Galekovic saves and saves and saves and …

By Stephen Webb:

Hyundai A-League 2014-15
Round 24
4 April 2015, 7.30 pm
Allianz Stadium, Sydney

Sydney FC 0
defeated by
Adelaide United FC 1 (Mabil 82’)

Sydney couldn’t buy a goal at Allianz Stadium on Saturday night.

After creating and missing good chances for most of the night (and seeing what should have been certain goals denied by Adelaide keeper Eugene Galekovic), Sydney lost to Adelaide’s first decent shot on target — in the last ten minutes of the game.

Galekovic was the standout player but not just because of the shots he stopped (they were mostly straight at him or had lost their sting). He was imperious in the air, catching high crosses and corners and punching well clear those balls he couldn’t collect. And it was his huge punt that released goal scorer Awer Mabil to put the seal on another demoralising home result for the Sydney side.

Adelaide were without the injured Marcelo Carrusca and suspended defender Tarek Elrich. Sydney could have done with the clinical finishing of the suspended Shane Smeltz.

Sydney were more threatening at first, with Mickael Tavares pushing the ball down the right, setting up two good crosses; one after some nifty footwork by Bernie Ibini.

Craig Goodwin crossed from Adelaide’s left, over the top right corner of goal. A shocking shot from Ibini at least won Sydney a corner. And an Adelaide shot also was deflected for a corner.

Adelaide twice exposed Sydney’s defence in the right of the box, with Sebastian Ryall blocking a shot. Bruce Djite, playing deep, had some good touches and Sergio Cerio’s speed while running at Sydney’s backs was unnerving.

In the 16th minute Tavares (Sydney’s best in the first half) again sent Ibini into the right corner. Ibini’s cross was perfect for Alex Brosque, who popped the ball up into Galekovic’s arms.

Nicola Petkovic won a corner against Bruce Kamau. The corner kick was punched away by Galekovic but Adelaide then survived two pinball sessions in their penalty area.

Brosque played a beautiful ball through for Ibini on the right. Ibini put the ball on a platter for Marc Janko — who missed it.

Adelaide broke away through the speed of Kamau but four players strung across the front line waited in vain for the infamous ball over the top.

Brosque, while sharing in his side’s misfortune/ineptitude in front of goal, was doing a lot of good work in the lead-up play. He held the ball up until Petkovic could cross for Chris Naumoff, who flopped his volley high.

Ibini — contending with Tavares as Sydney’s best — was very strong in defence beating Osama Malik before delivering another dangerous cross. Naumoff, in front of goal, was slow to react and another chance was wasted.

By this stage there was disquiet in the seats around me. Groans were swelling in volume and tinged with bitter frustration.

Goodwin’s speed got Adelaide away down the left, with Ibini and Tavares trailing.

Sydney were denied an excellent opportunity when Brosque, chasing a ball over the top and heading to goal, was brought down from behind just outside the Adelaide penalty area. Nigel Boogaard was fortunate to escape with only a yellow card.

On a Sydney cross from the left Boogaard beat Janko, who hardly got his head to a ball all night.

A long throw from Galekovic sent Goodwin on a race against Tavares, which Tavares won.

In the 43rd minute Galekovic saved a deflected shot from Brosque, assisted by a flick on from Janko. Adelaide somehow survived another goal box scramble.

Sydney won more corners that Galekovic consistently caught or punched clear.

As the second half began someone near me opined, “It’s not fair that it’s only nil-all. It’s not fair!”

Goodwin won a corner off Ryall. The ball came in low and Djite flicked it on for Vedran Janjetovic to save at the left post.

Cirio had a free shot from eight metres but lifted it up so it just bounced off Janjetovic’s chest. Matthew Jurman had to make an important stop against Cerio in the right of Sydney’s penalty area.

“It’s not looking good. We’ve come out looking like stunned mullets.”

Sydney appeared to score following a Milos Dimitrijevic free kick in the 49th minutes but Janko was ruled offside.

In the 53rd minute Ibini made an amazing run down the right and crossed to Brosque outside the left post. Brosque smacked the ball into Galekovic and Naumoff missed a sitter on the rebound.

“We should be four up by now!”

Ibini was quick onto another ball down the right and hit another pinpoint cross. Brosque connected and Galekovic saved.

“That just embarrassing! Arnie’s having a stroke down there.”

When Ibini finally lost out to Malik, he chased back and forced Adelaide to put the ball over the sideline.

In the 64th minute Rhyan Grant replaced a sore Tavares, who was applauded from the pitch. “We’re a different team when Tavares is on.”

Petkovic hit a great ball for Ibini down the left. Ibini was on goal but blasted wide.

Brosque, on another break to goal, was brought down by Isaias, who earned a yellow card. Adelaide were picking up so many yellow cards that Sydney supporters couldn’t believe no player had yet collected two.

George Blackwood replaced Yanko and made a few short runs. “He’s already done more than Yanko did all day!”

For a few minutes Sydney were all over Adelaide, who seemed happy to get a draw.

Then, when it was clear Sydney would never score, the inevitable happened. Adelaide did score. A long clearance from Galekovic found Mabil three quarters of the way down the pitch. Mabil headed into the right of Sydney’s penalty area, stepped to the left around Petkovic and shot past a spectating Jurman and a forlornly diving Janjetovic inside the left post.

Blackwood got on goal, battling to stay on his feet as he entered the Adelaide box, but his shot was deflected by Galekovic for a corner.

After a good spell of possession for Sydney, Blackwood was set up but didn’t pull the trigger.

Sydney had a flurry of half chances with balls in the air and then some soft shots that Galekovic went to ground for to soak up time.

With all their shots and crosses having come to nought, Sydney missed a chance to sit on top of the table with Melbourne Victory and Perth Glory. Now Adelaide sit in third spot, one point behind the leaders, and Sydney have to find their killer touch during a tough run of away games if they want to remain contenders.

Match stats:

Crowd: 11,585

Sydney FC:
20. Vedran Janjetovic, 2. Seb Ryall, 5. Matt Jurman, 6. Nikola Petkovic, 8. Milos Dimitrijevic, 11. Bernie Ibini, 13. Christopher Naumoff (34. Robert Stambolziev 66’), 14. Alex Brosque (c), 21. Marc Janko (29. George Blackwood 77’), 26. Jacques Faty, 27. Mickael Tavares (23. Rhyan Grant 62’).
Subs not used: 1. Ivan Necevski (gk), 16. Alex Gersbach.
Yellow Cards: None.

Adelaide United:
1. Eugene Galekovic (c), 2. Michael Marrone, 3. Nigel Boogaard, 4. Dylan McGowan, 5. Osama Malik, 8. Isaias, 9. Sergio Cirio, 11. Bruce Djite, 16. Craig Goodwin (19. Miguel Palanca 67’), 18. James Jeggo, 24. Bruce Kamau (17. Awer Mabil 59’)(14. Cameron Watson 84’).
Subs Not Used: 20. Paul Izzo, 15. Ben Warland.
Yellow cards: Jeggo 10’, Boogaard 37’, McGowan 49’, Isaias 74’, Marrone 79’,Malik 89’, Cirio 90+1

Ground: wet; it rained everything but goals for Sydney

Referee: Chris Beath
Assistants: Ashley Beecham and James Tesoriero
Fourth official: Chris Young

Best players:
4. Eugene Galekovic (Adelaide United)
1. Bernie Ibini (Sydney FC)
1. Mickael Tavares (Sydney FC)

Report and photographs by Stephen Webb