Sydney v Jets

A-League report by Chris Dunkerley
Sydney FC v Newcaslte United Jets

Despite a dominant display for most of the game racing to a 2-0 lead - a brace to new Jets substitute Milton Rodriguez and a red card for Steve Corica meant that it was three points "in the bag" and then two squandered - the game ended as a 2-2 draw.

On a sunny spring afternoon Sydney FC went into this game looking to extend its record unbeaten home run beyond 12 months, having not lost at Sydney Football Stadium since going down to the Mariners on 16 September 2005.

Dwight Yorke-less and with trialist Italian striker Benito Carbone just signed on a short term contract for four guest appearances but not making his league debut until against New Zealand next week, they were nonetheless boosted by the return of captain Mark Rudan and striker Alex Brosque.

With lingering off field concerns, wracked with injuries and on the bottom of the pile after 3 rounds the visiting Jets were looking to soar for coach Nick Theodorakopoulos. Colombian Milton Rodriguez was likely to make an appearance.

Joel Griffiths was back after serving a one-match suspension, but alas Ivan Necevski (who was goalkeeper of the year playing for Blacktown City Demons in the NSW Vodafone Premier League) had just agreed to terms with the Jets as second 'keeper and was not yet able to play, leaving the Jets with only 3 on the bench.

The game started with Sydney FC putting immediate pressure on the Newcastle defence and a 2nd minute corner led to David Zdrilic getting in a shot that was blocked. Mark Milligan, playing on the right of midfield, soon after slotted in a low cross but Alex Brosque could not connect.

First movement forward then for the Jets with Nick Carle pushing the ball forward for Mark Bridge but too far ahead of him. In the 10th minute a great ball played forward for Vaughan Coveny on the right but his angled shot from 20m almost grazed the crossbar.

By 15 minutes you could count the times that the Jets had moved any distance into the Sydney half on one hand.

Steve Corica was making runs to open up the central defence but it was an 18 minute shot from range on the left that skimmed across the goal and went out just missing on the right.

Sydney were by this stage quite dominant but a Carle shot along the ground in the 24th minute drew a save.

Disaster for the visitors in the 32nd minute when a rampant Sydney attacked in numbers and with one route through Zdrilic blocked another opened with Mark Milligan judged by referee Matthew Breeze to have been impeded and Steve Corica stepped up to neatly take the ensuing penalty, passing Ben Kennedy with ease. 1-0

By this stage Sydney were rampant, except for a 25m speculator from Jade North, and it was no surprise therefore when Rudan confidently played a long ball out of defence. Jets defender Paul Kohler misjudged it and David Zdrilic pounced, holding off Andrew Durante and the striker was able to lob a header over the advancing Ben Kennedy in the Jets goal. 2-0

Just when Sydney perhaps had their mind on a half-time rubdown Jets substitute Milton Rodrigeuz got free but sent his shot well wide. Lulled by this Sydney were shocked a mome nt later when the diminutive Colombian was the receiver from a nice move down the left started by Joel Griffiths, assisted by Carle, and he was free to score past a stranded Clint Bolton in the Sydney goal. This was in fact the first time they had convinvingly pierced the Sydney defence all half.

An early raid for Newcastle in the first minute of the second half, up on the left, with Griffiths sending a cross to Rodriguez but he couldn't control.

Sydney upped their tempo and put consistent pressure on the vistors for the next 10 minutes, without penetrating.

At last Carle got in a weak shot, but the game looked all Sydney's, so dominant were they.

In the 62nd minute a free kick was awarded to the Jets, with Sydney slow to organise as Mark Rudan was carded for not retreating. The kick was then quickly taken and that man Rodriguez had made a run down the left, he beat the off-side trap, and sent in a stinging low drive at the near post that Bolton could not hold, and the ball crossed the line to equalise, quite against the grain of the game.

Sydney lost their focus, as was evident 5 minutes later when Steve Corica received a straight red card, and with the fans booing Matthew Breeze the home team was down to ten men.

Still Sydney had firepower and Petrovski headed a cross from the left on to Zdrilic in the area in the 84th minute but the striker headed wide on the right.

It was the Jets however that finished stronger, using the one-man advantage, and it could have been a boilover when Mark Bridge hit the crossbar in the 89th minute. A Bolton save in injury time kept the scores level.

It is hard to remember an A-League game in which one team was so dominat yet lost those precious two points.