Sydney FC 0 – Adelaide United 1
Sydney FC 0 – Adelaide United 1 Sydney FC’s poor home form continued with a loss to the A-League’s form team. Adam Casey returned to the Sydney team after his Olyroo exertions, but the influential Mark Milligan had picked up a calf strain in Lebanon, and was ruled unfit to play. There were two other changes, Robbie Middleby returning from injury to start on the right side of defence, while Nick Tsattalios received his long-awaited A-League debut. Not surprisingly, Aurelio Vidmar chose to keep faith with the Adelaide eleven that had thumped Melbourne Victory last week. There were two early chances in the game; Cassio, whose frequently broke into attack from his left-back position, blazed wide in the second minute, while Juninho had a crack at goal a minute later. The end-to-end nature of the game continued, with Travis Dodd having a close-range shot well saved by Clint Bolton, and Adam Casey firing over the top at the other end. Although the game did not settle into a true rhythm in the first half, with both sides giving away possession frequently, Adelaide had marginally the better of the opening half-hour. There were few genuine chances, however; a Sydney free kick within the Adelaide area (after Daniel Beltrame had handled a back-pass) went to waste, while a fierce cross-shot from Jason Spagnuolo on 22 minutes was turned aside for a corner by an alert Bolton. From the thirty-minute mark, Sydney began to take control. Twice Adam Casey, moving over to the right, motored past his man and crossed dangerously; on the first occasion, Patrick was there to volley against the Adelaide bar. A few minutes later it was Casey again, this time in the centre, who fired wide after a deft passing move. At the other end, Bolton was called into action again when a dipping corner was almost bundled over the line by Adelaide’s Diego. Aurelio Vidmar made two changes at half-time; Milan Susak made a rare appearance in defence, replacing an ineffective Richie Alagich, while Nathan Burns made his expected entry, in place of Jason Spagnuolo. The away side also switched to three at the back, leaving Cassio and Travis Dodd to patrol the touchlines. The tactical alteration bore fruit almost immediately. After Cassio’s fierce cross-shot was blocked on its way to goal, Dodd, switching wings, surged past a flat-footed Sydney defence on the right, and cut the ball back smartly for Lucas Pantelis. The latter’s left-footed bullet eluded Bolton and whistled into the far corner. Casey, Sydney’s best player of the night, tried to revive his side with another fine run on the right, but the resulting corner went to waste. Soon afterwards, Branko Culina made his first change, replacing Nick Tsattalios (who had performed very creditably) with Brendan Santalab. Cassio, again exploiting Sydney’s weakness on the right, sauntered forward and sent a low cross in to Dez Giraldi, whose side-footed volley slid just wide of goal. Patrick, for once finding room to shoot on 66 minutes, failed to trouble Beltrame. Then, more cause for the Cove to groan, with Adam Casey picking up a knock to his ankle which forced him out of action. Terry McFlynn took his place. The last twenty minutes of the game followed a regular pattern; Sydney FC massed around the Adelaide area while the away side relied on breakaways for the insurance of a second goal. Aurelio Vidmar’s men began giving away a number of needless free kicks, but Sydney FC’s delivery was too predictable. David Zdrilic replaced Patrick on 81 minutes, but the home side’s modus operandi remained essentially the same. It almost paid off when the ball ran loose from a corner a few minutes from the close, but there was no Sydney player there to tap in. At the other end, Adelaide should have sealed matters when Kristian Sarkies, a substitute for Giraldi, found himself alone in front of goal in injury time, with an eternity to pick his shot. Bolton saved superbly. In the end, however, it didn’t matter. Adelaide went to the top of the table, while Sydney FC slumped to another home defeat. Sydney FC: Bolton; Rudan, Popovic, Fyfe; Middleby, Juninho, Talay, Casey (McFlynn), Tsattalios (Santalab); Patrick (Zdrilic), Brosque. Adelaide United: Beltrame; Alagich (Susak), Cornthwaite, Costanzo, Cassio; Dodd, Diego, Salley, Spagnuolo (Burns); Pantelis; Giraldi (Sarkies).