Slender margins

Sydney FC started brightly in this Tuesday night fixture at Kogarah. Of course, I missed it as I was circling Kogarah looking for a car spot after trying to fit too many football events into one day. The final 70 minutes of the game that I saw were very similar to previous encounters against lower opposition, and it was never safe at 1-0.

So, with the streets around Kogarah full of bins on bin night, parking was at a premium, and I ended up on the St George Leagues Club side of the road and jagged a spot and jogged over to the stadium. I’ve been late to games before. Once I got a bit lost near Paddington and ended up with a massive long walk to the the SFS which left me shaking my head. I arrived into the second half of West Ham vs Newcastle after we misjudged the time it took to cross London on the tube, caught the last 40 minutes of Charlton vs the Toon after the bus driver got lost, and missed the first half hour at Ipswich when the Mags were battling relegation to the third tier after the official bus broke down just off the A1. Even this season at Macarthur the extended walk from the club to the away turnstile saw us arrive just as the game kicked off. It’s something I don’t like doing, but this one was intentional so I could be there at Andy Bernal’s book launch in Glebe, so not by accident.

The scoreboard operator was taking the piss when I walked in, Sydney already 10 goals up according to the scoreline, and for all I knew it could have been. Having said that, the eerily quiet streets around the stadium with no roar coming from inside didn’t suggest a cricket score was in progress. That was the type of score that had been predicted pre-game. Of course it was only one, Bobo having notched a fine header at the far post from a Luke Brattan cross.

I made my way around from the gate as Sydney were attacking and grabbed one of those smashing 4 Pines beers – I would have had food too, but there was one person serving and the guy at the front of the queue was ordering for twenty. Armed only with beer, I found the posse, Michelle, Michael, Steve, Chris and young Rory, fresh from another massive moment walking on the field with Alex Baumjohann. We were to the right of the Cove, Sydney were on the attack up the far end, Kosta Barbarouses was making a nuisance of himself, but Sydney were in the usual mode of shot-shy attack and over-complicated approach play.

The second half was much better, Kosta missed a gilt-edged chance on the run as Baumjohann slipped him through at pace. Once again he found the goalkeeper with the shot and it even bounced back off him to prevent a corner. The visitors were on the attack too, a good move ended with a thumping header hitting the outside of Andrew Redmayne’s post to set the nerves jangling. Victory’s Jay Barnett, his hair getting more and more the wet look as the evening wore on, was having a good game and there were more good positions for the visitors. Sydney seemed to up the pressure a little, and we had a marvellous chance when McGowan stooped to power in a header which the Melbourne keeper tipped over. Kosta had a harder chance than the one he fluffed and the keeper again tipped it over, and then Milos Ninkovic had a speculator through a crowd of players that was well saved.

The Cove were in good voice throughout, but the team never really sparked, especially when Baumjohann was again hauled off despite bossing the midfield. Saving him for a spicy Saturday perhaps. Substitute Ninkovic showed us why he is the best ever A-League player with some dazzling play down the Sydney left, but the Sky Blues just couldn’t get the space for the killer shot.

In the end it was a mooted response to the final whistle, and we had the points in the bag, however unconvincingly. That propelled us right up the table, but having played a couple more than table toppers City. Victory had given us a game, and they were definitely not displaying the form that sent them to the bottom of the table earlier in the year.

At least the players came and cheered the home end at the end as the Western Sydney chants started.

It was interesting to see Steve Corica being interviewed after the game, and seeing a healthy ten second delay between what we were seeing and what was streaming on Kayo. He didn’t look overly happy. There was no hanging around waiting to greet the players, and we were back in the North Western suburbs of Sydney near 10:30pm with no traffic whatsoever.

Attention turns now to Saturday and plans of a march to Bankwest, although it’s going to clash with Putney Rangers v West Ryde Rovers in the Over 35s division 3. I’ll be at the game on time though, that is for sure.

And so, a couple of photos to finish with – firstly Andy Bernal in conversation with Craig Foster. I was keen to be there to hear some stories from the author himself, and it was sure entertaining. He’s a man with a story to tell and he’s gone and done it. Christine was there too, lamenting the rescheduling of the A-League game she was just about to miss, but also enjoying the punchy delivery from Mr Bernal. And then there’s the mighty Mount St Benedicts Intermediary team, who played fabulous football in their annual football tournament until I got there to support them, scraped through a semi-final and were then pipped 1-0 in the final. Great opportunity for Aurelia, and with training scheduled for Tuesday night, she would again miss out on seeing the Sky Blues at home thanks to the rescheduling. A great footballing day, and thankfully three points for Sydney FC.

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