Friday, February 08, 2008

Sydney's defensive Shield cracks

Minor semi final second leg, QR 2 v SFC 0 (2-0 on aggregate)

OVER the next couple of days, much is likely to be made by Australia's largest city of the refereeing performance of Queenslander Mark Shield in tonight's second leg of the minor semi.

But in truth, Sydney FC can have few complaints, and the credit should instead go to Frank Farina and his men, who deservedly go through to a preliminary final, likely to be against the Mariners.

For much of the second half of the season FC have been the beneficiary of a number of borderline decisions, both on an off the field, which had helped propel them all the way into the semis.

Even a fortnight ago, after a controversial game in which Queensland's young wingers, Zullo and Kruse, were battered by the Sydney defence, Ian Fyfe was fortunate not to have a case to answer for an off the ball hit on Zullo.

Farina was right to feel dismayed about the lack of action from the Sydney-based FFA given how much he and his players had come under scrutiny this season.

John Kosmina, having secured himself an extended contract, labelled Farina a 'whinger' only a week or so after whinging about his players having to go off to a Pim Verbeek training camp.

Farina then reminded the FFA about their pre-season directive to managers about criticising their fellow managers, but still no action was taken against Sydney or its manager.

Perhaps it was all theatre, designed to build and sustain interest, but the muted response only fuelled the belief of those concerned about a conflict of interest.

Little doubt these double-standards, perceived or justified, were used by Farina to fire up his men, for they started tonight's delayed match in the mood to make a statement.

Static in the front third a fortnight ago, here the three men behind Reinaldo were full of movement, proving far too mobile for the slow Sydney midfield and defence. Zullo and Kruse, shackled in Sydney, dropped off and ran away from their markers, while Sydney's central midfield struggled to get anywhere near Marcinho, who was finding space between the two lines.

Of course, behind the front four were the irresistible M&Ms, McKay and Murdocca, who seized on everything loose and controlled the game's tempo.

By the time Reinaldo sublimely rounded a static Milligan and sent the 36,000 potty, the Roar was on top.

The controversy had started a few minutes before the opening goal, FC claiming a penalty for a 'handball' by old-boy Andy Packer. Robbie Slater was adamant he'd handled it, ignoring the push from Alex Brosque.

Then came the game's pivotal moment. Bursting out of midfield, McKay was cleaned up by Middleby. While he was angling slightly away from goal, McKay had the momentum and the nearest defender, Milligan, was some distance away. It could have gone either way, but Shield ruled in the Roar's favour and FC's job became harder, despite needing only an equaliser to go through.

There was a period early in the second half when it looked likely, the Roar, almost typically, struggling to handle the pressure. But then the experience kicked in. Despite a couple of moments, Moore remained calm at the back and McKay started to get his foot on the ball again, stroking it around from left to right, then right to left, then backwards, then square. Murdocca followed suite and the control was back.

In Minniecon, Farina had the only trump card on either bench and it was the speedster who went on an electric run down the right after skinning Zadkovich on the halfway line. Soon he was driving at a retreating Popovic, and while the chance looked to have gone, Popovic unnecessarily thrust out his arms.

The contact was soft, but it was contact, and the off-balance featherweight went down. Sydney's skipper was ropable, earning himself a card as Ognenovski thrashed his spot-kick straight down the guts.

Fortunately spot-kicks had been averted, and after far too many cagey affairs between these two sides this season, it was congratulations to the Roar for taking the initiative and marching on.


Blogger Jeccy - for the Roar said...

Nice wrap up of events. Unfortunetly, couldn't make the game myself and was relying on the roar website to fill in what my family missed out. Sadly, that was not the case. My brother said Reinaldos goal was comparable with a premier league goal?? Opinions?

Sat. Feb. 09, 11:23:00 am AEDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Tony -- good match report. But I want more analysis. That's why I come to the site


Sat. Feb. 09, 02:02:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger john said...

Thanks for the post Tony.

Reinaldo's goal could be the best of the season - got the ball before half way - fooled Milligan and Talay - maybe not Bolton's best keeping. But yes EPL stuff.

Sat. Feb. 09, 03:00:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger pippinu said...

