A crazy kind of a match

By Corinthian (Paul Green):

Australian National Youth League – Season 7 – Round 9

4pm, Sunday 14th December 2014 – Lambert Park, Leichhardt

Sydney FC 3
drew with
Melbourne City FC 3

This was a crazy kind of a match, with Sydney FC escaping with a 3-3 draw, after falling behind to a well-taken free-kick in only the second minute of the game against visitors, Melbourne City, who had much to contend with, apart from an unfamiliar Lambert Park synthetic pitch.

The free-kick was put away superbly by Philip Petreski, from wide on the right, after a foul on Luka Prelevic.

Sydney thought they could draw level quite quickly, after George Blackwood had clashed with City keeper, Marko Stamboulis, in the sixth minute, the high feet of the Sydney player, in making the challenge, overlooked when the keeper rushed out, a yellow card and a penalty decision the ruling by referee, Ben Abraham.

But Blackwood struck his spot-kick against the right-hand upright and Sydney had more to do to make any impression on the score-sheet.

Melbourne competed well, restricting Sydney to very limited opportunities, while themselves enjoying some good wing-play, especially down their right side and by the 35th minute they had extended their early lead.

A ball which was not adequately cleared presented Anthony Rizk with the chance to slam the ball through a defensive sea of legs, from about 12 yards out and Sydney knew they had to do even more after that, if they were to achieve anything in the game.

They managed to pull a goal back, three minutes later, another penalty awarded, this time put away successfully by Blackwood, after team-mate Chris Naumoff had been brought down by Rizk inside the box, a move that earned the visitor a straight red card.

At 2-1 Sydney might have been expected to go on with it then, but City had other ideas.

Smart wing-play from Stefan Zinni, this time down the left, enabled Hernan Espindola to angle the ball home from close range, after the superb lead-up work by Zinni and co.

But with earlier goalscorer, Rizk,having seen red soon after scoring, it meant that Melbourne’s 3-1 half-time lead was looking far from secure.

It needed Sydney to pull one back soon after the re-start, so they could get seriously into the contest, but Melbourne’s ten-men dug deep and by the 90th minute the hosts still hadn’t made any impact on the scoreboard.

But a second dismissal, towards the end, a second caution for keeper Stevanja, meant only nine Melbourne men remained on the field to protect their two-goal cushion, as stoppage-time loomed.

Given that the Sydney team had struggled to make much of an impression, even six minutes of added time seemed barely enough, as reserve keeper, Lajos Oliviera came on, with Zinni having been sacrificed to accommodate him in the 80th minute.

Three minutes into added-time, Sydney did manage to pull one back at last, a cross from Dylan Caton being nodded home by Blackwood.

Melbourne then tried all they could to put their nine men behind the ball, only to concede in the dying seconds of the six minutes of stoppage-time, a cruel way to drop two points it must be said.

Charles Lokoili Ngoy, who had come on as a 66th minute substitute for the industrious Daniel Araujo, looked most effective on the right and it was his low drive from that flank that yielded an equaliser which nobody thought would ever be coming.

Melbourne city coach, Joe Palatsides, could hardly believe his eyes when the final whistle blew and his side had dropped points.

“I feel so sorry for my boys, they played their hearts out and then lost two precious points. I’ve got a goalkeeper crying his eyes out in the dressing room, though he wasn’t to blame, of course. I thought the first penalty awarded was an incorrect
decision and the yellow card for my keeper was wrong too.

“That meant the second yellow cost us so dearly and it would have been totally different if the first decision had not gone against us.

“They’re only young boys, most, if not all, of them are still at school,” Palatsides explained.

“It’s tough on them, for sure, but I suppose you could say it’s character building for them, as it’s a harsh learning experience.

“This is football.

Steve Corica, Sydney FC coach, must have been relieved to see his side collect the single point, though for all but the final seconds, they never looked like getting even that.

Match details

Crowd:  abt 100

Sydney FC – Anthony BOUZANIS; Jacob TRATT (Dylan CATON 35′); Themba MUATA-MARLOW; George TIMOTHEOU; Cristian GONZALEZ; Hagi GLIGOR; Max BURGESS; Daniel ARAUJO (Charles LOKOLI NGOY 63′); Jordan TSEKENIS (John GROZDANOVSKI 46′); George BLACKWOOD; Christopher NAUMOFF.

Sub Not Used: Luke BABIC (GK)

Coach: Steve Corica

Yellow cards: Christopher Gligor (SFC) 10

Melbourne City FC: Mark Stevanja; Tomislav Padlevic, Tyler James, Joseph Monek, Andrew Mullett, Philip Petreski (C)(Anthony Taranto 60), Luka Prevelic, Leo Athanasiou, Hernan Espindola (Luke Gallo 46), Stefan Zinni (Lajos Oliviera RGK 80), Anthony Rizk .

Sub not used: Tom King,

Coach: Joe Palatsides

Yellow cards: Marko Stevanja (MC) 6, 80, Leo Athanasiou (MC) 26, Stefan Zinni (MC) 29, 38
Red Card:  Stefan Zinni 38, Marko Stevanja 80

Points and ratings

Game: 7/10
Pitch: 10/10 Synthetic
Referee:  Ben Abraham 7/10

Assistants: Adam Powers and Daniel Stack; Fourth Official: Adrian Arndt; Referee Assessor:  Sandro Perticarini

Players noted:
Themba Muata-Marlow, George Blackwood, Max Burgess (SFC), Andrew Mullett, Anthony Rizk, Stefan Zinni (MC)