Spirit v Cosmos

Round 25 report by Tony Calder
Northern Spirit v Canberra Cosmos

Spirit probably killed of any faint chance they may have had remaining of a top 2 finish with a disappointing 1-2 result against the Cosmos at NSO in front of just over 10,000 fans.

The first half was probably the worst display that Spirit has put on at home. After an early settling down period, Spirit scored first through Clayton Zane in the 22nd minute. Canberra equalised in the 30th minute when they beat the Spirit off-side trap and Magnacca rolled the ball into an empty net after Roberts had lobbed Henderson.

Canberra certainly deserved to be level at the break, even though their goalkeeper (Knezevic?) had been called upon a couple of times to stop Zane from adding to his tally. They shut down Spirit and won most of the 50-50 balls. Spirit played some nice football when not pressured by the Canberra midfield and defence, but as soon as the pressure was on the passes started going astray.

It looked as though the Spirit players believed they would win just by turning up.

Arnie put a rocket up the lads at half-time, and they came out much more determined than in the first half. Spirit were doing most of the attacking, and had most of the possession, but the Canberra defence was solid, and they were dangerous on the break. Knezevic had an outstanding 2nd half, making several brilliant saves, mostly from Zane. One in particular, when he got his body behind a cracking drive from about 15m - Slater's header from the rebound skimmed the top of the crossbar. He was beaten twice in the half - once by Casserley who hit the post, and once by Foster, who had his header cleared off the line.

Canberra meanwhile always looked dangerous on the break, and de Jesus broke the deadlock in the 73rd minute when he angled a shot in of the far post.

I thought referee Eddie Lennie had a poor game - he allowed the game to flow, but at the expense of allowing some very heavy tackling by both sides. There was one yellow issued to a Canberra player, but there probably should have been a couple more. Marusic, in particular, was lucky to avoid a yellow for a fairly blatant dive in the area late in the game.

Overall, Spirit created more and better chances, but were denied by some outstanding goalkeeping, but Canberra deserved the points for a more determined effort - they won most of the 50-50 balls throughout the game, and generally looked hungrier.