Newcastle v Sydney

Round 9 report by Mick Kmet
Newcastle United v Sydney United

In what can only be described as an awful game of football Newcastle United and Sydney United stumbled their way to a 0-0 draw.

It was hard to believe that this was national league football. Possession was virtually non-existent and the passing was amateur at best. What was worse, however, was that none of the players seemed interested.

The game was lethargic, the crowd was silent, and sitting through the ninety minutes was excruciating.

Ian Crook took the unusual step of playing midfielders Greg Owens and Damien Brown up front while striker Esala Masi was left on the bench. Brown, unaccustomed to the forward role, looked lost and constantly drifted back to the midfield, leaving an out of sorts Greg Owens the lone man up front.

While Newcastle had early dominance they couldnąt penetrate the rock solid Sydney defence. This defence had only conceded four goals so far this season and the Newcastle attack would have to be a bit more imaginative to break down the experienced backline of Joe Vrkic, Mark Rudan, and Damon Collina.

Against the run of play Sydney nearly pinched the lead when Rudan headed a Franco Parisi corner over the bar the fifteenth minute.

Twelve minutes later Perosh found a Labinot Haliti shot too hot to handle, but cleaned up in time to snuff the advancing Sydney attack.

In the 29th minute a fine Robert Middleby cross had the Sydney defence scrambling and Michael Cunico had to prevent the floating ball from going over the goal line by heading over the crossbar.

Newcastle did score a goal in the 57th minute to bring the crowd to life, but the scorer Greg Owens was adjudged to be offside.

In the 63rd minute Sydney coach Grant Lee made the unbelievable decision to substitute Parisi. The young striker looked the most likely on the pitch to break the deadlock.

Lee, did however, justify this decision in the post-match press conference by saying that the youngster is still a little green for senior football and that he drifted too wide in the second half.

In the 79th minute Newcastle keeper John Perosh had to be at his best to parry a Zeljko Babic pole-driver.

Sydney had certainly the better of the second half, but as Newcastle couldnąt penetrate the Sydney back three, the away team couldnąt get past the Newcastle defensive trio of Adam Griffiths, Peter Tsekenis, and Craig Dean. Deans was playing his first national league in eighteen months and looked very strong.

Both coaches were unstandably disappointed with their charges.

Ian Crook stated that his team was down on confidence after three straight losses and lacked the zip they had earlier in the year. He vowed to stick with this team next week although some of his more higher profile players were very poor tonight ­ namely Greg Owens, Milan Blagojevic, and Scott Thomas.

Grant Lee was also disappointed saying that everyone lacked zip tonight ­ his team, the home team, and the crowd.