Suncorp Stadium. 16 November, 2012. The opening game of Round 7 was dubbed as a revenge match between Besart Berisha and Pascal Bosschaart. In truth, it was a mere subplot to the clash of two cellar dwellers. Both teams desperately needed three points.
It is a testament to the evenness of the A-League that Brisbane and Sydney find themselves at the bottom of the table. Brisbane have been the team to beat over the past two seasons, while Sydney FC have stolen the headlines with thanks to star signing Alessandro Del Piero.
With the departure of Ian Crook after last week’s loss to Melbourne Victory, Sydney are in disarray, while Brisbane are under immense pressure after some less than impressive performances under new head coach Rado Vidosic.
Steve Corica made few changes to Sydney’s squad. In came Terry McFlynn to partner Paul Reid in the middle, with Ali Abbas pushed to his preferred position on the left. Mitch Malia was dropped from the squad altogether as Joel Chainese returned from injury, taking his place on the bench.
After some early dominance, Brisbane took the lead on the half hour mark as Henrique waltzed through Sydney’s midfield before being brought down by Sebastian Ryall. From the resulting free kick, Thomas Broich’s dangerous cross into the box was allowed to bounce, confusing goalkeeper Ivan Necevski who was caught flat footed on his line.
Sydney, consistent as ever, started with a defensive error. Unfortunately, there were more to come.
Two minutes later, Brisbane’s Herculean midfielder Eric Paartalu was on the end of another Thomas Broich cross. His header flew straight at Necevski, who fumbled the ball straight back into the path of Paartalu, who capitalised on his second chance.
With things looking dire for Sydney, a frustrated Alessandro Del Piero decided to take matters into his own hands. Recieving the ball in space, but still thirty yards from goal, Del Piero drove the ball sweetly with his left, putting his team right back into the game.
However, instead of going into half time with the momentum, Sydney had another defensive lapse, allowing Ben Halloran far too much space on the right. While their may have been a hint of passive offside, the truth is, there were still six Sydney players inside the box, not one of whom closed down Halloran. They were more bunched then an Under Six side. Credit, however, must go to Halloran for a fine finish.
Two goals down at half time, Sydney were in need of something special. Typically, it was their marquee player who took the intiative, finishing a nice ball from Yairo Yau on 49 minutes. It was a timely goal, again wasted by Sydney’s poor defence.
Just like Henrique in the first half, Besart Berisha was allowed to stroll through the middle of the field, drawing four defenders as he bore down on goal. Gliding past them all, Berisha’s left foot strike was the killer blow for Sydney.
What to say about Sydney at the moment? Usually, I would go through who looked good on the ball and where improvements could be made. But I give up. Just give the ball to Del Piero. Hoping for the others to perform, and for the team to function as a unit seems an exercise in self-delusion.
Whoever is appointed to coach the team for the rest of this season has an unenviable task. We wait in hope for the dead-cat bounce.