Sydney FC 2 (Antonis 49′, Powell 66′)
Adelaide United 1 (Juric 78′)
Crowd: 15,602 at Allianz Stadium. 16th February 2013
Last week the board at Sydney FC signed interim coach Frank Farina on a two year deal. It was a vote in confidence for the manager, and a sign that Sydney are looking for stability.
With Brett Emerton and Ali Abbas both out, the two Terry’s – Antonis and McFlynn – were drafted into the midfield, alongside Peter Triantis and Rhyan Grant. The backline remained unchanged, while Blake Powell partnered Alessandro Del Piero up front.
The first half remained a cagey affair, with Sydney looking the most dangerous, particularly through their marquee man, who was fouled continually as he held up the ball.
Fabio and Rhyan Grant combined well defensively down the left hand side, providing plenty of energy to nullify Adelaide’s attacks. With Jeronimo Neumann, Marcelo Carrusca and Dario Vidosic in the side, the Reds had plenty of attacking talent, but were unable to combine effectively.
But if the first half was a stalemate, the second half opened right up after Terry Antonis put Sydney ahead just after the interval. A quick switch of play by Del Piero and Reid opened up space for Antonis down the left channel. After a questionable first touch, Antonis shot with his left foot, sending Eugene Galekovic the wrong way as it deflected off an Adelaide defender.
Antonis, who has struggled to get any consistent game time this season, pumped both fists with joy. It might be the moment that kick-starts his season.
Ten minutes later, as Antonis peeled away down the right, former Sydney defender Antony Golec lunged in dangerously with a two footed challenge. What could have been a straight red was given a yellow, and luckily the goalscorer was able to continue.
On 67 minutes, another of Sydney’s youth brigade scored, this time in a messy goalmouth scrap. After Adam Griffiths flicked the ball towards goal, Blake Powell was able to get the decisive touch, poking the ball between Galekovic’s legs.
It looked like game over for Adelaide until Sergio Melta brought on new signing Tomi Jurić, who made an immediate impact. Collecting a long pass from Galekovic, Jurić outpaced Adam Griffiths, who (not for the first time this season) was caught out of position on the half-way line. Setting himself, the young striker drove the ball home with a fantastic finish.
Jurić, who has recently returned to the A-League after a couple of seasons in Croatia, looks an exciting prospect for the Reds. Tall, strong and eager, Jurić may fill the void left by Sergio van Dijk.
The game finished 2-1 to Sydney, who deserved all three points. For Farina, he now has a massive selection headache, with Lucas Neill, Joel Griffiths and Brett Emerton all set to return next week. It will be a good test to see whether form or reputation is the deciding factor for the new Sydney coach.