Sydney FC has faced, matched and ultimately defeated the Western Sydney Wanderers, in the first of three A-League derbies for 2018/19.
Once again the City will remain well and truly sky blue after a 2-0 defeat that saw plenty of enterprising play, an excellent surface for football and the unwanted controversy of the VAR rearing its ugly head once again.
With a handful of games slated for the venue, the Sydney Cricket Ground played host and it was pleasing that a 30,000 plus crowd made the night as special and interesting as a derby should be. Hopefully, the experience was acceptable for the fans. There have already been some concerns raised about viewing and a potential atmospheric void, however, considering the pending demolition of the Sydney Football Stadium, it may just be a necessary and short period of inconvenience.
Moreover, if the Sky Blues continue to play the way they did on Saturday night, there is no doubt the fans will be back. The Wanderers were caught on the hop after just four minutes when Adam le Fondre found the net for the second consecutive week and the newly nicknamed ‘ALF’ looks like becoming a vital cog in the Sydney attack this season.
The Englishman is a completely different beast to Bobo, who dominated the scoring for Sydney over the last two seasons. His darting runs and tirelessly energy off the ball create pockets for others to enter. Alex Brosque looked revitalised by that space and had a superb game, topped off by a second half goal that sealed the deal for the home side.
Defensively, it was a superb effort from Sydney. Brandon O’Neill and Josh Brilliante were in aggressive moods; stifling attack after attack from Western Sydney and Alex Wilkinson and Rhyan Grant were polished and precise at the back. The visitors found little fluidity in attack despite a few chances coming their way. Most of those chances were a result of Sydney’s mental errors rather than polished build up from the Wanderers, something that Steve Corica noted at the break. The training track will be used this week to work on that aspect and the continued development of the combinations up front.
The Wanderers did find the net before VAR controversy ensued. Personally, it appeared a clear case of an offside player obstructing a Sydney FC defender as he attempted to chase in behind the back four. Many seemed to feel the contact was minimal and so it may have been. More to the point was the off-side positioning that saw the attacker forbidden to engage in the play.
He certainly did and the goal was rightfully disallowed. Markus Babbel disagreed, copped a red for his reaction and booted some advertising pads on his way from the bench. The Sydney FC fans gave him a send-off to remember. After labelling his team as the ‘worst in the league’ during the week, the new manager will have a lot of thinking and reflecting to do over the next few days; planning a strategy to get his team back on track.
It was another derby delight for the Sky Blues, only soured by what appeared to be a minor hamstring strain to Siem de Jong in the final moments of the match. With the FFA Cup final on Tuesday against Adelaide, the celebrations will be short lived, as Sydney eye off the first piece of available silverware for the season.
It won’t be long before the second A-League derby rolls around and the teams will go at it all over again but for now, the City remains the light shade of blue that the Sydney fans love so much.
Sydney FC 2 Western Sydney Wanderers 0