Sydney FC 0
NRMA Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Hersi 24′, Beauchamp 77′)
Crowd: 26,176 at Allianz Stadium. 15th December, 2012.
After Sydney FC took inaugural bragging rights in Parramatta a little over two months ago, the second Sydney derby belonged to the Wanderers. And deservedly so.
As in Parramatta, the atmosphere for the game was immense as several thousand Western Sydney fans made the trip into the city. The away end pulsated from beginning to end, something not seen at the SFS since Urawa Red Diamonds came to Sydney in 2007.
There were flares and banners at both ends as the both sets of fans made their presence felt. Thankfully, the RBB – unlike in Round Three – were able to refrain from displaying their casual homophobia, and put on an excellent display to rival the Cove.
With both teams coming off morale boosting wins, it promised to be an excellent match. However, as is the case with many grudge matches, the play was largely scrappy as both teams failed to find any rhythm in the first half. The Wanderers, true to form, were rock solid in defense, pressing Sydney constantly and causing many long balls from the back, which Michael Beauchamp and Nikolai Topor-Stanley dealt with easily.
With captain Terry McFlynn suspended and Ali Abbas dropped, Sydney welcomed returning Socceroos Terry Antonis and Brett Emerton back to the starting line-up. However, neither made any great impression on the game, although Antonis had some fine touches in the middle of the park.
On 15 minutes, Wanderers import Iacopo La Rocca wasted an excellent chance as Sydney’s defenders allowed him to waltz through the midfield, only for the Italian to drag his shot wide. A minute later, Vedran Janjetović was almost caught out by a clever strike from Shinji Ono, which sailed just wide of the target. It was a sign of things to come for the Wanderers marquee man.
With a steady foundation at the back, the Wanderers were able to push forward, and on 24 minutes Youssef Hersi scored after some slack defending from Sydney FC.
Scoring has been a difficult task for Western Sydney, however, with the monkey off their backs early, they began to play with more confidence, and Shinji Ono started to impose himself on the game. On the half-hour mark his lofted shot almost doubled the advantage, before he set up Hersi with another chance down the right-hand channel.
After half-time, Blake Powell’s long range effort caused a good save from Wanderers keeper Ante Čović. Sadly, it was one of just a few chances that Sydney FC created all game.
On the hour mark, Yairo Yau was replaced by Ali Abbas, who assumed his role on the left wing. Ten minutes later, Jason Čulina was taken off, and Alessandro Del Piero was brought on to rapturous applause from the Sydney FC fans.
However, the Italian maestro was unable to deliver as the Wanderers continued to press forward. On 77 minutes, a sweeping cross from Shinji Ono threaded through Sydney’s defensive line all the way to Michael Beauchamp at the back post, who buried his shot from six yards out.
After a much-improved performance last week away to Wellington, Sydney’s lack of organisation and creativity showed just how far the team has to go to turn their season around. They sat far too deep, and were unable to find any space between the Wanderers’ tight defensive lines.
Full credit must go to Western Sydney. Shinji Ono, after a quiet settling in period, seems to have found his rhythm in the team. It seems Tony Popovic’s side is a top goalscorer away from being a title contender.
For Sydney FC, its back to basics as they remain anchored to the bottom of the table.