Another game, another loss. There is a growing inevitability to Sydney’s poor performances, illustrated by the low attendance at the Sydney Football Stadium. Just a little over a month ago, Sydney lined up against Newcastle in front of a packed gallery. Three home games later, crowds are in free-fall.
Friday night football has never been kind to attendance figures. However after only 13,317 fans turned up, it was clear that even with Alessandro Del Piero in the side, there is only so much poor football punters are willing to put up with.
With Jason Čulina and Terry Antonis returning to the squad, Paul Reid was dropped, while Krunoslav Lovrek looks to well on the outer. Sydney started with Terry McFlynn, Ali Abbas and Antonis in the middle, while Del Piero was pushed forward to work with Brett Emerton and Yairo Yau on either wing.
Adam Griffiths returned to his centre-back position, meaning Sebastian Ryall was pushed to right fullback and Rhyan Grant was sacrificed to the bench.
From the outset, there seemed little energy in Sydney’s performance. Del Piero appeared frustrated, and seems to have lost faith in his teammates. Who can blame him? With Ivan Necevski repeatedly booting aimless long balls from goal kicks, it didn’t look like Sydney even wanted to play football.
Yet if Sydney were bad, the refereeing was worse. Adelaide had a legitimate and well constructed goal disallowed for offside early in the match, despite the fact that Jeronimo Neumann had clearly timed his run perfectly. While the standard of play has risen in the A-League, the refereeing lags embarrassingly behind.
Adelaide were immediately purposeful in attack, building around their playmaker Dario Vidosic. While the hype around Tomas Rogic at the Central Coast Mariners has drawn attention away from Vidosic, the young attacker has quietly gone about his business with great rewards for Adelaide.
Indeed, it was Vidosic’s exquisite touch on 21 minutes that opened up the space for Fabio Ferreira to put Adelaide in front.
As Sydney plodded along, things looked negative going into the second half. And then Del Piero got angry. Reacting to a challenge from Osama Malik, the marquee man immediately injected some much needed feeling into the otherwise sterile match. Del Piero lifted, the Cove got louder, and suddenly the team began to attack with purpose.
Minutes later, a lofted ball from deep by Pascal Bosschaart was made to look brilliant by Yairo Yau, who raced past Iain Fyfe and finished smartly.
Immediately, interim coach Steve Corica made an attacking substitution, replacing McFlynn with Joel Chianese. Del Piero dropped deeper to find the ball, while Jason Čulina replaced Ali Abbas in the middle. The standing ovation was a nice touch from the crowd as Čulina made his first appearance after a long injury absence.
The substitutions made little difference, however, as Sydney failed to penetrate Adelaide’s defense. As the game looked headed for a draw, Brett Emerton over-committed in the middle of the park, allowing Nigel Boogard to carry the ball forward into space. After a neat one-two with Bruce Djite, Boogard thrashed the ball against the crossbar. Falling in a dangerous area, Evan Kostopolous took an air-wing, but there was still time for Dario Vidosic to drive the ball into the net.
Comic defending again from Sydney FC, and the game was lost. Sydney are bottom of the table, and deservedly so.