Canberra suffered their sixth loss in a row for the 1998-99 season. This time the opponents were last year's Grand Final runners-up Carlton. The scoreline was 3-0 and from comments around, this was a fair indication of the game.
Carlton were missing a number of players, either through injuries or through suspensions including the very important Andrew Marth and Ljubo Lapsanski. The Cosmos had the closest they have all season to a full squad with just Wilson, James and Hudec missing through injury. Unusual as it may seem, the Cosmos probably have the best disciplinary record of any team in the league now averaging less than 2 cautions a game!
Canberra started with a somewhat suprise in the backline, but otherwise the lineup was predictable. Knezevic in goal with Amarildo as sweeper. The centre backs were Popovich and Zelic with Clarke and Marcina as wing-backs. Big Danny Burt played just in front of the defenders, Kelly as centre-midfield and Musitano behind the two forwards of Buljan and Magnacca.
Onto the game and the most important aim for the Cosmos was not to concede an early goal, alike 4 of their last 5 games. Although defence in this early period was a high priority, attack was to be given its opportunity but this rarely arised.
Then in the 30th minute Andy Vlahos travelled down the right and cut back the ball from the goal line to the far post. David Cervinski arrived in time to slot the ball home for his first goal of the season.
Unlike in the past matches where a goal scored by the opposition meant the Cosmos dropped their heads, this time they actually lifted themeselves and searched for the equaliser. Still it appeared Carlton were not playing well and alike Perth the previous week were sitting back on their lead and defending.
Numerous chances fell to the visitors but one after another, they were spurned. The main culprits were Buljan, Magnacca and Burt. Danny had the best opportunity when he deflected a cross, but unfortuantely to the wrong side of the post.
Reports at half-time stated that the Cosmos deserved to go in at equal terms considering the number of chances they had, but the overall time of possession favoured Carlton, yet the defence of Canberra was holding well.
Canberra commenced the second half as they finished the first but the resurgence was halted when just over ten minutes into the half, New Zealander Sean Douglas sent a 40m punt up the field. His long-ball fortuantely found Joe Tricarico who waited for the ball to settle before chipping Vilson from the edge of the penalty area. This has not been the first time he has been chipped in a game.
In a five minute period Rale made three changes. Replacing two of his three forwards and changing his goalkeeper. Barlow was brought on for Vilson, who from all accounts was not pleased with the decision.
Grant, who had played the previous night for the AIS and let in a goal from Cosmos team-mate Jeff Howarth that was very soft to say the least, had the early fumbles on his first save and after three bites at the ball needed his defence to clear.
Canberra started to push a few more players forward, yet it was Carlton who came the closest to scoring through Vlahos and Moriera. Then with under ten minutes to go the game was sealed for Carlton after some nice work by Marco Bresciano saw him cut inside alongside the edge of the box and send a low drive between two defenders and past Barlow.
The Cosmos still tried to the end and in the last minute it took a strong save at the feet of Prenzoski by Carlton keeper Adrian Cagalj to maintain his clean sheet.
One extra incident that occured in the second half has led to a little controversy over Carlton's usage of Optus Oval. The Blues had a corner and Canberra was able to clear and take the ball forward. When the Cosmos player beat his first man he was one-on-one with a Carlton defender, but as he was moving forward slipped on the cricket pitch.
Rare quotes are obtainable from the papers, but one from Rale says "We've got the youngest team in the league and we're competitive, but we're getting punsished for inexcusable errors."