I honestly think that Mr Breeze (?) gave the worst display of refereeing I have ever had the misfortune to witness. His main problem was gross inconsistency and, unfortunately, his decisions favoured Sydney United. I'm not suggesting he cheated, but they came out that way. United are obviously more street wise than the mainly young STRIKERS in that they go down Ginola style at the merest contact while, time and again, STRIKERS players suffered the same type of tackles, but elected to stay on their feet which, paradoxically, was to their disadvantage.
It was another cool evening (for Brisbane) and 4300 odd were said to be present. Interestingly, Kossie started with young Wayne Srhoj (Bonnie, how is that properly pronounced?) and newcomer Stuart McLaren who has had to take the number 13 shirt. The former began nervously and, I think, lost possession in midfield which lead to United's first goal, very well struck from just inside the box from the left to pass Bolton at the far post and into the roof of the net. This at 5 minutes, and a brief chant of "Croatia" started behind us, but we knew they weren't fair dinkum as it was pronounced the Oz way! Crofty (who had arranged a cab to whisk him off to his flight to the UK after the game) told me at half time that a stocky lad in and England shirt and not much hair turned round to the Croatia chanters and said quite forcefully "Shut the f**k up!" and not only did they, but they moved away too!
I suspect we have found what we need up front in McLaren. He took a while to settle, but gradually started holding the ball up well, taking on and often beating men, making good space and runs, always aware of the last defender and constantly moving - most impressive debut. OHY was bumbling about as usual and eventually reactivated the hammie injury and was just about to be replaced by Knipey when Harris was sent off for a tackle over the ball. Kossie responded by bringing on Jade North, I believe aged 16, who is another great find. The lad had a blinder as his confidence gradually improved and I hope Kossie will give him a start soon.
The first equalizer was a solo drive forward from Laybutt who makes these penetrating runs at speed a couple of times each game and this time struck his shot against the right post and then the rebound into the net. I thought it may have been Stuart McLaren - not quite sure. A few more dubious decisions later and, following a corner I'm sorry to report, Bolton, who still is unsure when to come and when to stay, tried to do both, did neither and a looping header caught him out. 1-2. This cued a very brief genuine "Cr-art-zia" chant from the far end of the grandstand to which a few vulgar chaps just in front of us responded with " Take your f***ing table cloths and f**k off home"
Just before half time McLaren scored his first for us, and it was all class. Back to goal, skilled turn, chip over keeper off line - so what if there seemed to be a small deflection? No STRIKER since FF would even have contemplated it. Can't wait to see him in action again.
The second half was full of tension and guts by the STRIKERS. Mr Breeze continued to antagonize the crowd, no more so than when McLaren was pushed down in the box near the end. The kind of incident which seemed to have resulted in United receiving free kicks all night. Towards the end Cranney was absolutely knackered and couldn't get back to defend at all, so Kossie sent on Knipe who buzzed and combined very well with the new boy, and North, sent to the left was effective there too. I'd like to see him take that left wing back role in future.
The STRIKERS were making Sydney United look as if they were the man down and we were sorry Mr Breeze, despite all the injuries (often apparently feigned by United players towards the end) and the late tactical subs by United, found only a minute of injury tome to add on. The final whistle was greeted with a loud roar for the STRIKERS and prolonged booing for the ref.
I've been very concerned by Zorro pumping futile long ball recently, so did a "Z count" of them last night - 7 in all.
Best game since the Grand Final and bodes well for the future. Any neutrals out there see it on Optus? Was the ref that bad, or am I totally biased?