A debut A-League goal from Adam le Fondre has secured a point for Sydney FC after a rather uninspiring performance at Coopers Stadium in Adelaide.
For much of the night, Adelaide United looked the likely winners, yet with their only clear cut chance of the match, Sydney somehow equalised and snatched a point on the opening night of the season.
After a cagey opening half hour, the danger signs were there for the Sky Blues. Despite a couple of promising forays down the left edge, where Michael Zullo managed to get in behind, Sydney offered little in attack. Even when space was made, the centred ball was, more often than not, poor and Adelaide repelled attacks with ease.
The Reds created a cracking chance for Craig Goodwin mid way through the first half and Andrew Redmayne did brilliantly to block a shot that appeared destined for his net. The resolute Adelaide defence continued its dominance for the remainder of the half and from nowhere, with just seconds remaining before the break, Scott Galloway launched what appeared to be a hopeful yet forlorn strike from distance.
Fortunately for the Reds, Redmayne had drifted off his line and despite the shot having little angle, it looped over the outstretched arm of the keeper as he desperately attempted to salvage the situation. It was a goal keeping error 101 and Andrew Redmayne does not need to be told of the poor positional play that led to the goal.
The Reds took the 1-0 lead into the break with glee and subsequently made a bright start to the second half. Soon after, tensions rose and the cards began to flow. Josh Brillante and Rhyan Grant were booked within fifteen minutes of the resumption and minor scuffles broke out, before Adelaide took control with half an hour remaining.
Most concerning for Sydney was Adam le Fondre’s inability to work into the game despite a relatively even spread of possession. Sydney had enough ball to create better chances than they were able to conjure and the absence of Trent Buhagiar’s speed up front was noticeable. The service offered to le Fondre from both Milos Ninkovic and Alex Brosque was rarely on point and an obvious disconnection was apparent.
To Adelaide’s credit, they stifled, grappled and wrestled the Sydney attack, eventually frustrating the Sky Blues’ midfield and drawing multiple fouls throughout the second half. The pattern had been set early; a committed Adelaide defence and a clunky and impotent Sydney attack saw the visitors fail to find a meaningful shot on goal for three-quarters of the match.
That was until the 78th minute, when from seemingly nowhere, Ninkovic snuck in behind down the left side and le Fondre finished neatly at the near post. The goal stunned Adelaide and potentially felt a little undeserved from the perspective of the home fans.
In truth, it was a game of few chances. Before and after Redmayne’s error, Adelaide also struggled to create clear opportunities and with Sydney similarly pouncing on one moment, a 1-1 result seemed somewhat fair. The final ten minutes saw the Sky Blues start to look the more enthusiastic and desperate outfit and Charles Lokolingoy offered some real energy in the front third.
Elsewhere, it was tough to find a shining light for Sydney. Josh Brillante was perhaps Sydney’s best; resolute in midfield and striving to inspire those in front. Sadly for Sydney, it was not to be on the opening night of season 2018/19.
Irrespective of the point gained, the alarming nature of the contest for Sydney was the inability to create chances amidst the enthusiastic and committed Adelaide defence. Both teams will feel they were well below par, yet Sydney will be particularly concerned with the performances of le Fondre, Siem de Jong and Milos Nonkovic who, despite their best efforts, had little impact on the game tonight.
Adelaide United 1 Sydney FC 1
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