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Steve Corica’s post-match interview on Saturday night was hilarious. He had me laughing.
Not only does he want to coach Sydney FC, he wants to referee the game, too.
Adam Le Fondre’s goal was disallowed after a VAR decision. Patrick Wood was offside, Jordan Elsey did not play at the ball, that was the verdict.
Coaches can complain, but haven’t Sydney had the rub of the green more often than not? Kleenex would be a great shirt collar sponsor for the championship-winning coach. Any more decisions that don’t go Sydney FC’s way, and he might just need a few tissues to stifle the sobbing.
Minutes earlier, a Valentino Yuel rocket bulged the roof of the Sydney net to bring the Newcastle Jets back level in a game that should have fans of both teams excited.
Sydney FC have finally discovered their shooting – or should that be scoring? – boots. They are beginning to look like the Sydney of recent seasons. The one surprising thing, though, is that they haven’t yet replaced central midfielder Luke Brattan.
Some fans, harshly I believe, have criticised Newcastle’s goalkeeper Jack Duncan for bringing down Sydney striker Le Fondre.
The error was really a few seconds before. Matt Jurman’s ball to Angus Thurgate was not the pass to play. When Gus didn’t quite get to that pass, maybe a cynical foul from him was warranted. A free-kick ten metres outside the box would have been more favourable than a penalty.
All easy from in front of the TV, though. Le Fondre is good at exploiting these moments and this I doubt will be the last penalty that he wins this season.
Reviewing the second goal Newcastle conceded, Jurman may have been wary of giving the ex-Reading man another chance to win a penalty. He briefly had hold of the Sydney forward’s shirt. He obviously thought better of that, letting go, but not staying close enough. Le Fondre turned, passed and the diminutive Elvis Kamsoba nipped in to score way too easily.
The second half thrilling. Newcastle deservedly got on the scoresheet with Yuel lifting the ball high and quick enough past Sydney keeper Andrew Redmayne; Brazilian Daniel Penha again influential with a well-weighted pass to the fleet-footed Yuel.
Arthur Papas’s post-match interview was insightful and inspiring. He rightly focused on the Newcastle comeback. With a calm persona he spoke glowingly about Yuel and his team in general.
He also was at pains to say, “We need to change the identity of this team, this club. To do that we need to be braver.”
He mentioned that he didn’t think there were too many teams that had got back into games against Sydney after being 2-0 down. I checked, and Papas is right. The last time it happened was 2016.
In fact, Sydney have only squandered 2-0 leads on six previous occasions and only once to Newcastle. That was way back in season 2 of the A-League when Steve Corica scored one of the Sky Blues’ two goals. Colombian debutante Milton Rodriguez came off the bench to fire home two goals and enter Newcastle footballing folklore. Five minutes after the equaliser, Corica was red carded.
Newcastle are building and improving week by week. The vibe around this team and coach Papas is starting to feel special – a strange feeling, considering Newcastle are yet to register an A-League win. After a home F3 Derby and two Sydney away fixtures, the Wellington Phoenix home game looks like a three-pointer for the Novocastrians.
Beware the wounded Kiwi though. Phoenix may have lost players, most notably Tomer Hemed to WSW and Ulises Dávila to Macarthur, but they will still be a hard nut to crack. Well-drilled, organised and smarting from their 2-0 loss to WSW, this upcoming Friday night fixture at Turton Road Stadium will be a tough game for the Jets.
It is very early in the season but this Newcastle side is very much looking like a team that fears no opponent.
Fortune favours the brave. Continue to be brave, Newcastle Jets.