A review of the Round 16 A-League match between Sydney united and Carlton played at Parramatta Stadium, Sydney on Sunday 18th January 1998.
All the promise of the (near-enough-to) top of the table clash evaporated in the absence of any sort of decent weather; the absence of some notable players; the absence of a crowd and ultimately the near absence of scoring opportunities. On a rainy night, the honours were shared 1-1 in front of a paltry 3,533 people.
Even despite the absence of Hunter, Marusic and Cervinski Carlton at least looked as though they were interested in and moreover capable of more than merely extracting a draw from this tough away trip. In fairness, United, too, were missing several key players in Plesa (at least available but ultimately not used as a sub), Bennett and player/coach David Mitchell whose convalescence has still a journey to travel. In all however, it was a match in which the defences bettered their respective attacking opponents and each keeper was rarely brought into play.
Not until the 27th minute of the first half was the small crowd given reason to think that either side might register when Kalac, at full stretch, did enough with a generally well directed Vlahos shot to see the ball roll wide of his upright. Even then, the opportunity was borne of some careless play in the United defence rather than of any clever endeavour on Carlton's part.
In the 37th minute, the barren half came to life soon after Kupresak's yellow card for felling Markovski (Jonesy or Santa to his mates) just inside the last third of the field. From the ensuing free kick in the middle of the park, Jonesy found Trajkovski (where else but) out wide who managed a strong and well placed cross to the farr post, where no less than three Carlton players were in line for a strike on goal. Better placed than the other two, Lapsanksy (Lap Kransky?? :) ) wisely assumed responsibility and called the two before him out of the play to clear himself a good sight of the ball. Although Santa probably didn't appreciate having to do so much work in bending down to get out of the way ;), Lap Kransky's header justified the impost as it was fairly punched into the far corner well out of Spider's reach.
In not too dissimilar circumstances, Saad had the chance to level the scores only minutes from half time but apparently had over-run Culina's wicked cross to actually head *away* rather than toward the goal with only Anastasiadis in his path. Grow some hair Abaas - it might offer some reduce your obviously underestimated aerodynamicism ;).
At half time I'm looking around and all I see are Marconi players - Francis Awaritefe and Brad Maloney on Optus and Zeljko Babic behind me in the corporate boxes. What it takes to win I guess.
There wouldn't be too many accumulated minutes in the past few season's play at Parramatta of United being behind in a match. True to form, the home side posted an equaliser straight after the resumption thanks to Kupresak who apparently forgot to change ends. Whilst I'm not quite sure what he was doing so far up, he clearly had reason for being there as he drilled a header from 10 yards after Bilokapic flick-headed a Culina cross toward the farr post.
Burns and Atkinson obviously took exception to each other tonight and were facing off soon after the goal. It resulted in little other than Burns receiving a card, but set the precedent for a few other tense moments later in the half. Clearly there was pride at stake, and in the absence of any significant altercations, it was good to see (although I sometimes cringed in anticipation of Santa lining challenges up from 5 yards - to his credit, he did nothing rash in this regard).
As with the first half, there wasn't too much call for either keeper. However, Anastasiadis produced something of a rubber man act in the 11th minute when he corrected his balance to last-gasp retrieve a Saad header from close range. Perhaps Saad could have been less conservative with his aim, but it was a good retrieve nonetheless.
Unfortunately, it seems that every visit to Parramatta inevitably draws a (hopefully justifiable) derisive comment regarding a particular infamous section of the crowd. Quite aside from the "[At least] we're going to the World Cup" chant that made a brief appearance, Clever Cro saw it fit to sound a referee's whistle just as Vlahos was put through United's last line. At least Vlahos played to the whistle - just the wrong one! Strike one of the very few scoring opportunities for the evening. Cue moron with whistle for the rest of the evening. Referee Hugo made a point of ordering the fourth official (Con Diomos) to note the incident and duly pointed to the general direction of the offender - but Brett baby, not even you're gonna stop this one ;). I wonder what would happen if the same thing occurred at nest week's home game against Ad City to the detriment of the Pumas!! hmmm...
The game was clearly about the domination by both defences of the under-prepared attacking units of both sides. On tonight's performance, how Markovski can be considered a complimentary foil for the nippy and hard-working Vlahos when playing the counter attacking game suggests Eddie Krncevic needs to polish his comedy routine. (Geeze I'd be pissed off at the disparity in their respective workloads if I were Andy Vlahos).
Nonetheless, as is typical, the match offered chances to either side to take the prize just before the final whistle. After his introduction with about 20 minutes to go, Allsopp (who looks awkwardly bulky it must be said) couldn't strike fast enough when facing Kalac from close range before Munro snuffed the chance with a desperate lunging tackle. At the other end, Saad didn't anticipate a sharp cross and was found well short of a driven ball to the farr post.
The draw was probably a fair result but not a fair spectacle - well at least not when it came to the final thirds of the pitch. Whilst both sides showed some flair in midfield (although I thought Carlton's middlemen went missing for large parts of the second half) neither side could find the ideas to get behind the defences; Carlton - some nice passing, but too reliant on the break; United, more cohesive as a team but too reliant at times on bombing the ball to the forwards (since when was this the plan guys????). I think the match could have done with the presence of Mitchell, Plesa (in particular), Hunter and Marusic (perhaps the midfield Jonesy ;) ).
The premiership continues.
Unofficial match details _____________________________ Final Score: Sydney United 1 (Kupresak 47) Carlton 1 (Lapsansky 36) Teams: Sydney United: Kalac, Barrett (Phillips 66), Kupresak, Vrkic, Hooker, Saad, Munro, J. Culina, Bilokapic, Burns, Sterjovski (Bosevski 60). Carlton: Anastasiadis, Trajkovski, Stergiopoulos (Allsopp 68), Douglas, Anthopoulos, Lapsansky (Bacak 74), Vlahos, Colosimo, Grella (Della Rocca 79), Markovski, Atkinson. Cards: (All yellow) Sydney United: Kupresak (36), Burns (52), Bilokapic (65). Carlton Grella (35), Stergiopoulos (37), Lapsansky (52), Colosimo (90). Best: 3 pts: Kupresak 2 pts: no obvious other selections Crowd: 3,533 (admittedly a rain-affected evening - but poor nonetheless. In case you haven't noticed Puma fans, United are on top of the League!!). Referee: Brett Hugo. Rating: 5/10 (although partly due to assistant referees) officials seemed to get a few things noticeably wrong. No critical mistakes though. Match rating: 5/10 At best, a moderate performance from two top of the table sides.
Is Simon Colosimo related to Vince (the Wogboys actor - showing my roots here eh ;)) cause he sure looks like him??!!