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|A. L. Fondre||42'|
Sydney FC are reeling after being sucker-punched in last week’s derby, and will be eager to get back on the winner’s list against the Newcastle Jets in their Round 4 A-League clash at Leichhardt Oval on Friday evening, 7:30pm (AEST). Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match.
Last season’s champions went down 1-0 to the Western Sydney Wanderers in Round 3 in controversial circumstances, in a loss that perplexed pundits, players, supporters and stretched the limits of our geometric imagination.
Mitch Duke’s 19th-minute winner turned out to be enough to sink the Sky Blues, who were bitterly disappointed that Kostas Barbarouses’ 51st-minute header was not paid, when it appeared to the blue side of the stadium (and the Fox commentary box) to have crossed the goal line.
The result in the derby was a stark reminder for Steve Corica that this can be an unforgiving league. Despite having the best of open play and starting the season strongly with two straight wins, defensive errors are often the difference in these high-pressure games.
It was Paulo Retre’s error to allow Daniel Georgevski to win possession and cross for Duke to score that was the difference in Round 3.
Sydney FC had 20 shots to 10 in this game, including four on target (to two) but ultimately none of them that ‘officially’ crossed the line to claw back a result.
Newcastle, Sydney’s opponents in this game, will be looking to properly kick off their season after a spluttering start. They’ve had a draw, a bye and a Round 3 loss to Adelaide to start the year and now find themselves in ninth place.
Last week’s loss turned on a couple of pieces of magic from Adelaide’s Riley McGree, which was hugely symbolic of Newcastle’s lot in this league.
Despite having more shots than the Reds (18 to 12) and twice as many on target (eight to four), they are generally a team of doers with a lot demanded from a couple of creative sparks, like Dimi Petratos.
Manager Ernie Merrick will be pleased that Panamanian import Abdiel Arroyo got on the scoresheet against Adelaide, but the pre-season loss of Wes Hoolahan through injury has left Newcastle’s plans a little threadbare.
Against well-balanced teams with multiple forward options – like Sydney – Newcastle will find shootouts tricky to win.
This game could see the return of Trent Buhagiar for Sydney after a season-ending ACL. The Olyroo – who is reportedly quicker over 20m than Usain Bolt – will be itching to get back onto the park (presumably off the bench) to offer yet another weapon for Steve Corica.
With an AFC U23s tournament and Olympics around the corner, he will definitely be one to watch out for this season.
Sydney should find the going a little easier this week, and have enough mettle for a thin Newcastle side. Newcastle are a well-drilled side but their lack of pace in the back four and centre of midfield could be exposed by the runs of Adam LeFondre and Barbarouses, and the trickery of Milos Ninkovic et al.
Sydney FC 2 – Newcastle Jets 0