Hyundai A-League Season 6

Sydney prevail despite Vukovic heroics
By Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of

A-League 2010/2011 - Round 26
7:00pm, Wednesday 9 February, 2011 - Sydney Football Stadium

Sydney FC 2
(Nick Ward o.g. 54', Brendan Gan 69')
Wellington Phoenix FC 0

(Photo by Stephen Webb for BOTN)

An outstanding display of goalkeeping by Wellington Phoenix’s Danny Vukovic wasn’t enough to earn his side the point they needed to qualify for the Hyundai A-League play-offs on February 9, as outgoing champions Sydney FC prevailed 2-0 at the Sydney Football Stadium.

The visitors’ custodian produced a string of superlative saves to entertain the 4,732 fans present, although it was Wellington who were first to fire a shot in anger, Troy Hearfield capping off a neat five-man move with a rasping twenty yard drive which Liam Reddy saved just fifty seconds after the game commenced.

Cue “The Danny Vukovic Show”, with the ‘keeper first called upon in the fourth minute. He followed up that sprawling save from Hirofumi Moriyasu’s 25-yarder by producing another fin save a minute later, as Sydney piled on the pressure in search of an early goal.

Nick Carle - at his impish best throughout - played in Juho Makela on the right, but before he had the chance to capitalise, Tony Lochhead dashed back to avert the danger. His hoisted clearance to half-way was headed back towards Wellington’s goal by Matt Jurman.

Jade North seemed quite content to let the ball pass him by, but Bruno Cazarine had different ideas, dashing past the defender to leave himself one-on-one with Vukovic, at whom the striker directed his shot.

The ‘keeper battered this effort to safety, then dived to his left to thwart Makela six minutes later, as Sydney carved gaping holes in a suspension-hit Wellington rearguard in which youngster James Musa all too often looked all at sea minus his life-jacket!

Thankfully for the visitors, Vukovic was in fine form, as proven by a double-save in the fourteenth minute. Carle dashed through to leave himself with the ’keeper to beat, only for Vukovic to block at the striker’s feet then recover to turn away Makela’s attempt to turn home the rebound.

A rare Wellington raid five minutes later saw Reddy produce a fine sprawling save to tip to safety a twenty-five yarder from Nick Ward, after which normal service resumed at the other end of the park.

A jinking run past five players by Carle culminated in the former Johnny Warren Medal winner back-heeling the ball into the stride of Moriyasu, whose curling twenty-yard drive brought a brilliant full-length save out of Vukovic in the 22nd minute.

After Chris Greenacre and Marco Rojas had fired warning shots across Sydney’s bows prior to the half-hour mark, and Musa had produced a fine tackle to thwart Makela on receipt of a Cazarine lay-off, Wellington were only denied the opening goal by the alert ‘keeping of Reddy, who saved at the feet of Greenacre after the precociously talented Rojas had cleverly outfoxed Jurman in the area before crossing low to the near post.

Back came Sydney, but once again, Vukovic was their nemesis. Shannon Cole’s ball in for Makela from the right saw the striker back-heel the sphere into the path of Terry McFlynn, who was thwarted at point-blank range by the ‘keeper in the 37th minute.

Better was to come from the agile custodian four minutes later, Makela linking with Cazarine to present Sydney’s leading marksman with a volleyed opening some twenty yards out. Vukovic flew to his left to produce a stunning one-handed save and keep his team in the contest.

After Tim Brown had stung the gloves of Reddy with a crisply struck twenty yard volley four minutes into the second half, North dashed across to curtail the charging Carle, the combined efforts of Makela and Cazarine sending him spearing through Wellington’s defence three minutes later.

When Carle next took on the Wellington rearguard, he got his reward. After working one-twos with both Moriyasu and Makela, he surged into the penalty area, and was promptly felled by Musa, who have referee Peter Green no option but to point to the spot.

Nick Carle picked himself up, dusted himself down and stepped up to do the business. Such was the form Vukovic was in, however, you’d have put your house on him saving the spot-kick.

Sure enough … and he followed up by blocking Carle’s attempt to turn home the rebound as well. It was at this point that Vukovic’s luck ran out, however, for the ricochet from this parried save flew straight into the face of the retreating figure of Ward and rebounded straight into the net off the distraught Wellington player.

