Melbourne Victory 1 Sydney FC 1
Melbourne Victory and Sydney FC cancelled each other out in a one-all draw at AAMI Park on Saturday night. Both sides would feel that they created enough chances to have won several games—Victory having more, but Sydney perhaps the better ones.
Victory’s Tom Rogic and the suspended Leigh Broxham did not make the squad, and Kevin Muscat plumped for experience with Adrian Leijer and Pablo Contreras paired in central defence, Adama Traore restored at left back with Mark Milligan, Gui Finkler and one youngster Jimmy Jeggo in midfield. James Troisi, Kosta Barbarouses and Archie Thompson formed the attack. Frank Farina also had his senior men on hand, with Sebastian Ryall, Matt Jurman, Sasa Ognenonvski and Nikola Petkovic forming a barrier at the back. Matt Thompson and Richard Garcia, two former Heart players, were in midfield with Alessandro del Piero.
Barbarouses made a dangerous break in the second minute but drove his low cross just too far ahead of Archie Thompson. It took Sydney 14 minutes to have its first shot on goal when Del Piero tested Lawrence Thomas from just outside the penalty area. At the other end, Thompson appeared to fall over the ball, but was awarded a free kick, and Finkler’s effort was headed clear by Ognenovski. Victory gave away a couple of free kicks in Del Piero territory but the marquee star could not take advantage of them. Barbarouses had a run at the Sydney defence but curled his shot just wide. Del Piero then appeared to block a clearance by Milligan by sticking his leg in and Victory skipper took some time to recover. Then just as it appeared the half would end with no further incident, Contreras was booked for a trip right on the edge of the box but Traore got his head in the way of Del Piero’s shot and saved his side. (At least that is what I deduced from the fact that Adama got up groggily on the goal-line as I looked through a narrow gap between the people who were standing up in front of me. When I later saw the television replays it appeared that Scott Galloway’s hand stopped the ball. We don’t get replays of controversial incidents in the outer, that is reserved for the Foxsports watchers in the press box. These days I observe games with my wife in the general admission area.)
The second half was only three minutes old when Sydney took the lead. Ali Abbas ran at a retreating defence and fired in a low shot which Thomas could only push into the path of Joel Chianese who had an easy finish. Victory then had an excellent spell but just could not score. Thompson put an inviting ball in front of Troisi but keeper Vedran Janjetovic sprinted out to save. Then Thompson made a good run and break, but Barbarouses was very slow to spot the opportunity and did not make position to receive the ball. Three players, Jeggo, Abbas and Chianese were booked in a six-minute spell, but while the crowd got exercised the game continued to be played at high tempo and Victory finally got on terms. Gui Finkler won the ball in the Sydney half and threaded it through to Troisi. The latter made a diagonal run and struck the ball across Janjetovic and in off the far post. Three minutes later Victory could have been in front when Jeggo’s shot from distance was parried away by the keeper towards Thompson whose cross in turn just eluded Troisi. At the other end, Del Piero’s miskick fell for Chianese but the latter’s shot went high over to the derision of the locals, but it was genuine opening for Sydney which should have been taken.
The match petered out in a draw which really suits neither team as Victory pursues a second top finish, while Sydney wants to bolster its place in top six. Victory’s last two games are away to Newcastle and Wellington, while Central Coast Mariners has a two-point buffer and Western Sydney Wanderers one. The crowd was 20,447 a comfortable attendance at AAMI but well down on some previous derbies.