Wellington Give Sydney Their Come-Uppances

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

Hyundai A-League – Season 14 – 2017/2018 – Round 7
5:35pm, Saturday 8th December, 2018 – Jubilee Oval, Kogarah

Sydney FC 1 (Michael Zullo 89′)
lost to
Wellington Phoenix FC 3 (Roy Krishna 21′, 30′, Steven Taylor 38′)

Wellington Phoenix stunned the Hyundai A-League en masse on December 8, handing two-time reigning premiers Sydney FC a 3-1 mauling in front of 10,101 disbelieving fans at Jubilee Stadium, with the result flattering the beaten side.

It’s a long time since Sydney were given their come-uppances in this fashion, but former Sydney captain turned Wellington coach knew exactly which buttons to push to expose the frailties of his former club, and his charges responded with easily their best performance in many a moon, particularly in the first half.

Wellington hit the ground running, with Andrew Redmayne forced to keep out twenty-five yarders from both Mandi Sosa and Roy Krishna inside the first four minutes, the latter playing his first match for Wellington since being granted NZ citizenship.

Sydney responded via a couple of attacks featuring Adam Le Fondre. Michael Zullo played the ball down the line for Alex Brosque in the eighth minute, and his cross, intended for his striking partner, was headed behind by the retreating Michael Kopzcynski for a corner.

This was cleared to Zullo, whose twenty-five yard grasscutter sizzled narrowly past Sail’s right-hand post. From the resulting goal kick, Sydney swiftly regained possession, with Le Fondre tearing through the inside right channel before seeing his shot blocked by Sail.

On the quarter hour, the home team went desperately close to opening the scoring. Rhyan Grant pinged one down the line for Paulo Retre to pursue, and his first-time cross to the near post found Le Fondre flying in to meet it. Unfortunately for Sydney, he couldn’t keep his attempt below crossbar height – a close call for Wellington.

The visitors responded by opening the scoring in the 21st minute. Sosa’s pass split the defence and sent Krishna hurtling through in between Alex Wilkinson and Jop van der Linden, who were powerless to prevent him from steering home past Redmayne from the edge of the penalty area.

The goal clearly rocked Sydney, who were fortunate not to concede a second in the next five minutes – scrambling defence saved the day as Nathan Burns burst between the central defensive duo, who were exposed again in the 28th minute as Sosa and Sarpreet Singh combined to send Krishna darting into the penalty area.

Redmayne parried this low drive round his near post, and from the resulting corner, parried Alex Rufer’s resulting cross through the corridor of uncertainty to seeming safety.

There was to be no denying Wellington, however, with Krishna doubling their lead on the half-hour upon receipt of another piercing through ball from Sosa – it wasn’t too dissimilar to the opening goal nine minutes earlier.

Sydney were stunned, and they sunk further into the mire eight minutes later as a third goal materialised. After van der Linden’s super free-kick had been scrambled clear, Wellington pressed via a corner, which explained Steven Taylor’s presence in the attacking third when Liberato Cacace’s inviting cross curled delightfully into his stride.

Taylor met the ball with a towering header which soared over Redmayne and sailed into the top far corner of the net – 3-0 Wellington, a scoreline no one had foreseen, least of all their hosts, whose desperation to pull one back before half-time was confounded by the offside flag – this ruled out an Andrew Durante own goal – and a goal-line clearance from Taylor which infuriated Brosque, whose shot it was.

Boos cascaded around Kogarah Oval at half-time as the players trudged off, and those wearing sky blue were a captive audience. They were music to the ears of the visitors, however, and it wasn’t long after the resumption of play that they were pressing for a fourth goal.

After Singh was closed down by van der Linden on the edge of the area, Redmayne spilled then gathered a Rufer free-kick before executing a dreadful touch from a back-pass which gave Burns more than a hint of a chance.

The ‘keeper recovered to block the chance, but looked on in horror as the rebound fell at the feet of Singh, who somehow failed to pull the trigger with an untended net yawning invitingly just twenty yards ahead of him.

Sydney managed to break the shackles by which they were bound in the 57th minute. Half-time substitute Siem De Jong played in the overlapping figure of Grant on the right, from where he picked out the otherwise anonymous Milos Ninkovic with a cross.

Louis Fenton’s tackle stopped him in his tracks and resulted in a tussle for possession, with the ball breaking for De Jong to let fly. Sail was equal to the task, parrying the ball to safety on this occasion, and volleying clear in the 73rd minute as Le Fondre pursued Josh Brillante’s through ball, seconds after David Williams – on for the injured Krishna – had drilled a shot past the post upon receipt of Singh’s pass.

The home team then saw desperate Wellington defending thwart three shooting chances in a fifteen-second period before their penalty appeals fell on deaf ears, referee Jonathan Barreiro correctly ruling that Taylor had used his chest, not his arm, to block a Zullo cross at ground level.

After substitute Tom Doyle had seen his bid to make it 4-0 turned round the post by Redmayne, referee Barreiro failed to see a clear foul on Taylor by Brosque in the final minute.

It was to have implications on the scoreboard, for Zullo’s resulting cross picked out Le Fondre, who squandered a gilt-edged chance four yards out. Sail parried the effort, the ball falling to De Jong, whose shot was blocked, the ball ricocheting to Zullo, whose volley deflected off Durante and past Sail – a consolation goal for Sydney, who scarcely deserved it.

There was still a bit of fun before the final whistle when referee Barreiro blew for time a good two minutes early, then realised his mistake and allowed play to resume for the duration.

Not that Sydney would have objected to the early conclusion – this was a night they’ll want to forget every bit as much as Wellington will want to remember it for many a moon! The visitors were simply too good on the day. Their opponents were anything but!

Match details

Crowd: 10,101

Sydney FC: Redmayne (gk); Grant, Wilkinson, van der Linden, Zullo (booked, 61); Retre (De Jong, 46), Brillante (booked, 40), O’Neill (De Silva, 65), Ninkovic (Ivanovic, 82); Brosque (booked, 41), Le Fondre

Coach: Steve Corica

Wellington Phoenix FC: Sail; Taylor, Kopzcynski, Durante; Fenton, Rufer (Fox, 80), Sosa, Cacace (Doyle, 68); Singh, Krishna (Williams, 59), Burns

Coach: Mark Rudan

Points and ratings, by Jeremy Ruane

Referee Jonathan Barreiro 4/10

Pitch 8/10

Match  6/10

Player points:
3. Krishna (WP)
2. Singh (WP)
1. Taylor (WP)