In what was practically a dead rubber for Melbourne Victory,a good result would only put us a few points ahead of Adelaide on the table for the run into the finals. Injury has taken its toll on Victory all season and this week was no different with Flores and Traore out (as well as Finkler and Ansell) and with Captain Adrian Leijer out through suspension, it was always going to be an uphill battle for my beloved boys in fluoro.
The game started out with both teams playing rather well on a somewhat dry but half decent pitch compared to the swamp we played on last week (yes, I’m still going on about it). Victory were attacking from the get go and it didn’t take long, for it t’was in only the 4th minute when Connor Pain put a lovely ball across to Mark Milligan who confidently put the ball into ye olde onion bag to put Melbourne ahead 1-0.
For the rest of the opening 10 minutes Victory continued to play some impressive football playing lots of short, sharp passes and the few times Sydney did manage to get possession, Victory had no problems winning it back.
It didn’t take long for Sydney to revert to the plans they implemented earlier in the year of ‘give the ball to ADP and hope’ but with Victory hero Leigh Broxham to shutting him down again, they really needed to look for a plan B.
In the 15th minute, a rare occurrence in the A League happened, Coe picked up a yellow for handling the ball outside the box and things looked a bit shaky for Victory as ADP lined up to take the free kick on the edge of the area. As ADP fired wide and Coe unclenched, we all breathed a sigh of relief.
It took almost half an hour for Sydney to get their first yellow of the game as Ali Abbas was booked for throwing the ball away after Archie was unfairly brought down by Antonis and not long after, Sebastian ‘lucky 13’ Ryall was also booked for a very ordinary tackle on Mark Milligan.
The yellow cards started to flow soon after as Billy Celeski was booked for a tackle on Abbas and picked up an accidental stray boot to the head for his troubles as Victory briefly went down to 10 men. Victory finally got some love from the referees when a handball by Broxham was missed in the box and as ADP was complaining about it (which is so unlike him…), his team mates that were still playing the game gave possession back to Victory.
Sebastian Ryall was staying true to form and was lucky not to pick up his 2nd yellow for attacking young Connor Pain. Sydney must have read my tweet about beating Victory by playing like thugs because the discipline that they were talking about midweek was more akin to MMA-League.
The 2nd half yet again started while I was out recuperating but I returned to see ADP fire another free kick into the wall and then more trademark complaining which is so out of character for him… The favouritism that he is shown from the referees is pretty pathetic as evident in the foul Broxham picked up in a 50/50 challenge for a high boot on ADP’s ankle. I’m no doctor (although I will perform operations from home, no questions asked… I guess that makes me more of a “surgeon”), but I’m pretty sure that both their boots and ankles had to be high for that to happen, but I digress… again.
Thuggery, skulduggery and complaining seemed to feature heavily in Sydney’s 2nd half as the pace, youth and skill of Victory was just too much for Sydney to handle. ADP continued his form against Victory when Old King Coe, Nate Dogg, Nathan Coe easily saved his penalty which was awarded for a handball in the box.
Speaking of penalties, Connor Pain was robbed of one a few minutes later as he was brought down in the box by the Sydney keeper but to no avail. Something else which came to no avail was ADP’s 5th set shot which was straight into Old King Coe as Sydney still seemed to be in ‘give the ball to ADP and hope’ mode.
In the 75th minute, Marco Rojas had an opportunity to put the game to bed after a beautiful ball from Connor Pain but his shot went wide and almost made Ange (and me) cry. Just 2 minutes later, Kiwi Messi had another opportunity to score but fired straight into Sydney’s keeper. He had a pretty average game to be honest so maybe he is the Kiwi ADP or ADP is the Italian Rojas or Messi is the- ok I’ll stop now.
Victory finally took the foot off the pedal in the 84th minute as Ange brought on Diogo Ferreira for Archie Thompson in a move to sure up Victories defence which didn’t end too well. As Sydney took their 15th corner of the match they finally equalised through Yau.
Sydney looked threatening after their goal but Victory were up to the challenge and ended up with the draw in a game that both teams will feel they should have won. Poor finishing from both teams and some sloppy work all round made for an entertaining but somewhat messy game which I’m pretty glad is over.
Votes: 3 – Coe, 2 – Pain, 1 – Broxham