Sydney FC’s 1-1 draw with the Central Coast Mariners at Leichhardt Oval was another case of the Sky Blues doing everything right off the pitch and not a lot right on it.
How good was watching an A-League game at a packed Leichhardt?
The old ground looked a treat decked out in sky blue – and kudos to the sizeable contingent of travelling Mariners fans too – as Sydney FC proved once again that it’s possible to draw a crowd despite leading a nomadic existence.
The ground itself might not be the easiest for A-League fans to actually get to, but just about everything went right for Sydney FC on the day.
That is, of course, if you ignore what happened on the pitch.
And on the basis of yesterday’s performance it seems safe to say that Sydney FC won’t be winning the A-League this season.
You could just tell it was going to be one of those days for the Sky Blues when Ben Kennedy tipped a Milos Ninkovic strike onto the woodwork and the Serbian playmaker smashed the resultant rebound the wrong side of the far post.
Kennedy is hardly the most reliable goalkeeper but he was more brick wall than butter fingers in the summer sunshine.
And if it wasn’t for Sydney FC receiving what looked to be a soft penalty they would have come away from a game against the league’s bottom side with nothing.
Why is that?
It’s not as if they lack quality. So what is it about this season’s team that’s so different to previous incarnations?
Plenty of critics are starting to point the finger at rookie coach Steve Corica.
It’s true there’s been some questionable decision–making at times – taking off Danny De Silva when the midfielder was controlling the game against Brisbane Roar a fortnight ago foremost among them.
But surely it can’t all be down to the influence of the coach. Or can it?
The Sky Blues huffed and puffed against a stubborn Central Coast outfit, but after failing to break the deadlock they seemed to simply run out of steam.
Does Corica adequately motivate his players? What about his substitutions?
I just wonder if the signing of Reza Ghoochannejhad hasn’t robbed Sydney FC of some of their equilibrium.
The Iranian is a class player – that much is obvious whenever he touches the ball – but where Sydney’s attacking play used to be funnelled through Adam le Fondre, the Sky Blues now seem to be second-guessing themselves.
Whatever the explanation, the Mariners were good value for their point.
They certainly put up more of a fight than Brisbane Roar did in their 4-0 mauling at the hands of Perth Glory on Saturday night.
Absolutely nothing has gone right for the Roar this season – the club was furious when goalkeeper Jamie Young’s three-game suspension was only reduced by a game on appeal last week – and some questions probably need to be asked of the judicial process.
This is not to imply that former Socceroos defender Alan Davidson is anything but an impartial judge, but how fair is it to ask him to adjudicate on a Match Review Panel that upholds Young’s suspension against a team for whom Davidson’s own son ends up opening the scoring?
A more professionally administered competition wouldn’t allow that sort of thing to happen.
Still, it was great to see to see another suburban stadium success story on Sunday and I have a feeling it won’t be the only boutique in use next season.
And it was nice to see a couple of A-League games this round that didn’t end up being foregone conclusions.
The top six looks fairly settled – although the Newcastle Jets might still make a late finals run – but on the basis of what we saw this weekend, there should still be some twists and turns remaining.