A-League Round 10
Sydney FC 2 – 1 Brisbane Roar
Saturday 29 December 2018
Kick off: 7:50pm (Sydney time)
(Apologies for the lack of detail in this report, but the New Years period is getting in the way of my available time)
With John Aloisi stepping down as Roar head coach just before this game, there was always going to be a risk that Roar would really rise to the challenge and make this a surprisingly hard game. While we still were able to comfortably see it out, it still proved to be a greater challenge than it probably would have been if Aloisi had remained at the helm.
We opened this game strongly, with Milos Ninkovic and Michael Zullo in particular connecting well to cause trouble to a makeshift Roar backline. Indeed, it was Zullo who led to the first goal, when his cross from a wide area found the head of Adam Le Fondre, who knocked the ball over the keeper and into the back of the net. This was a real indication of something that was visible throughout this game, namely that Zullo’s crossing was looking better than it had throughout the rest of the season and was more reminiscent of how things were the last two seasons.
Our defence throughout much of the game was improved, with Andrew Redmayne making a couple of good saves throughout the game, including a lovely save where he was backtracking and had to tip the ball over. Aaron Calver’s superior speed was also helpful, allowing him to track defenders well.
However, after we scored the opening goal we switched off somewhat and, in the 35th minute, McKay was able to chest the ball into the back of the net. While those at the ground were unhappy with the call, in retrospect it looks like the right one was made.
With the game tied up at half time, we came out looking for a winner. The leading goal came from Le Fondre again, this time he received the ball in front of the keeper and, with a magnificent finish, placed the ball perfectly past Jamie Young, who was never going to get to it. The finish demonstrated once more that Le Fondre is arguably the best finisher the club has seen and certainly one of the top few strikers.
Once again, we were on top of the game but an error this time saw us concede a penalty. Calver, on an otherwise very good night, caught a Roar player’s foot in the box. Again, while it appeared to those in the ground that this was a dive, the replay showed that there was contact. Certainly, the contact was played up dramatically, but the penalty was still there to be given and this is why VAR didn’t overrule the referee. It all didn’t matter, however, as Redmayne pulled out his second penalty save of the season, reading the direction and height perfectly. This penalty save gave us a valuable three points in the race for the title, putting us second, behind only on goal difference.
You can view the match highlights here:
3 things we learned
- Corica has done a good job motivating the players at half time. One of the hallmarks of the Graham Arnold era was how strong we were in the second half of most games. This was partially down to the fitness of the players. Under Corica we have also started the second half of most games well, often passing better and being much more positive. This indicates that Corica may be quite good at motivating the players at half time and correcting some noticeable errors.
- Switching off after scoring has been a problem. In the game against Perth we switched off after scoring our second goal and that led to us conceding from a set piece. This time around, we started the game strongly but after Le Fondre scored the opener we took our foot off the gas. This allowed Brisbane to start to develop some scoring opportunities, eventually leading to the equaliser. While Corica has done a good job motivating the players at half time, he really needs to work on their concentration.
- Jubilee is starting to feel more like home. This isn’t so much about the playing group, but I think it’s fair to say that Jubilee is starting to feel more and more like our ground than it was earlier. The Cove were sounding better than they have in the previous games at Jubilee and the atmosphere was truly fantastic. There was notably more of a buzz around the place and the club deserves a lot of credit for making this transition such a positive experience.
- Adam Le Fondre’s twelve goals draws him equal with Sebastian Ryall (188 games) and, ironically, John Aloisi (40 games) in our all-time goalscoring charts. Le Fondre has now scored against seven of the nine other clubs in the league, with only Newcastle and Wellington missing.
- This was Brandon O’Neill’s 113th competitive appearance for the club (85 league and/or finals, 16 FFA Cup, 12 ACL), which means that he overtakes Vedran Janjetovic to become the outright tenth highest appearance maker for the club.
- This was the club’s second ever win at Jubilee. The previous win was also against Brisbane Roar in 2014.