Danny Vukovic didn’t deserve to be beaten in such bizarre fashion in the 54th minute, but Sydney wasted little time in celebrating their good fortune - they looked to build on it quickly, with Moriyasu inches away from doubling their lead courtesy a thirty-yarder sixty seconds later.

The closest Wellington came to fashioning an equaliser - in truth, they were a distinct second best throughout proceedings - came just before the hour mark, when Ward played Rojas in on the right.

The youngster took on and beat two opponents before crossing just beyond the incoming figure of Dylan MacAllister but into the stride of the retreating Carle, who quelled his goalscoring instincts enough to direct the ball away from his own goal.

Marco Rojas earned Wellington a corner in the 64th minute, which Reddy caught cleanly. He instantly launched a swift counter-attack by throwing the ball towards the half-way line, where Carle was lurking.

He scooted away and rounded Vukovic, who had come hurtling out of his penalty area upon seeing the danger posed by the playmaker with Wellington’s defence at the other end of the park. Carle, now clear on the left, followed his instincts, and chipped the ball towards the target, which it cleared by a matter of inches.

Incredibly, it was his last act of the game, Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka opting to withdraw his team’s best player from the fray at this point - if you’re looking for reasons to explain Sydney’s lack of competitiveness in the league this year, here’s one of them!

Mind, his replacement didn’t do too badly, Brendan Gan making his mark just three minutes after taking Carle’s place. He teamed up with Moriyasu on the left before spreading play across to Cole, who worked a one-two with McFlynn prior to nutmegging Lochhead in the Wellington penalty area.

Shannon Cole dashed round the defender to gather the ball, and looked up to find sky blue-shirted team-mates queuing up to score. Gan was first to react to the pass he supplied, and duly buried a ten-yarder beyond Vukovic - 2-0 after 69 minutes.

After Wellington’s ’keeper had grabbed another Gan effort four minutes later, the game rather lost its way, only coming to life again in stoppage time. Moriyasu created an opening for Cole, who turned his marker before hammering a shot beyond Vukovic, only to see the ball cannon off the crossbar to safety.

The ‘keeper was due a bit of good fortune, though - his efforts throughout the match had certainly earned it. But it would have been a travesty had Sydney not won this fixture, Vukovic’s heroics notwithstanding.

A-League 2010/2011 - Round 26
7:00pm, Wednesday 9 February, 2011 - Sydney Football Stadium

Sydney FC 2
(Nick Ward o.g. 54', Brendan Gan 69')
Wellington Phoenix FC 0

    Crowd: 4,732


    Sydney FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Liam REDDY (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 3. Stephan KELLER, 6. Hirofumi MORIYASU, 9. Bruno CAZARINE (11. Kofi DANNING +75'), 10. Nick CARLE (7. Brendan GAN +66'), 12. Shannon COLE, 15. Terry McFLYNN (c) (22. BYUN Sung-Hwan +83'), 17. Matthew JURMAN, 18. Juho MAKELA, 21. Scott JAMIESON.

    Substitutes not used: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (rgk)

    Coach: Vitislav Lavicka

    Yellow Cards: Nil
    Red Cards: Nil

    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    19. Danny VUKOVIC (gk), 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Nick WARD, 6. Tim BROWN (c), 9. Chris GREENACRE, 11. DANIEL (24. Sean LOVEMORE +65'), 12. James MUSA, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 15. Jade NORTH, 21. Marco ROJAS, 23. Dylan MACALLISTER (10. Oscar Roberto CORNEJO +69')

    Substitutes not used: 20. Reece CROWTHER (rgk), 26. Aaron CLAPHAM

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Nil
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Peter Green 6/10
    Assistant referees: Sarah Ho, Scott Edeling; Fourth official: Ryan Shepheard

    Pitch rating: 6/10

    Game rating: 4/10

    BOTN Player Points :

    3. Danny Vukovic (WP)
    2. Nick Carle (SFC)
    1. Hirofumi Moriyasu (SFC)

    Match Report by Jeremy Ruane

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Disclaimer: The content of this report is the responsibility of the writer. Stats are either as recorded by the writer at the game, or as supplied by FFA, or a mixture - no responsibility can be taken for their compete accuracy although we do strive for that. Any photos used here, unless attributed, are as supplied by FFA and used by permission.

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