Sydney FC again too strong at home

By Stephen Webb

A-League Season 2013/14, Round 8
Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Saturday 30 November 2013, 7.45 pm

Sydney FC 2 (Chianese 45+1’, Despotovic 60’)
defeated
Newcastle Jets 0

Sydney have continued their winning run — and even scored two goals without Alessandro Del Piero — to halt Newcastle’s similar rise up the A-League ladder.

Newcastle applied some early dead ball pressure, with a corner from the right and a free kick from the left sideline — both easily managed by Sydney’s defence and goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic. But in the 9th minute a Ruben Zadkovich free kick went just over the Sydney crossbar.

It was a stuttering start to the game, however, with several stoppages including Nick Carle’s foul on Adam Taggart and Sebastian Ryall needing treatment. As one fan observed, “It’s ten minutes in but I think we’ve seen three minutes of soccer.”

On the restart from the Ryall delay Sydney got into the right side of Newcastle’s penalty area but the ball across the face of goal provided no threat.

In the 13th minute Jacob Pepper got into Sydney’s penalty area but his shot was soft and straight to Janjetovic.

Del Piero and Joel Chianese looked to have a chance with a through ball but Pepper was too quick chasing back. Carle found Chianese free on the right but Chianese was (supposedly) offside.

Sydney weren’t looking as sharp as their fans might have hoped, giving away easy possession. Newcastle weren’t overly impressive with long balls directed at Emile Heskey, especially since Matt Jurman more than matched him.

In the 20th minute Taggart struck straight to Janjetovic. Carle fouled Andrew Hoole and Scott Neville received the ball from a poor clearance but shot gently to Janjetovic.

It may have been Peppers’ energetic display, but fans near me thought Chianese looked sluggish. “He hasn’t earned the right to be sluggish like Del Piero.”

A cross by Matt Thompson was clearly deflected for a corner but referees Ben Williams and Allyson Flynn (recently named Asian Football Confederation Referee of the Year and Women’s Assistant Referee of the Year respectively) didn’t acknowledge it.

Nathan Burns, having a marvellous first half, ran with the ball from box to box, Zadkovich fouled Del Piero, and Burns, down the left, waltzed past three Sydney players and crossed long.

Thompson fouled Burns 15 metres outside the Sydney penalty area. Nothing came from the free kick but Zadkovich beat Del Piero to the ball and delivered poorly into the Sydney box.

A ball into the Newcastle penalty foreshadowed Sydney’s first goal. Chianese, a little more zippy, got a slight touch, the ball bouncing between Mark Birighitti’s legs and beyond the right post.

Heskey won a free kick falling over a Sydney player just standing minding his own business. The crowd accused Williams of having a predilection for pleasuring himself.

A cross from Chianese won Sydney a corner.

Then Del Piero just walked off the pitch. Looking dazed and forlorn, he just walked off, despite a word from the fourth official. When Williams realised, he showed Del Piero (apparently with a hamstring injury) a yellow card.

Somehow the absence of the captain proved to be a spark for Sydney. As the first half entered stoppage time Chianese made a great run — “not so sluggish anymore” — to meet a ball from the left from Ali Abbas, rounded Neville and neatly finished. One-nil!

At half time a colleague in the press box thought Chianese was having a great game. A fan next me thought he had two or three good possessions and crosses, that’s all (and the goal). All we could see was Chianese messing up passes and getting beaten by Pepper. At least one commentator, however, included Chianese in their team of the week.

In the 56th minute Chianese was impressive getting onto a ball in the top right corner of Newcastle’s penalty area but shot far to the right of goal.

Burns then had the chance to change the game for Newcastle but missed a sitter on a cross from the right.

Newcastle then changed tactics, replacing Heskey with Josh Brilliante and abandoning the long, searching balls.

Sydney came close to claiming their second goal following a cross from Chianese. Richard Garcia headed onto the crossbar then Birighitti, facing Ranko Despotovic’s header on the rebound, tipped the ball over the bar.

In the 60th minute Despotovic burst into the left side of the Newcastle penalty area, brushed off attempts to halt him and shot home inside the left post, putting Sydney ahead by another goal.

At the other end Despotovic defended a cross after a Newcastle corner from the left. Ryall made a superb tackle to deny Newcastle a shot on the edge of Sydney’s goal box.

Garcia, shouldering the captain’s responsibility with aplomb, had some clever interplay with substitute Yairo Yau down the left sideline. After a few moments of magic, Yau’s shot was deflected for a corner.

On a Newcastle counter attack, Neville collected the ball skilfully on the right and crossed but no-one was there to support him.

Garcia was brought down by Kew Jaliens, no card was shown and the crowd was livid. Ben Kantarovski fouled Carle and kicked the ball away. Ryall made a great run to the Newcastle penalty area from the right but was fouled; Abbas’ free kick was a limp effort.

James Virgili made a good run onto a long ball but was just offside, Garcia did some nice work getting into the left of the Newcastle box but his cross was cut out, and Burns had another shot — high again.

Terry McFlynn hit a great ball for Despotovic on the left. The super-sub returned the ball to McFlynn, who left it for Carle, who played it on to Abbas … Somewhere in there a shot seemed inevitable. But nothing eventuated.

Nevertheless, Sydney had won and, temporarily, were in second spot on the ladder.

MATCH STATS

Crowd: 14,803

Sydney FC:
20. Vedran Janjetovic, 2. Sebastian Ryall, 5. Matt Jurman, 6. Nikola Petkovic, 10. Alessandro Del Piero (43’ Ranko Despotovic), 11. Richard Garcia, 16. Joel Chianese, 19. Nick Carle, 22. Ali Abbas, 27. Chris Naumoff (67’ Yairo Yau), 28. Matt Thompson (76’ Terry McFlynn).
Subs not used: 1. Ivan Necevski, 34. Aaron Calver.
Yellow cards: 4’ Carle, 43’ Del Piero, 78’ Jurman

Newcastle Jets FC:
1. Mark Birighitti, 2. Scott Neville, 3. Taylor Regan, 4. Kew Jaliens, 5. Ben Kantarovski, 7. Andrew Hoole (73’ James Virgili) , 8. Ruben Zadkovich, 9. Emile Heskey (57’ Josh Brillante), 10. Nathan Burns, 16. Jacob Pepper (79’ Mark Bridges), 22. Adam Taggart.
Subs not used: 18. James Brown, 20. Ben Kennedy.

Ratings:

Referee: Ben Williams 6/10
Assistants: Allyson Flynn, Greg Taylor, Stephen Lucas

Pitch: 7/10

Game: 6/10

Player points:

3. Richard Garcia (Sydney FC)
2. Ali Abbas (Sydney FC)
1. Matt Thompson (Sydney FC)

(Decided by a fan who purchased refreshments for me. Burns? Taggart? Their day will come.)

By Stephen Webb

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