Hyundai A-League - 2011/2012 - Season 7

Sydney fans New Year resolutions?
By Stephen Webb

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 13
7:30pm, Thursday 29 December, 2011
at Sydney Football Stadium

Sydney FC 0
lost to
Melbourne Heart FC 4
(Eli Babalj 31', Mate Dugandzic 45'+1, Hoffman 76', Alex Terra 84')

A crowd of 16,000 — twice last year’s average — will be hoping Sydney played exceptionally poorly against Melbourne Heart ... otherwise their New Year’s resolutions will be not to waste their time at Sydney Football Stadium in 2012.

For much of the match Sydney looked like they should be winning. Except they weren’t scoring. Or defending with any rigour. Or sense.

Heart weren’t brilliant. Just took advantage of Sydney’s dithering and seasonal generosity — Liam Reddy’s gift to Alex Terra adding a symbolic bow to the evening’s bag of goody-gaffes.

Excuses? Carle and McFlynn were absent. Brett Emerton barely turned up. Just as well Terry Antonis filled McFlynn’s spot with aplomb. So good in fact that some might be wondering if the skipper will be fighting to win his place back. But if Terry Senior had been on the pitch would Heart have been able to so breezily score on their counter attacks?

Whatever. It’s depressing. Unless you support Heart, now with a string of wins and pundits forecasting their challenge for the title.

Sydney kicked off. And poor ol’ Bruno Cazarine had the first of his many attempts at goal blocked by Adrian Madaschi.

A cross from Heart’s Eli Babalj struck Michael Beauchamp’s back and the thought arose that Sydney would again concede an early goal from a corner.

Michael Marrone, down the right flank, crossed too strongly.

For Sydney, Shannon Cole shot into the back of a defender and Heart responded with a ball through for Babalj who was met and halted by Reddy. Both sides were giving away possession.

In the 15th minute Cazarine picked up a loose ball 25 metres from goal and shot high.

Aziz Behich cut out a great ball from Karol Kisel intended for Emerton. Sydney sent in a bomb from the right and Clint Bolton collected it safely (something he’d get much more practice at as the game wore on).

Cazarine crossed from the right of Heart’s penalty area and the ball fell for Cole. Cole’s shot was rising but Bolton punched the ball away for a Sydney corner. A period of sustained pressure earned Sydney another corner and Dimitri Petratos went to the goal line and hit a low cross that was no trouble for Bolton.

Antonis was playing well for Sydney and Mate Dugandzic was impressive chasing back to dispossess Cole on a break. Antonis hit a lovely, low through ball but Petratos didn’t read it. A difficult ball was lobbed through for Cazarine who fought hard to win it, only to be stopped by Bolton charging out to the edge of his area.

Fans around me were getting frustrated with Sydney losing possession fussing around Heart’s penalty area ... but were stunned when Scott Jamieson and Pascal Bosschaart clumsily clashed at the other end (not the only goal for which they were culpable), letting Fred through to the right post before playing back for Eli Babalj to slot in an easy goal.

To prove this was just a hiccough, against the run of play, Sydney went back on the attack, Jamie Coyne crossing from the right but Madaschi getting a toe in to clear. Emerton got into the penalty area and crossed from the goal line but Heart had superior numbers in the box and Sydney only won a corner.

Sydney had been playing more dumb long balls and one actually found Emerton’s head.

Dugandzic was looking dangerous down the left but Antonis stopped him.

By the 40th minute Heart were starting to get into the game. They looked all right, even according to one knowledgeable Sydney supporter “occupying” a seat next to me.

Marrone (I think) was freakishly quick down the right and got in a cross from the goal line. Beauchamp was good stopping Babalj in the box but the defence evaporated after a sweet ball from Behich put Rutger Worm on goal. Worm should have been all Reddy had to worry about but Worm had no need to chance a shot; he squared for Dugandzic who put away a second easy goal for the Melbourne team.

My half-time summation was that Sydney lacked any urgency in front of goal (at either end). Coach Vitezslav Lavicka responded to the need for hunger in attack by replacing Shannon Cole with Mark Bridge, playing behind Cazarine and Petratos.

For some reason fans in front of me and behind me were calling for Cazarine to be replaced. Lavicka probably noted that Cazarine was the only Sydney player who looked even remotely like scoring.