Reinaldo has nailed a few quality goals this season, in amongst some comical attempts. Nevertheless, you'd have to say that he has done the job for Frank all season as a lone striker and this has allowed Frank the luxury of playing with a fairly dense midfield that has absolutely strangled every bit of breath out of most teams (as it managed to do again last night) with lightning quick wingers providing the perfect release valve.

Reinaldo's goal was a big goal for a big occasion - even if the Sydney defence was made to look pedestrian (in fact, this sort of vulnerability has existed all season, and I agree that Sydney have had a few things go their way to finish in the top 4).

Poppa will probably look back and think that he didn't have to do what he did, considering Minniecon had virtually lost control of the ball. It was a poor effort for such an experienced defender.

Having said that, considering how much the refs have let go all season, one could be excused for thinking that Shield was applying ACL standards rather than than year's A-League standards (in awarding the penalty).

I agree that Marcinho probably played his best game of the season.

With the return of Tiatto (should he make it into the starting XI to stiffen the Roar's strangulation capabilities even further), I can't help thinking that Frank has the right balance and game plan to go all the way.

The scoreline is likely to replicate that of the first season, rather than last season's grand final (wasn't it great to see a half hour of highlights before last night's final? sigh...).

Sat. Feb. 09, 03:19:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

Certainly the best individual goal john, it was just brilliant, although milligan helped him by slowing down and trying to dive in....momentarily forgot the kids were asleep and started celebrating as if i was at the game...

whether it was the best goal? well, you know me, i love the fluent team goals that involve plenty of passing and the carving up of an opposition, just like bridge's against wellington a few of weeks ago...

Congrats buddy, enjoy the week and good luck to your team...let me know if you come down...

Jeccy, thanks for the comment and congrats to you doubt about it, goal was world class, although the defending left a bit to be desired...

FL, thanks for visiting and sorry for the lack of analysis...if you didnt see it, wasnt the greatsest game, but qld were the better side, before and after the send of...syd were very conservative and their manager should spend less time talking junk in the press....if you were impressed by renaud a fortnight ago, you certainly wouldnt have been last night....he wasnt on his own though..

Sat. Feb. 09, 03:31:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger The Round Ball Analyst said...

pippinu, thanks for your thoughts...

agree with your sentiments re poppa's challenge and shhield's interpreation of that a player, youre probably shaking your head think, "f@#$, but i've been getting away with that sort of challenge all season"....

it doesnt make the player right, but it certainly makes him confused.

whether qld can go on with it i'm not so sure...yep, their buzzers in central mid suffocate the life out of teams, but there were a few signs early in the second half the roar werent handling the pressure...i thought moore and mckay were the keys at that stage, stepping on the ball and remembering farinas words about controlling possession = controlling the game...

watching van egmond or mckinna try to deal with The Matt and Mass Show will make for fascinating viewing.

Sat. Feb. 09, 03:46:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger Mike Salter said...

...if you were impressed by renaud a fortnight ago, you certainly wouldnt have been last night....he wasnt on his own though...

That's for sure and certain.

Among the SFC players who should be taking a look in the mirror after last night, I would count Renaud, Poppa, Talay, and Millsy and Brosque up to a point. Zad was his usual semi-effective self, but at least he tried.

Sat. Feb. 09, 05:28:00 pm AEDT  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I heard a bit of Kosmina's press conference earlier and he said "we were playing against 12 men - the Queensland crowd were very good".

What a tool.


Sat. Feb. 09, 10:53:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger john said...

Brosque was out of control. He had said in the Courier Mail he was disappointed that McMaster wasn't playing because he wanted revenge for McMaster being quoted as saying he knew what Brosque was going to do.

Kozzie new Brosque was in trouble. It was amazing he didn't catch Shield's ire.

Sun. Feb. 10, 01:51:00 pm AEDT  
Blogger john said...

'momentarily forgot the kids were asleep and started celebrating as if i was at the game...'

After the penalty I was prepared to say..

'I could watch another 20 mins of this.'

Unfortunately I don't think I can make the trip.

Sun. Feb. 10, 01:53:00 pm AEDT  

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