Sunday, 11 October 2015

REVIEW: Sydney FC 1-1 Melbourne City (HAL Round 1)


It's an hour before kick-off in Wellington as I write this but as it stands, after four games played, this was the Match of the Round. Sydney FC and Melbourne City played out a thrilling season-opening draw last year and it was no difference last night as they produced a fairly entertaining match-up.

Melbourne City were first to strike and it stunned the Allianz Stadium crowd as young debutant Wade Dekker found himself baring down on Vedran Janjetovic's goal after a mistake from Jacques Faty. The 21-year old (who I just found out was born on the same day as yours truly) made no mistake and slotted his first A-League goal; much to his own disbelief.

City controlled the first half and could have gone in with a big lead at the break. One of the major-talking points of the game came when Janjetovic seemingly brought down Robert Koren inside the penalty box. The keeper escaped punishment and the decision was questioned by the Fox Sports commentators as replays were shown.

Referee Ben Williams explained his decision after the match and told media his interpretation was that Koren instigated the simultaneous contact. Credit to the FFA, Fox Sports and all involved for allowing the referee to give his side of the story (something that other sports could benefit from).

As mentioned, Sydney could have been done by more than one at the half-time break; instead they went in at 1-1 as new marquee Filip Holosko scored a crucial goal in first-half stoppage time. It would have no doubt changed the half-time team talks and it left the match evenly poised.

The second half finished scoreless but it wasn't without entertainment. Sydney FC had the majority of chances in the second stanza and no doubt the best one of the game came when youngster George Blackwood smashed a point-blank header straight into Thomas Sorensen's midriff, much to the Danish custodian's relief.

City's star man Aaron Mooy made a cameo appearance off the bench but due to jetlag after his Socceroos expedition he wasn't able to make too much of an impact. Both sides will see positives in the 1-1 result and I feel as though both these teams will be in the battle for silverware this season.

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Every team that has played this weekend has had some breakout newcomers and Sydney is no different after the 21-year old defensive midfielder played an outstanding first A-League game in Sky Blue colours. He missed out any real chance at Perth and looks to be fitting in very well at Sydney FC. Expect some big things from O'Neill this season.

Thomas Sorensen brought a bucketload of experience with over 200 Premier League games and he showed it last night by pulling off some decent saves in goal for Melbourne City. Squad depth is one of City's strengths and with Tando Velaphi as a back-up option in goals, City have a headache into just which keeper they go with. Two very good options.

Milos Dimitrijevic was key in Sydney's midfield and really brought the game to life in the second half. Dimitrijevic rarely has a bad game and last night was another strong performance from the Serbian in the heart of Sydney FC's midfield.




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