Sydney v Adelaide

A-League report by Stephen Webb
Sydney FC v Adelaide United

Sydney tonight proved they were the equal of any team in the competition but still not good enough to win a game.

Adelaide, meanwhile, remained unbeatable — even when their coach admitted they were the lesser team on the day.

Sydney can come up with a dozen excuses but that is all they will be. How can you lose despite camping on the edge of your opponent's penalty area for long periods and having ten corners and 25 shots compared to a paltry three and nine respectively?

It seems it is Sydney's special talent.

Rain made way for a sunny evening, even though most of the pitch was in shadow when the game began.

Adelaide's significant absentee was young danger man Matthew Leckie on international duty. Sydney started again without Nicky Carle (that cursed toe) and with Sung-Hwan Byun out injured. But the man they were really missing — really missing compared to the previous season — was Steve Corica. Someone who could provide and score goals.

Crowd numbers were again pitiful. A guy behind me told his missus there was more security than people in the stands. Perhaps the fans will return when marquee Carle makes a reappearance.

Statistics show that Sydney have been getting shots away (though to listen to the crowd you'd never think so). It's just that the shots have been too far away from goal. In fact most of Sydney's statistics place them high in the mix of teams that actually win games. Tonight we'd have been happy with a draw. But, oh, for a win against the team topping the table!

On with the show.

Sydney skipper Terry McFlynn did well winning a tackle and playing a one-two with Bruno Cazarine. His return to Cazarine, moving into a good position through Adelaide's backline, was disappointing.

Alex Brosque got into the right side of Adelaide's penalty area as Robert Cornthwaite fell over but Sydney could only play deep for a Scott Jamieson long shot high over goal.

Brosque again on the right hit a good cross that just grazed Cazarine's head at the far post.

Some Sydney fans behind me freaked out as Mark Bridge got a break on goal but passed back to Brosque and another attack fizzed.

So far it had been all Sydney but … nothing to show.

Cassio rounded McFlynn down the left and played a one-two with Lucas Pantelis before hitting a good cross to Sergio van Dijk at the near post.

Marcos Flores beat two players down the right wing but Jamieson robbed him and he fouled Jamieson.

Brosque, now down the left, was giving someone hell.

Van Dijk played to Paul Reid on the right who passed to Cassio on the left; Cassio winning a corner off Shannon Cole. Cazarine was good defending a long Adelaide free kick into Sydney's penalty area.

Brosque managed to get around Cassio but Brosque and Bridge still couldn't get shots away. Cazarine ran in from the left and had a shot that almost went out over the right touchline.

Pantelis had a good run and found Joseph Keenan ghosting into Sydney's penalty area. Sydney made compound defensive errors before McFlynn hoicked the ball away.

As Sydney played keep the ball 20 metres from Adelaide's goal someone behind me yelled, "Shoot!" Cole had a go, blocked, but Sydney won a corner which Iain Fyfe headed clear.

Sydney put together a good combination of passes and sent Jamieson down the left but Cassio had switched wings and gave Jamieson a good chase before conceding a corner.

Cassio and Pantelis got around McFlynn but Adelaide were penalised as the cross came in.

Cornthwaite took Brosque's legs just outside Adelaide's penalty area — but no free kick in any case. At the other end Cassio crossed and Sebastian Ryall headed clear.

Keenan had a run on goal but the ball fell too close to Liam Reddy.

In the 28th minute Brosque finally got free in the Adelaide penalty area. With a defender on his shoulder a shot seemed on (a voice behind me yelled, "Finish! Pull the trigger!") But Brosque saw Cazarine arriving at the near post and delivered perfectly. Cazarine, with pressure from Fyfe, slid in and took the ball wide.

Adelaide worked the ball from right to left through Flores, Pantelis and Keenan. The cross for van Dijk had the striker leaning back at the right post but he still managed to pop the ball up, causing Reddy no end of trouble.

Adelaide fans below me got suddenly noisy as Pantelis hit the side netting.

Hirofumi Moriyasu, steaming into the Adelaide penalty area, was axed down by Adam Hughes. Again no foul ruled. Interesting.