In the 50th minute Cazarine was played through to no avail: he skied his shot and was offside in any case. Cazarine had a shot on the turn to Bolton and Bridge had a shot blocked by Fred on the edge of the penalty area — a significant tackle because it really seemed as if a genuine shot was on its way to the target.

Petratos cut in from the right and shot wildly and widely.

Fred seemed to be having fun getting the better of Emerton (I reckon Heart had a change-room bet going on who could skin Emo most often) but got himself hurt and was replaced by Jason Hoffman (another Emerton teaser).

Cazarine placed a header just past Heart’s right post.

In the 68th minute Lavicka put on his fourth striker, Juho Makela, and took off Coyne. Ahem.

But it was still Cazarine making most of the (limited) progress to goal — another header blocked following a Petratos cross from the right. Petratos crossed again, this time to Bolton.

In the 76th minute Sydney worked a good play into the Heart penalty area and again came away with nothing. Heart came away with the ball and scored again. Dugandzic crossed from the right, Behich shot from the left, Reddy palmed it off to Dugandzic who set up Hoffman for the shot.

Now even the ardent Sydney fan behind me was saying Heart looked good. Or was that code for “Sydney’s defence is appalling!”

In the 80th minute Cazarine on a corner from the right headed past the left post.

Behich shot from outside the box and Reddy slapped it down. Next thing you know Reddy collected a ball in the air and proceeded to squeeze it out behind him, setting up Alex Terra for the most humiliating of four embarrassing goals.

Any wonder Reddy received ironic cheers whenever he then did hold on to a ball?

Heart crossed. Heart won a corner. Who would have been surprised if they scored two more?

But Sydney had the last decent chance, Bridge almost squeezing one past Bolton.

Picking best players from Heart was hard: they all performed admirably. In addition to Behich and Dugandzic, Fred of course was in fine form. And I liked (let’s say appreciated) Madaschi’s work in defence.

Picking best players from Sydney was hard: all but Antonis need to take a good hard look at themselves. And maybe Kisel. Bridge didn’t get much of a chance. Maybe Emerton needs someone else on the pitch — on his side — who wants to play football.

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 13
7:30pm, Thursday 29 December, 2011
at Sydney Football Stadium

Sydney FC 0
lost to
Melbourne Heart FC 4
(Eli Babalj 31', Mate Dugandzic 45'+1, Hoffman 76', Alex Terra 84')

    Crowd: 16,007


    Sydney FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Liam Reddy (gk), 3. Jamie Coyne (18. Juho Makela +68'), 4. Pascal Bosschaart, 5. Michael Beauchamp, 7. Brett Emerton (c), 8. Karol Kisel, 9. Bruno Cazarine, 11. Dimi Petratos, 12. Shannon Cole (19. Mark Bridge +46'), 17. Terry Antonis (23. Rhyan Grant +83'), 21. Scott Jamieson

    Substitutes not used: 20. Ivan Necevski (rgk)

    Coach: Vítezslav Lavicka

    Yellow Cards: Pascal Bosschaart 54', Bruno Cazarine 60’
    Red Cards: Nil

    Melbourne Heart FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Clint Bolton (gk), 2. Michael Marrone, 3. Brendan Hamill (18. Curtis Good +73'), 4. Simon Colosimo, 5.Fred (c1) (17. Jason Hoffman +59'), 6. Matt Thompson (c2), 7. Rutger Worm, 16. Aziz Behich, 19. Eli Babalj, 23. Mate Dugandzic (11. Alex Terra +80'), 25.Adrian Madaschi

    Substitutes not used: 30. Sebastian Mattei (rgk)

    Coach: John van’t Schip

    Yellow Cards: Nil
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Peter Green tba/10
    Assistant Referees: 1. Alex Glasgow, 2. Sarah Ho; 4th official: Kurt Ams

    BOTN Player Points:
    3. Aziz Behich (Melbourne Heart)
    2. Terry Antonis (Sydney FC)
    1. Mate Dugandzic (Melbourne Heart)

    Pitch rating: 6/10

    Game rating: 6/10

    Match report, and ratings: By Stephen Webb Photos by Stephen and Penny Webb

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