Saturday, January 27, 2007

Status quo as Godriguez rescues the Jets

Minor Semi final first leg analysis, Sydney FC 2 v Newcastle Jets 1

A WONDERFUL contest, full of cut and thrust and tactical intrigue was played out at Aussie Stadium last night and at the end of it, much of what happened was what we have come to expect whenever these sides have crossed paths this season.

Indeed, it was a contest largely in keeping with what we have seen from both sides this season.

Sydney, as has been their way in all the crunch contests, started well, very well in fact. At the end though they were hanging on, more through guts and determination than anything convincing.

Newcastle, who have given up so many leads throughout the season, did it again, starting slowly and succumbing to the high-tempo physical pressing of their southern rivals.

After adpoting a 3-5-2 last week in Queensland last week, Sydney reverted back to the 4-5-1 we have seen for much of the season. But there was a little twist in it from Butcher.

Instead of deploying Carney wide, the blond was doing most of his work through the centre of midfield. It did two thing, allowing Zadkovich the freedom to get forward when he chose, but more importantly and decisively, it crowded out the Newcastle midfield trio of Carle, Musalik and Brown.

It was a case of Sydney overloading the midfield (four on three) and Newcastle being overworked.

It was the exact same tactic adpoted so successfully in Sydney's 2-0 win up at Newcastle on New Years day, and it worked a treat for the defending champions on both ocassions.

With McFlynn hot on Carle's case, suddenly Musalik and Brown had to deal not only with Milligan and Corica, but the extra body of Carney.

Corica and Brosque were finding far too much space and Newcatle's backline was pulled hopelessly out of shape trying to number up.

At the other end, Sydney were in total control, three of its four defenders numbering up on the Newcastle front three, allowing one to cover. With Carle bottled up and Musalik and Brown busy deciding who to pick up, Sydney were calling all the shots.

Times likes these call for decisiveness from your goalkeeper, but when Covic hesitated to deal with a Topor-Stanley cross header, the Jets were punished. Newcastle were rocking, furthermore when North was pulled out of the middle by Brosque shortly before the half-hour mark.

Suddenly Corica had the ball at his feet and North was out of position. Corica, ever the craftsmen, saw the space in the middle, saw the run from deep of Milligan and dished up a delightfully weighted cross, between Okon and Eagleton, into the space North was meant to cover.

It was almost an exact replica of the Talay delivery to Zdrilic that had killed Newcastle in the corresponding New Years day clash.

Superb stuff from Sydney.

For once they'd consolidated a 1-0 lead with a second, but could they go on grab a telling third? Sit back now and it would only invite the Jets forward, and a valueable away goal might be the result.

In truth Sydney's hands were somewhat tied by the forced substitution of McFlynn at the break. Sydney had to adjust, and with no noted central midfielder on the bench, Milligan was moved into the holding role, onto Carle, Petrovski brought on up front.

While his hands were tied by a lack of personnel, to some degree Butcher had surrendered his domination of the midfield.

Sydney had a couple of bites early in the second, Corica and Petrovski getting in behind the Newcastle right, wasting chances to almost kill off the tie. Would they be made to pay?

Just short of the hour, van Egmond's wildcard was introduced. 'Milton Godriguez' the banner said, and so it proved. Clearly in the mood and trying to rekindle his love affair with the ground he had made such a brilliant debut at, he was soon combining with Carle, little pass after pass, trying to unlock the defiant Sydney rearguard.

When you have feet this quick, it's inevitable a chance or two will be created. Soon he was firing across Bolton without success.

Then, in the blink of an eye, the Jets had their lifeline. A ball knocked to the edge of a crowded Sydney box by Carle looked like it would be comfortable for Sydney. Surely they had the numbers?

But alas, Godriguez had other ideas, stepping inside Fyfe and flashing and left foot rocket past a bemused Bolton. It was a sublime bit of execution, the work of the sharpest pick-pocket, feet so quick you just about missed the action.

Earlier in the night we had witnessed a jet, part of the Australia Day festivities, roar overhead. Surely it had dropped off Rodriguez, for his shot was just as loud.

Now it was the Jets asking all the questions, and Sydney, as has become their characteristic under Butcher, hanging on for dear life.

Only three shots from the hosts in the second period, all early, summed up the flow of the final half hour.

Rodriguez's goal was one that breathes life back into the reverse tie next Friday. Sydney will feel they have a slight advantage, especially if they can get one early, as has been their way.

It would mean that Newcastle would need to score two simply to take it into extra time, and Sydney would feel confident knowing it hasn't conceeded two goals in its past 13 games, since its October 21 2-1 loss to Melbourne in round nine. A remarkable record, one the manager would be proud of.

The Jets, meanwhile, have kept clean sheets in their past two home games and may need to do it again to carry on. It's all fascinating stuff.


Anonymous watt said...

"It's all fascinating stuff."

Fascinating stuff but an alarmingly low attendance to the game.

I don't know what exactly is going on over there but if the crowds are that low in the finals after being champions last year I don't want to think what will happen if you get a bad year on the ground Like Perth.

In all likelihood the Jets will bring as many fans or more next week as Sydney did, surely that must be a concern for SFC.

Sun. Jan. 28, 12:35:00 am AEDT  
Anonymous frank f said...

Sydney were (very) poor in the 2nd half. I suppose the gulf in form was more evident because of a brilliant first half. I thought the formation at the start was more 4-2-3-1 with milligan and mcflynn hanging back to screen the back four.
Brosque was superb. The runs in attack and the workrate in defence, in closing down the jets back four, caused plenty of concern for newcatle.
The crowd was disappointing considering the public holiday. Sydney needs to get another marquee player next year if it wants to stop the slide in attendance.

Mon. Jan. 29, 09:23:00 am AEDT  

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