Sydney youth beat Wanderers at Lambert Park

By Paul Green

Foxtel National Youth League – Version 2 – Season 2 – Round 8 (Conference B)
7:00pm, Saturday 12 January, 2018 – Lambert Park, Leichhardt

Sydney FC 2 (Marco Tilio 57′, Jeremy Cox 87′)
Western Sydney Wanderers 0


Western Sydney Wanderers, sitting pretty six points clear at the top of the National Youth League North table, albeit in a somewhat abbreviated campaign with only eight matches to contend with, came to Lambert Park in the firm view that they would emerge from their match against Sydney FC with their position secured as the winners of the group and prepared to face the winners of the National Youth League South once the regular games are over.

They began in confident fashion, bossing the midfield and stringing passes together cohesively, looking every inch the superior team.

By half-time they looked well in command, although neither team had scored and there was nothing to suggest the second period would be any different.

Sydney FC, who’ve had an indifferent season and looked disjointed for the most part, gave no indication that they’d appear after the break as a completely different kind of side, taking over the role of dominance assumed by their visitors during the opening 45 minutes.

Sydney simply improved 100 per cent and for all their hard work, the Wanderers just couldn’t get a grip on the game again for most of the remaining minutes of a more energised second-half from the Sky Blues.

The Wanderers had won five of their six games, while Sydney had won only two of their five played to date, although both had been beaten once.

Newcastle Jets were the only real threat, it appeared, to the Wanderers’ dominance, being six points adrift and with two to play, while Sydney had three and were seven behind with a game in hand.

Given that this was their last chance for bragging right in the Sydney region and the only opportunity to close the gap there’s no doubt the home side at the compact Leichhardt stadium put everything they had into that concluding 45 minutes.

Two fine goals without reply allowed the hosts to draw within four points of the leaders and two ahead of Newcastle Jets who have suffered from drawing three of their half dozen outings.

The Wanderers’ keeper, Jerrad Tyson, their only over-age player, made a couple of good saves early in the game from a Jerry Skotadis free-kick in the ninth minute and a sizzling shot from Charles Lokoli Ngoy in the 16th. That after smart work from Joel King who set up Marco Tilio for the cross.

But the Wanderers were looking the more polished side and seemed to have the midfield under a good grip as the half wore on.

Lochlan Constable made a huge run in the 19th down the left and brought out a top save from the Sydney keeper, Duro Dragicevic.

Both sides forced a number of corners, but neither could capitalise and the energy levels of the Wanderers’ players seemed for the most part greater than their Sky Blue counterparts.

That all changed after the break when Sydney went for a more controlled approach and began to wear away at the Wanderers in midfield who’d earlier seemed clearly on top.

As Sydney lifted their intensity it appeared that the Wanderers dropped theirs and good lead-up work and a switch from right to left involving Jeremy Cox, Skotadis and captain Samuel McIllhatton led to Tilio finishing well from wide on the left across the spreadeagled Wanderers’ keeper in the 57th minute.

Shocked by losing their control of the game and suddenly finding themselves behind the visitors just couldn’t get their rhythm going again and Sydney continued to press on relentlessly.

A double change by the Wanderers in the 68th minute by coach Arthur Diles might have produced dividends, with Abdelrahman Kuku and Adrian Valenti showing some toe, but Sydney showed their hand by not introducing any extra defenders, opting only to give tiring striker Lokoli Ngoy a breather and sending on Hassan Jalloh in his place in the 77th.

Apart from two substitutes right near the end Sydney were satisfied that their team were doing the business and rightly so as they sealed the win with a second goal in the 87th minute.

A cut back from the by-line by Marco Tilio was steered home by the ever-reliable Jeremy Cox and soon afterwards Tilio was given his own chance for an early rest, Benjamin Koop coming on for the midfielder.

Cox gave way to Brendan Curtis in stoppage-time as well.

The Wanderers’ other replacement in the 83rd minute, Dylan Ruiz-Diaz, on for Moudi Naijar, had too little time available to make any real impact.

So Sydney took the honours against their old rivals and now need to keep this going if they’re to finish the season in front.

This makes the Group far more interesting and it’s now a three-way tussle for supremacy, with the Jets having the better goal difference, now two adrift of Sydney and needing to win their remaining two games, plus needing the Wanderers to lose their final match as well.

Sydney, surprisingly, after a slow start to the season, can now capitalise if the Wanderers stumble in their final match.

It’s a big IF of course as one more win and the contest is over.

Sydney FC will be at home this Sunday to Central Coast Mariners and complete their regular season commitments with a trip to the ACT to play Canberra United at McKellar Park.

The Jets are in Canberra this weekend and must win to stay in the hunt.

The Wanderers, meanwhile, have a bye and finish the season at Newcastle Number 2 Sports Ground a week later. It’s very much in their own hands in that final match against the Jets, mindful of the results in Round 7 this coming weekend.

Match details

Crowd: Approx 200

Sydney FC: 1 Duro Dragicevic; 6 Andrea Agamemnonos, 3 Patrick Flottmann, 4 Liam McGing, 16 William Munch; 15 Jeremy Cox (2 Brendan Curtis 90+3), 5 Joel King, Samuel McIllhatton (c), 7 Jerry Skotadis, 17 Marco Tilio (18 Benjamin Koop 88); 11 Charles Lokoli Ngoy (9 Hassan Jalloh 77)
Unused sub: 20 Mitchell Evans (rgk)

Yellow cards: Patrick Flottmann 39, Jerry Skotadis 51, Andrea Agamemnonos 81
Coach: Robert Stanton

Western Sydney Wanderers: 1 Jarrad Tyson (gk); 2 Tate Russell 5 Matthew Cordier, 3 Jordan Hall (c), 4 Fabian Monge; 7 Oliver Puflett, 8 Matthew Lecce, 11 Mohamed Adam (14 Adrian Valenti 68), 6 Mohamed Al-Taay, 16 Lochlan Constable (12 Albdelrahman Kuku 69); 9 Moudi Naijar (10 Dylan Ruiz-Diaz 83)
Subs unused: 20 Daniel Axford (rgk)

Yellow cards: Lochlan Constable 68
Coach: Arthur Diles

Points and ratings:

Referee: Michael Bailey 6/10
Assistants: Nathan McOrist and Jack Casey; Fourth Official: Joel Ralston

Players noted: Liam McGing, Marco Tilio, Jerry Skotadis (SFC), Lochlan Constable, Mohamed Al-Taay, Jordan Hall (WSW)

Weather: Mild and dry

Match 7/10
Pitch Synthetic 10/10

Photo: Paul Green