In the 37th minute Brosque pounced on a poor back pass but stumbled just when he needed a touch to round Eugene Galekovic.

A minute later McFlynn put some pressure on Keenan and won a corner. A Ryall header was deflected wide and Sydney had another corner. Fyfe was penalised, yellow carded for pulling (though there was conjecture it was Hughes), and Sydney had a penalty. From which Brosque put Sydney in the lead.

Suddenly Sydney were rampant. A combination between Cazarine and Brosque almost yielded Sydney's second. Then Cazarine and Bridge almost came closer … but for great keeping by Galekovic.

Sydney came again with Jamieson switching from the left and Bridge playing in from the right of the area but Cornthwaite hooked the ball away from Cazarine's chest near the goal box.

At half time former young Sydney star Iain Ramsay replaced Keenan.

Sydney were on the attack again in the second half. Moriyasu beat Pantelis twice, played a one-two with Bridge and had his shot stopped by Cornthwaite.

Cassio shot over the crossbar from the left of the penalty area.

A good Sydney ball from the right found Cazarine in Adelaide's penalty area … but at too much of a stretch.

Jamieson's yellow was for catching the heels of Flores. The contact was sufficient to see Flores suffer a hamstring injury and be replaced by Travis Dodd.

In the 56th minute Dodd pulled down Jamieson who lay there expecting a free kick. Guess he'd never heard the words, "Play the whistle." Pantelis got away and found van Dijk in front of goal. Cole was on hand to take the ball from van Dijk's toes … and steer it into his own net.

Sydney piled on the pressure and Cole was soon trying to make amends, hitting a good, long shot from the right.

Pantelis stole between McFlynn and Stuart Musialik getting a counter attack under way. Dodd won a corner but there was no danger for Sydney who were back on the attack through a Bridge run and shot across goal, just wide of the left post.

Daniel Mullen replaced van Dijk, injured since the first half, and Cornthwaite moved into the lone striker's position.

In the 64th minute Galekovic saved a Moriyasu shot and McFlynn shooting off the rebound was blocked by Mullen.

In the 66th minute Bridge shot from the edge of the goal box and Galekovic, down to his right, just got his hand to the ball. Moriyasu sprayed a shot very wide to the left of goal and Brosque and Bridge diddled on the edge of the penalty area, allowing Reid to walk away with the ball.

Moriyasu, Brosque and Cazarine passed around the edge of the Adelaide penalty area, going nowhere. Brosque danced on the ball and Mullen easily dispossessed him. Reddy got hold of the ball and the Sydney fans yelled, "Have a shot!"

Bridge played Brosque through but the ball was too long … until a defender played it against Galekovic and Brosque almost had a second chance.

Cazarine won a corner off Mullen and from the corner headed wide to the left of goal. Hughes won a corner off Ryall and Ramsay missed a sitter from the right side of goal.

Brosque won a corner off Cameron Watson (who along with Adelaide's other backs had a darned good game) and Bridge shot high. McFlynn played in from the right, Adelaide cleared for a corner from which Cazarine popped an easy catch for Galekovic.

Sydney's best chance to snatch the winner came from Bridge who missed a seemingly easy header in front of goal.

And so the winner came at the other end. In a similar situation to Adelaide's first goal, Brendan Gan fell, letting Cornthwaite get away down the right. Cornthwaite, like a seasoned forward, skipped through Stephan Keller and pulled the ball back for Ramsay — unmarked because three or four Sydney defenders were thinking only of Cornthwaite. An embarrassing disgrace. Reddy must have been livid to find himself facing Ramsay with a free shot.

Adelaide went home with the three points leaving Sydney still locked to the foot of the table.

Sydney's "Killer Bees" again proved to be mere drones. All that possession and 18 shots off target. Crossing your fingers and flicking the ball blindly doesn't set up chances. And certainly doesn't score goals.

On the way out the SFS gates I heard a bloke tell his son, "No Corica, no creativity."

Stevie? Nicky? Anyone?