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Sydney FC 1 – Wellington Phoenix 2

Sydney FC is still without a win in the 2007/08 A-League season, after a disappointing loss to the new outfit from across the Tasman.Ruben Zadkovich and Mark Milligan were back from Olyroo, duty and both rejoined the Sydney starting eleven, as did “fringe Socceroo” Alex Brosque. Juninho’s reported recovery from his shoulder strain did not see him picked in Branko Culina’s squad. For the Phoenix, it was a by now familiar line-up, with Felipe once again preferred to Vaughan Coveny. The game began with a goal out of nowhere. After an early attempt by Richard Johnson, a straightforward long ball from deep in Sydney FC’s half was badly misjudged by Tony Lochhead; it broke to the advancing Adam Casey, who slid the ball past Glen Moss and into the far corner. Sydney’s ponderous defence would cost them their lead, however. In the eighth minute, Felipe received the ball in midfield, waltzed past two bemused Sydney defenders and slammed a left-footed shot past Clint Bolton. Sydney FC were momentarily shaken into action, with Ufuk Talay and Alex Brosque both going close in the succeeding minutes. Yet by the twenty-minute mark, the game had slowed down considerably, and soon Wellington took the lead. Daniel received the ball in the Sydney box, and appeared to be elbowed by Ruben Zadkovich. A penalty was given, and although Daniel was required to retake the kick, he sent it safely into the far corner of the net on both occasions. Both teams lacked the enterprise to open up the opposition defence for the remainder of the half, which was featureless. The second half opened in a similar vein, with Sydney FC in particular passing the ball around neatly but creating no openings. A disappointing Patrick was duly replaced by Brendan Santalab, while Adam Casey, who had faded after his early goal, gave way to Robbie Middleby. Sydney reverted to a back three, and rallied somewhat. A surging run down the left by Middleby ended in a cross to Brosque, who hit the outside of the post after an uncharacteristic mistake by Karl Dodd. Then, after Daniel had gone wide at the other end, Santalab’s impressive run in the inside-left channel ended with a crisp cut-back which just evaded the Sydney players in the box. There were two more good chances for the side in blue; Talay, on the edge of the box, blazed a cross-shot wide of goal in the 80th minute, and shortly afterwards Brosque sent a gem of a ball to Middleby on the left, but the substitute’s control let him down, and Moss was able to smother the shot. That was that for Sydney FC, although there were claims for a penalty when a high boot connected with Middleby in the box a couple of minutes from the end. Congratulations to the Wellington Phoenix for their first win in the A-League. For Sydney FC, the frustration continues. Sydney FC: Bolton; Zadkovich, Rudan (Zdrilic), Popovic, Fyfe; Talay, Milligan; Casey (Middleby), Corica, Brosque; Patrick (Santalab). Wellington Phoenix: Moss; Christie, O’Dor, Dodd, Lochhead (Old); Johnson, Aloisi; Ferrante, Felipe (Coveny), Daniel; Smeltz.