But before you read too much into it....referee Micallef started something he couldn't finish and left United playing with 9 men for the bulk of the match. Babic was dismissed somewhere (?) around the 15th minute I would guess for felling Harper who was apparently in a goal-scoring opportunity somewhere very wide and very close to the half-way line!!!!! Babic fully intended to bring him down (although without malice I hasten to add) but if the Micallef wants to convince me that Harper was a good thing to strike on goal let alone score, then i haven't time to listen to his explanation.... There were defenders trcking back in the centre of the field and all.....Jee-zus!!
Somewhere closer to half time than to the start of the match, Paul Bilokapic scored his second yellow and it was from then on that the outcome of the match was an odds-on bet. Bilokapic deserved a yellow for his cynical attempt to fell Sean Babic en route to goal. Again, however, the incident took place in a very similar position to the aforementioned incident and not in at all dissimilar circumstances!!!! One was a yellow card incident, one was a red card incident - surely hard-enough evidence for a case against the catalogue of decisions (and I'm not referring only to the two described above) made by the ref!!!
Funnily enough, I thought Simon Micallef had gumption for not backing out of the second send-off. But the series of cards and decisions prior to it and definitely after it should surely see him spend a week or two away from the top flight......Think nothing of the fact that Marconi also had a player sent off late in the match. Don't be fooled by that cosmetic fact when you hear about it elsewhere - what a fucken square-up! But more to the point, how piss-weak it was to see Micallef offer such a token gesture just prior to having to end the match (BTW: it was Casserly collecting his second yellow). Like Sean Babic's in particular, but many others as well, Casserly's second yellow was almost an admission of guilt more than anything else............very frustrating....
Oh yeah, the match itself?! Brilliant derby match considering all things. No, let me revise that upwards as deserved. A superb derby match (and admittedly probably also because, and not in spite of) Micallef's over-stated presence.
End-to-end, millions of chances, plainly too many chances to catalogue, and stuff me if the 11,614 people didn't fully get into it - like, I'm talking real bloody, full-on chanting and involvement!! If Micallef did a job on the field, then that bloody "Cro-atzia" chant topped it off off the field!! I kid you not, there was a real charge in the air!!! However, had there been another large group of opposing and fiesty supporters, then I'd guess last week's horrific look into the psyche of Australian Soccer would have paled into insignificance.....Get a life you bloody hangers-on!!! Listen carefully! "Hrvatska no play tonight blody!"
But cripes the game was good! Where were you all?!?! Beautiful balmy evening, an easy-access stadium (but where's the parking for the plebs??) and surely the best spectacle all year despite the no-contest.
Sydney United did themselves proud - very proud! Gutsy; Spirited (and yes, the capitals are intended) and all in the face of adversity! Man of the match was Ante Milicic who without fail embarrassed several of the Stallions backline and all the while (well, more often than not) all on his lonesome! Brilliant - the best game I've seen him play!
In short, Marconi opened the scoring within 10 (?) minutes of the start when Sean Babic collected a pass unjustifiably missed by Rudan in the middle of defence. Being the last man, Rudan could only watch in horror as Babic sped to the loose ball an advanced it up to and then under a sprawling Zjelko Kalac. Notably, Rudan had been clattered into the subs bench within about 10 seconds of the kick-off and had injured himself sufficiently to prevent him from taking the field immediately. However, he was able to resume his place in defence minutes later. Branko Culina had Vel Kupresak warming up immediately after seeing Rudan give that decisive ball away.....
To some extent, Rudan's blushes were harnessed (if not spared altogether) when David Zdrilic registered an equaliser almost immediately thanks to a fumble from Les Pogliacomi in the Stallions goal. With players at all points of the six-yard box, Pogliacomi fumbled a cross he probably should have taken with little concern, which allowed Zdrilic the easiest of tap-ins.
In spite of this, Rudan was subbed immediately and perhaps diminished his honour a little by subtly indicating that his knee(?) was to blame for his error at the back - I wouldn't be too happy seeing that if one of my team mates tried the same thing....why did he resume if he wasn't OK????
United held Marconi to 1-1 until the break and indeed were creating by far many more genuine chances on goal despite being two men down. Again, Milicic was dynamic.
The second half saw United contribute further to what was an amazing game, but ultimately saw them also succumb to the inevitable..... Marconi were seasoned enough to play wisely and above all, patiently, although for a lnog while it looked as though United were going to be able to negotiate a draw.
Marconi played smart and merely ground the red shirts to a stand still. But again, what a game. Just too many strikes on goal and incidents to be able to report. For whilst ever the score was 1-1, the crowd was madly behind everything United did (it's just that everyone was resigned to the inevitable once Zoric put Marconi ahead mid way through the second half).
Check it out on SBS for yourself, but from where I was Zoric's goal (I say Zoric's goal but it was actually Harper who did the easy bit by tapping the ball into the net from a handful of yards out) was sublime. It was as Brazilian as Johhny YCSTJ Warren would want and it amply highlighted the grounding Zoric has had in indoor soccer. Once, twice, three times.. I lost count as to the number of times Zoric shimmied or feigned to shoot whilst gracefully gliding down the left side of the penalty box. He must have turned Kupresak inside out at least twice before supplying Harper an easy opportunity to add to his year's tally. Indeed, Zoric himself turned to the crowd to receive the adulation such was his involvement.
If only we were in another country - it might be considered a goal worthy of the world stage.........hmmmmmppff
Later in the half, and nearing I'd guess the eighty minute mark(?), Harper registered his second and Marconi's inevitable third when he skillfully guided his low shot inside Kalac's near post after an incisive angled run passed albeit a dead-weary United defence into the box.
United were galant and very much in the game for the most-part, but in truth you always knew Marconi were going to win after Micallef had started acting tough only to finish the match I'm guessing with his tail between his legs. As a final observation on his performance I convey an incident (at 1-1) which left me dumb-founded; so much so that I am paranoid that I didn't see correctly and should defer to the replay before committing to the implied accusation. There was one instance near the top of the United penalty area when Kupresak (at least to me) clearly headed the ball back to Kalac amidst some light traffic. Micallef saw something that I am scared I missed as he otherwise saw fit to award an indirect free kick for passing the ball back to the keeper - why was I not the only one wondering what was going on? You know those rare occassions when the whole stadium stops for just a second to appreciate what has happened..............yeah, well 'nuff said!
All things said though, why weren't you all there to see it????????????? [Speaking for myself, because of the kind of people Sydney United, and to a lesser extent Marconi attract. Read the other report for what I mean - Thomas] Where we in any country of Europe (or South America for that matter....or...) then you would be reading about a derby match that would become folklore!
I'd be keen to hear otherwise, but I think I've kept my enthusiasm to justifiable levels in any previous report, and so too in this one. Always mindful that readers want to have conveyed the true and not the romanticised spirit of combat...........but you know, even in spite of this, tonight's game (yet again) convinced me that soccer will one day be number one in this country - it was that good!
I wasn't intending to report this game (as you'll no doubt tell by the lack of detail), but the event couldn't pass without mention even if it was effectively an unfair contest. What a gem............