- Written by Walter Pless
- Published: 30 September 2014
Photo: Melbourne Victory's Daniel Georgievski (right) shields the ball from Sydney FC's Sebastian Ryall [PlessPix]
(A-League Pre-season Friendly, North Hobart Oval, Sunday, 28 September 2014)
Melbourne Victory 1 (Fahid Ben Khalfallah 90)
Sydney FC 1 (Marc Janko 21)
HT: 0-1 Att: 6,920 Ref: S Evans
Melbourne Victory: Coe - Geria, Delpierre, Leijer, Georgievski - Milligan, Valeri, Finkler - Thompson, Berisha, Pain (Subs: Broxham, Barbarouses, Nabbout, Ben Khalfallah, Thomas, Makarounas)
Sydney FC: Necevski - Ryall, Calver, Jurman, Gersbach - Burgess, Antonis, Dimitrijevic, Carle - Smeltz, Janko (Subs: Triantis, Janjetovic, Timotheou, Antoniou, Muata-Marlow)
Photo: Melbourne Victory's Adrian Leijer slides in to clear from Sydney FC's Nick Carle [PlessPix]
A last-minute equaliser gave Melbourne Victory a 1-1 draw with Sydney FC in this pre-season A-League friendly at North Hobart Oval on Sunday.
Both defences reigned supreme for most of the match, with Sydney’s Matthew Jurman and Aaron Calver, and Victory’s Adrian Leijer and Matthieu Delpierre, displaying cool heads, skill and perfect positioning. It was ironic, therefore, that errors by Leijer and Jurman ultimately led to the goals.
Both teams tried to keep possession at all costs and persisted in passing the ball square from one side to the other at the back as they probed for openings, which rarely came. The midfield battle was tight, but there was little penetration into the attacking third. This stultifying scenario would have done little to win new fans to the game.
Photo: Marc Janko (right) is thwarted by Victory's Matthieu Delpierre [PlessPix]
Austrian captain Marc Janko gave Sydney FC the lead in the 21st minute, firing home from close range after a splendid build-up by Sydney through midfield and a final low cross from the left by Alex Gersbach, who had been put away by Nick Carle. Adrian Leijer made a hash of dealing with the cross and Janko finished clinically.
Victory made several changes at half-time and during the second half to give all players, except the reserve keeper, who had played in the curtain-raiser, a run.
They should have equalised in the 63rd minute when the pacy Kosta Barbarousas broke free down the right and crossed low to Berisha, but the striker had his close-range shot brilliantly blocked by Ivan Necevski.
In the last minute, Victory did manage an equaliser when Matthew Jurman slipped and allowed substitute Fahid Ben Khalfallah to break through and round the keeper before slotting home.
Victory coach Kevin Muscat was honest in his post-match appraisal, admitting that it had been a disappointing spectacle for the fans, while Sydney coach Graham Arnold emphasised the fact that his side were without eight regular starters after they pulled up sore from their FFA Cup game on an artificial pitch the previous week.
Photo: Victory's Besart Berisha is shown the yellow card after fouling Sydney's terry Antonis [PlessPix]
Melbourne Victory coach, Kevin Muscat, said:
“I was just a little bit disappointed. Performances were relatively flat considering what we were expecting. I take full responsibility and the onus for playing good football and coming across here it’s a shame we didn’t put on a better spectacle for the fans that turned out. It was a wonderful turnout and it’s unfortunate we didn’t put on a better performance.
“I take full responsibility for trying to put on a spectacle and I don’t think that was the case today, from both teams. It’s not my responsibility for what they’re trying to do.
“We tried to play an exciting brand of football, but we didn’t do that today. We fell very well short. In terms of the way we pressed, yes, it was disappointing, without doubt, especially in the first half. Structurally, without the ball, it was nowhere near good enough. I felt we were a yard off the pace for whatever reason. Not picking up good positions where we could threaten, and then we gifted them a goal.
“After that, second half, we made a lot of changes and credit to the boys who came on. We put them under a lot of pressure second half. I thought we had two or three really good chances.
“It became an arm wrestle and, unfortunately, the game fell into a lull where it wasn’t great football. It certainly wasn’t what I want from my football team. It was hard to break down the two banks of four, but it was down to us to find solutions. All disappointing, but it was another learning experience for us.”
Photo: Sydney FC's Nick Carle (right) takes on Melbourne Victory's Besart Berisha [PlessPix]
Sydney FC coach, Graham Arnold, said:
“I thought it was a fantastic effort from our boys. We left eight of our starting players back in Sydney. Today showed me we’ve got a lot of good depth and for 80 minutes we weren’t in too much trouble at all. The wind made it a little bit more difficult but, overall, especially when they put out their best team in the first half, I thought we played exceptionally.
“What I want is competition for places and that’s building because some of the young boys are coming through very well. Youngsters coming through like that create depth.
“Overall, it’s a friendly game, it’s pre-season, our last hit-out. We’ve had a very good pre-season, no injuries. As I said, we’ve got eight fit players at home ready to join us again on Monday.
“I don’t look at the result. I look at performance and the progression from when I first arrived at the club to now and the progression has been substantial.”
Photo: Victory's Adrian Leijer and Sydney's Shame Smeltz vie for a header against a backdrop of fans in the main stand at North Hobart Oval [PlessPix]
Melbourne Victory 10
Sydney FC 6
Shots on target
Melbourne Victory 8
Sydney FC 3
Melbourne Victory 2
Sydney FC 8
Melbourne Victory 19
Sydney FC 15
Melbourne Victory 1
Sydney FC 4
Melbourne Victory 4 (Georgievski 24, Berisha 44, Geria 81, Leijer 92)
Sydney FC 2 (Ryall 24, Carle 51)
Photo: Victory's Jason Geria tackles Sydney's Nick Carle [PlessPix]