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Match report: Sydney FC vs Melbourne City – 26/2/22

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Discuss the match here.

Near enough isn’t good enough if you want to win games, and Sydney FC are in danger of missing out on the finals. The Sky Blues fashioned enough chances to win against Melbourne City, but again, lacked the cool heads and ruthless precision of previous years.

Sydney are in sixth spot, but every team underneath them has enough games in hand to catch the Sky Blues. Sydney are dictating play, but not seizing points. The chances to find true form are running out.

Sydney dominated the first half, but City scored via their first shot through a classic counter that underlined their speed and incision, and Sydney’s lack of the same. In the second half, Sydney responded with a scrappy goal from a corner. A heavy pitch, tired legs and poor decisions made for a scrappy finale until Matthew Leckie snuck a shot from outside the box just inside the near post.

Key moments:

Highlights are available here.

  • 10: Mustafa Amini released Adam Le Fondre down the right and Thomas Glover came a ludicrous distance to fail to reach the ball. Le Fondre lobbed for an open goal but shot well wide when he should have scored.
  • 15: Anthony Caceres was invited to shoot from outside the box, but his strike swung over the bar.
  • 17: Rhyan Grant overlapped onto a long pass from Amini and got into the box at pace, but stumbled, perhaps anticipating contact, and the moment was lost.
  • 21: Amini released Grant again, this time putting it onto his head at the edge of the six yard box. But Grant tried to square to Le Fondre, rather than shoot from point blank range.
  • 31: Glover again ventured out to head clear, and Anthony Caceres declined a low-percentage chance to volley. The aftermath eventually fell to Milos Ninkovic, who snapped an instinctive shot a little too close to Glover.
  • OWN GOAL 32: From a corner, Amini’s shot from distance cannoned off Carl Jenkinson and fell beautifully for a City counter. Andrew Nabbout found Jamie MacLaren, and he squared to Matthew Leckie, who shot too close to Andrew Redmayne. But the ball bounced straight into Paolo Retre’s feet, and back into the net.
  • 50: Florin Berenguer swept around James Donachie and crossed: the ball fell to a crowded Connor Metcalfe who smashed it over the bar from close range.
  • GOAL 52: From a Sydney corner, James Donachie’s header wasn’t cleared and fell to Milos Ninkovic, who flashed a shot into the goal.
  • 53: The cruellest miss: Sydney broke quickly, Elvis Kamsoba finding Grant, who squared. Le Fondre let the ball run to a totally-unmarked Ninkovic, who shot over an onrushing Glover, but also well over the bar.
  • 64: Kamsoba was released on a break and Glover punched clear, looking suspiciously outside his box. But the offside flag went up, sparing Glover from another shocker.
  • 77: Following a cleared O’Toole cross, Nabbout was released down the right. He ran at Wilkinson and found MacLaren, but the striker’s touch let him down.
  • GOAL 90+: City possession on the right corner of the box fell to Leckie, who cut onto his left foot and snuck a shot under the onrushing Max Burgess and just past Redmayne’s stretch at the near post.

SFCU player of the match:

Vote for the player of the match here.

In a night of Sydney inconsistency, Musti Amini is my man of the match. He was partly at fault for City’s opening goal, but was also the architect of most of Sydney’s chances. He strode positively through the lines, though some passes were poorly selected or measured. Amini is clearly still recovering to proper match fitness. If he can find that other gear, Sydney have the engine for a real recovery.

3 points: Mustafa Amini
1 point: Anthony Caceres
1 point: Rhyan Grant
1 point: Alex Wilkinson

What they said:

Sourced from the club match report.

Steve Corica: “I’m shattered for the players, because I thought they played extremely well and did their jobs.  We were the better team.
“A point probably wouldn’t have been deserved, I thought we were the better team but we’ve ended up with nothing.
“It’s disappointing for everyone and I’m very frustrated because we needed to win today.
“That’s the way football goes sometimes it’s very harsh and you’ve got to take it on the chin and keep playing like that and the results will start to come.”

Key stats:

Sydney FC: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE, 2. James DONACHIE, 4. Alex WILKINSON ©, 6. Mustafa AMINI, 8. Paulo RETRE, 10. Milos NINKOVIC (22. Max BURGESS79’), 14. Adam LE FONDRE (9. BOBÔ 59’), 17. Anthony CACERES, 23. Rhyan GRANT, 25. Callum TALBOT (5. Connor O’TOOLE 59’), 27. Elvis KAMSOBA (11. Kosta BARBAROUSES 69’).

Unused Subs: 20. Tom HEWARD-BELLE (GK), 3. Ben WARLAND, 12. Trent BUHAGIAR.

Yellow Cards:  Grant 41’, O’Toole 66’, Barbarouses 92’.

Red Cards: None.

Melbourne City FC: 1. Thomas GLOVER (GK), 2. Scott GALLOWAY (3. Scott JAMIESON 46’), 4. Nuno PEREIRA REIS, 5. Rostyn GRIFFITHS (23. Marco TILIO 60’), 6. Carl JENKINSON, 7. Mathew LECKIE, 9. Jamie MACLAREN (17. Stefan COLAKOVSKI 93’), 10. Florin BERENGUER-BOHRER (14. Tsubasa ENDO 82’), 15. Andrew NABBOUT, 18. Connor METCALFE, 22. Curtis GOOD.

Subs: 33. Matthew SUTTON (GK), 16. Taras GOMULKA, 36. Kerrin STOKES.

Yellow Cards: Berenguer 72’, MacLaren 73’.

Red Cards: None.

Next game:

Sydney travel to Parramatta to play the Western Sydney Warriors, at 7:45pm Saturday March 5.