Sydney FC provided their fans with a late show once more, but this time the last-minute goal sealed all three points for the Sky Blues in a cracking game against Gold Coast United at the SFS.
In the absence of young star Terry Antonis, Hiro Moriyasu was handed a rare start for Sydney. Gold Coast United, for their part, fielded an unchanged eleven following their win over Newcastle in Round 4.
Neither side managed to impose themselves in a disjointed opening few minutes. Sydney, however, soon began crafting chances. Nick Carle’s sharp cutback from the left by-line just eluded Karol Kisel on 12 minutes, and these two combined again a few minutes later when Kisel touched off an inviting free kick to Carle, who blasted his shot into the Gold Coast wall. Then it was Kisel again, timing his run to connect with a Brett Emerton cross from the left; Gold Coast keeper Glen Moss did well to save Kisel’s close-range volley.On 22 minutes, against the run of play, the visitors opened the scoring with a simple set-piece goal. Robson’s corner from the right reached Kristian Rees, and the big defender, too loosely marked by Jamie Coyne, planted his header past Liam Reddy.
Mark Bridge, playing alone up front for Sydney, came agonisingly close to an equaliser twice around the half-hour mark. His first effort, a right-footed drive from the edge of the area, required a good save from Moss; the second, a deft lob following a long goalkick upfield, eluded the Goal Coast custodian but was brilliantly cleared off the line by Michael Twat. Bridge had another chance on 33 minutes following a corner, but his attempt to deflect Emerton’s shot into the goal found Moss alert.
Sydney’s spell of pressure continued, and Carle could consider himself very unlucky on 39 minutes, when a sweeping right-wing move ended at his left foot. Unleashing an accurate piledriver from 18 yards, he was dismayed to see the ball deflect wide off Dylan McGowan.
Vitezslav Lavicka brought on Bruno Cazarine for Moriyasu at the break, hoping to intensify his side’s initiative. The immediate sequel, however, was another goal for the visitors. A fine through-ball from Peter Jungschlager released Dylan McAllister, and the experienced Gold Coast striker rounded Reddy adeptly before finishing well from a narrow angle.
If Sydney FC were demoralised, they did not show it. Soon after the goal they had re-established their territorial dominance, and gradually the chances started to arrive. A superb ball from Kisel released Emerton on the left on 56 minutes, and Mark Bridge just failed to make the most of the veteran Socceroo’s cross. Then, on the hour, the recovery began.
From a corner, the ball was cleared to Pascal Bosschaart on Sydney’s right. A well-flighted inswinging cross arrived, and Cazarine leapt over the away side’s defence to score a trademark headed goal.
Three minutes later, amazingly, the scores were level. This time it was Carle who got forward down the left and backheeled a neat pass to Bridge; the latter’s shot was intercepted, but Carle had continued his run and slammed the loose ball past Moss at his near post.
Sydney were briefly back on their heels when Robson’s audacious 30-yard free kick forced a tip-over from Reddy on 67 minutes. McAllister too had a chance soon afterwards, as the game headed for a lively finish.
With the minutes ticking away, Sydney undertook a final push. Emerton, whose artful flicks and feints were becoming a torment to the visitors as the game wore on, set up Carle for a shot on 79 minutes, which the Sydney No.10 thundered wide.
In the final five minutes of normal time, a succession of Sydney moves came to a halt just shy of goal, and it looked like Lavicka’s men would have to settle for a point. Nevertheless, just as they had the week before, the men in sky blue saved the last act for injury time.
After a blistering Scott Jamieson shot was acrobatically tipped over by Moss, the ball eventually reached Michael Beauchamp from the corner. A clumsy tackle on the defender by Goal Coast substitute Ambesager Yosief, and referee Peter Green pointed to the spot. Kisel took the responsibility, and made no mistake, sending the ball low into the left-hand corner of the goal. A crucial win for the 2009/10 champions, who thereby lift themselves into fourth place.