2018 FFA Cup – Round of 16
Cairns FC 1 – 2 Sydney FC
Tuesday 21 August 2018
Kick off: 7:30pm
While things looked a little shaky in the first half there, the Sky Blues saw off a tougher-than-expected challenge from Cairns FC. The locals went ahead early and held on, but eventually the superior quality of the Sydney players told. Two quick-fire goals in the 64th and 66th minutes meant that Sydney went ahead and looked dominant through the end, until there was a rough penalty call against Calver. Remayne made a superb penalty save to keep it at 2-1, which we saw through to the end.
In terms of general play, we looked comfortable and dominant. We often looked to push the ball out wide to Zullo, whose crosses just weren’t finding targets. Ninkovic of course was putting in through-balls and was linking up with Zullo really well. Our main problem was getting on the end of those chances. There were times where we just didn’t have enough players in the box, with Brosque sometimes preferring to drop deep and Buhagiar not looking entirely comfortable with the striker role which was asked from him. Retre was also playing in the right attacking midfield slot and the fact that he was being played out of position probably accounted for him not offering a great deal.
Regardless, these problems will hopefully be fixed by Adam Le Fondre and Siem de Jong joining us and De Silva returning from injury, giving us more classy options up front.
Grant returned from injury here and played almost 90 minutes, which is a huge effort from the fan favourite. He looked very rusty and clearly will take some time to get back to his previous levels (particularly his very high work-rate), but for now it is just great to see him back out there.
Credit to Jop van der Linden as well on his competitive debut. He hit the frame twice from free kicks. On the second effort, the ball probably crossed the line but neither the referee nor the linesperson gave it, so it didn’t stand. Generally, his set piece delivery was very good, certainly close to what Adrian was producing last season. The Dutchman looked solid on the ball, though very one-footed, which meant he was constantly looking to pass into midfield rather than out wide to Zullo. He made a couple of small errors in defence but those can probably be put down to communication problems which will hopefully pass as he gets used to his teammates.
- Cavanah – 16″ – A goalmouth scramble following a corner isn’t cleared particularly well and the Cairns player rockets it through the melee.
- Brosque – 64″ (pen.) – A clear handball from a Ninkovic cross sees Sydney given a penalty. Brosque puts it past the keeper calmly.
- Buhagiar – 66″ – Ninkovic puts a through ball in. Buhagiar plays himself past the defender and into space, with an unconventional left-footed finish completing the move.
- Penalty save – 75″ – Redmayne chooses the right direction and gets low and to his right to save.
- Redmayne – 8 – A penalty save and some other good efforts to keep us in the game. He wasn’t called on too often, but came up big when we needed him.
- Zullo – 6.5 – Provided a lot going forward and put in some good balls. Took two shots on goal with his right foot, which was a bit of a laugh.
- van der Linden – 6.5 – VAR would have given him a goal. Great set pieces in general, but some teething issues as he settles.
- Calver – 5.5 – Gave up the penalty, though it was probably a harsh call. Didn’t have too much to do and covered for v.d. Linden when he had to.
- Grant – 5.5 – Very rusty but just great to have him back. Played better in the second half as he got used to it.
- Brillante – 5.5 – Better than he has been in the rest of preseason and in the previous Cup game. Dropped deep to support and covered Grant at right back when Grant went forward. Positive signs.
- O’Neill – 6 – Provided a lot of the impetus for us coming out of midfield and put in his usual tidy, workmanlike performance.
- Ninkovic – 7.5 – His creativity really shone through. He provided the assist and the cross which won the penalty.
- Brosque – 6 – A good, solid performance with a well-taken penalty. Put in some really good sprints as well, which was great to see. Had a chance he should have buried though.
- Retre – 4 – As said above, was played out of position on the right side of attack. Didn’t provide much, but I guess you can’t blame him for that.
- Buhagiar – 6.5 – Was anonymous at times, but took his goal well. Linked up well with Ninkovic as he has through preseason.
- Lokolingoy (sub 80″) – 5 – Didn’t really get a whole of chances.
- Zuvela (sub 88″) – 5 – Came on too late to really get a good sense.