the ball was intelligent, and the chances came thick and fast. Brendan Santalab headed over from a Brosque cross; Juninho shot just wide after Newcastle had given the ball away in their own area, and then Mark Rudan and Santalab both had their shots at goal blocked following a corner.
Although Sydney FC began to lose their rhythm somewhat in the final fifteen minutes, the win rarely looked in doubt. Ufuk Talay replaced a tiring Corica on 74 minutes, and soon afterwards Denni made his expected appearance, replacing Wheelhouse.
It was the young Brazilian who would have Newcastle’s best chance; another free kick from D’Apuzzo reached Denni in the box on 88 minutes, but his gentle flick was held easily by Clint Bolton, who will have had few quieter nights than this.
Sydney FC: Bolton; Casey, Rudan, Milligan, Fyfe; Zadkovich, McFlynn; Santalab, Juninho (Patrick), Corica (Talay); Brosque.
Newcastle United Jets: Covic; D’Apuzzo, North, Laybutt, Thompson; Kohler; Wheelhouse (Denni), A.Griffiths; Elrich (Hoffman), Jardel (Hearfield), Bridge.