Sky Blues win derby in smash-and-grab

Hyundai A-League – Round 15 – Pirtek Stadium

Saturday, 17th January, 2016

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (Vidosic 58′)

defeated by

Sydney FC 2 (Faty 22′, Smeltz 90′)

By Arvind Hickman

Shane Smeltz belted a winner in the 90th minute to break Western Sydney Wanderers hearts in an absorbing derby encounter at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday.

In a game the Wanderers dominated for large parts, Jacques Faty’s first half header was cancelled out by an excellent team goal expertly finished by Dario Vidosic.

But the New Zealand international had the last laugh, coming off the bench late to fire in a famous winner and silence the 19,000 crowd. In doing so, the Sky Blues rise to level on points with their bitter cross-town rivals.

The goal owed much to poor defending. First Nikolai Topor-Stanley conceded a professional foul by shirt pulling. Then indecision in the box allowed Matt Jurman to beat several Wanderers to a looping Milos Dimitrijevic free kick and lay the ball on a silver platter for Smeltz, who hit a rasping drive into the back of the net.

The Sky Blues first goal, also from a set piece, also profited from lax defending. A Chris Naumoff corner to the back post was headed back across goal by Seb Ryall for Faty to nod in. Although a well worked training park move, the marking was not tight enough and did not impress coach Tony Popovic, an acomplished defender in his playing days.

“It’s a lack of concentration. We had a little problem with that in round one, but we’ve rectified that and have been very good [defending] set plays, but today we got punished,” he said. “We had some crystal clear chances, but didn’t take advantage of our domination of the game.”

Sydney FC’s goals were the only genuine chances they fashioned all game. Two chances, two goals, three points. Sky Blues coach Grahm Arnold admitted he set up his team to defend deep and frustrate the home side. And it worked.

“Tonight was a real football match. I thought we controlled their danger men very well,” Arnold said.

“We came here to make us hard to beat and to nulify the space for their danger men Nichols, Bridge and Castelen – I thought we kept them quiet tonight. If you can do that you are half way to getting the job done.”

For the Wanderers, it was one of those nights where they dominated the game but didn’t get the reward their enterprise deserved.

In the first half, Vidosic, Romeo Castelen and Dimas all squandered good chances after getting in behind the Sky Blues’ defensive line. Good defending by Faty and Matt Jurman made it difficult for the Wanderers, but on another night some of their chances would have been swallowed up.

Interestingly, Popovic opted to start Bridge as the focal point of a front three rather than Federico Piovaccari. The Italian’s strength and ability to hold up the ball might have proved valuable against Sydney’s physical approach.

Even though Bridge had a quieter game than in recent weeks, he still played a telling role in the home side’s goal.

In the 58th minute, Mitch Nichols played a ball to Bridge on the edge of the area. The forward held it up well and brought Castelen into the game. The Dutch forward then switched the play from right to left with a peach of a diagonal ball to Vidosic, who strided into the area and curled a shot around Janjetovic.

Although the Wanderers had plenty of the ball and at times played excellent football, chances were hard to come by until the 76th minute when Kearyn Baccus – an early substitute for Dimas – played a brilliant one-two with Nichols to carve up the Sky Blues’ defence. But with only the ‘keeper to beat, Baccus shot straight at Janjetovic.

Good, but not quite good enough. Story of the night for the home side.

Although Arnold will be the happier of the two coaches, orchestrating a classic smash-and-grab job over his counterpart, how they won is of little relevance. The Sky Blues head back down Parramatta Road with all three points, bragging rights and are now level with their arch rivals.

Bring on the return fixture at Allianz Stadium in a month’s time.

Western Sydney Wanderers: Redmayne (gk), Neville, Alberto, Topor-Stanley (c), Jamieson, Dimas (Baccus 52’), Andreu, Castelen, Nichols (Piovaccari 79’), Vidosic (Mebrahtu 69’), Bridge.

Coach: Tony Popovic

Sydney FC: Janjetovic (gk), Ryall (c), Faty, Jurman, Grant, Dimitrijevic, Tavares, Holosko Blackwood 84’), Ninkovic, Naumoff (Abbas 69’), Simon (Smeltz 63’).

Coach: Graham Arnold

Scorers: Faty 22’, Vidosic 58’, Smeltz 90’

Red cards: Nil

Yellow cards: Simon 19’, Grant 43’, Topor-Stanley 89’

Attendance: 19,627 @ Pirtek Stadium

Referee: Strebre Delovski. Assistant referees: NAthan MacDonald, James Tesoriero

Ratings

Pitch: 7/10

Referee: 8/10

Players

3 – Faty (SFC) A defensive general that kept Wanderers in check. Scored a crucial goal and is starting to find his best form, which will be crucical for Sydney’s final aspirations. Earned deserved praise from Arnie post-game.

2 – Jamieson (WSW) Some inspired runs and excellent defensively. An outstanding campaign so far and the Wanderers will do well to hold onto him beyond this season as overseas clubs come knocking.

1 – Vidosic (WSW) One of his best games this season. Took his goal beautifully and linked up well throughout. Unlucky to be pulled off with 20 minutes to play, but will hope this game is a sign of better things to come.