Thursday, 20 September 2018

MATCH REVIEW: Avondale 2-4 Sydney FC A.E.T. (FFA Cup)

Sydney scraped past Avondale in a thrilling encounter on Wednesday night, with a resilient Avondale giving the Sky Blues a real run for their money.

Trent Buhagiar gave Sydney the lead on 17 minutes, tapping in a cross from Adam Le Fondre, who skinned his defender and played the perfect ball across.

12 minutes later, the speedy youngster doubled the lead of the Sky Blues, with a terrific low finish under the keeper after being played in by Le Fondre yet again.

Sydney went into half-time with a 2-0 lead over the NPL Victoria outfit, but that wouldn't last long.

Boland pulled a goal back for the "Avengers" after capitalising on a mistake in defence from Brandon O'Neill.

And minutes later, that man again came to haunt Sydney FC. An in-swinging corner wasn't dealt with properly by Sydney custodian Redmayne (who looked to have been fouled in the process) and Boland passed the ball into an empty net.

The game would need extra time to decide the winner from there - with a mistake filled  Sydney FC side struggling against a strong Avondale team.

Thankfully for the Sky Blues, Milos Ninkovic was played through by Chris Zuvela. The Serbian made no mistake as he passed his shot into the near post to give the Premiers the lead again.

Le Fondre then sealed the deal, with a clean finish into the bottom corner after a ball over the top from Josh Brilliante.

Sydney were made to work very hard for this win, but in truth it shouldn't be too upsetting to any Sydney supporters. This is a team that is still gelling.

But what else did we learn from the FFA Cup Quarter Final?

1) Le Fondre is the goods

I was reminded heavily of Bobo's starting debut for Sydney FC against Blacktown City when watching "Alfie". Two very good assists and a nice goal to top off a strong performance from the Englishman. He is clearly settling in quite well already, but has stuff he needs to improve on with the players around him. More time with Buhagiar and you can see them becoming quite a dynamic duo up front.

2) The kids are alright

Buhagiar was very useful up front, with his pace causing problems for Avondale in the first half. They couldn't get near him half the time. His replacement, Charles Lokoli-Ngoy I feel put in a good shift and was part of the tide turning back in Sydney's favour. The classic big man / little man striking combo worked well between Alfie and Charles. I think he needs to start these matches however - it's much easier to get into the groove of a game from starting than coming off the bench when your side's just blown a 2-0 lead. Zuvela also came on in Extra Time for an injured Zullo, and looked very good in the midfield. His assist was a good sign of his ability, with him constantly looking for the right through ball. 

3) Lack of shape

The back four were rarely on the same wavelength with each other in the second half - to me this is indicative of structure not quite put in place yet. Dutchman Jop van der Linden looked very average and constantly made the wrong passes back to his goalkeeper, putting a lot of pressure on Redmayne to clear the ball into touch. Wilkinson and Jop in my opinion are to blame for the second goal. Redmayne made a hash of a clearance with his fists, but what are his two centrebacks doing? Watching Avondale's Boland pass the ball into the net. Zullo was constantly found out by the right wingers of Avondale, playing yet another poor game for Sydney in the FFA Cup. Rhyan Grant was solid, but that's as good as the back four got.

4) Take it easy, lads. 

This is more directed at Sydney supporters, this final point. Go easy on our lads on social media. They didn't play up to their normal standards but that doesn't mean we're turning into a Sunday league team or that we're rubbish. There are certain people on twitter who consistently abuse our goalkeeper, and there are also people who consistently abuse our young players. How do you expect them to improve or feel like they're improving when they're getting told they are rubbish? Both of our Dutchmen (De Jong and Jop) have been getting quite harsh criticism too. We were spoilt by how fast Adrian fit into the club and the system last year. It is rare players have debuts as strong as Adrian did last year against Melbourne City. 

Full player ratings

We have a month until the season starts, and that's a long time in football. We've got at least another FFA Cup match before then, and that is a lot of time for all the players to gel. 

FINAL SCORE: Sydney FC (4) def. Avondale (2) A.E.T.
MOTM: Adam Le Fondre

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

How will Sydney FC line-up ahead of the new season?

In a month and 8 days, Sydney FC will play Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium in the first game of the season. But how will they line up? 4-4-2 or 4-2-3-1?

Class of 18/19


The #1 spot is surely Redmayne's, with continuously solid performances and 12 clean sheets last campaign in the league. Cisak is a strong backup to have, with experience in the English leagues.


Rhyan Grant returns from a long period on the sidelines, with him being the first choice right back for the upcoming season. Paulo Retre, Aaron Calver, and Joshua Brilliante have all played RB in the past and are solid choices for backup if needed. 


Sydney FC have good options at the centre-half position. Whilst Wilkinson and Jop van der Linden will be first choice, Ben Warland and Aaron Calver are both talented at CB and have A-League and Asian Champions League experience each.


Michael Zullo is almost definitely the starting LB. The 30 year old has been a revelation at Sydney since arriving in 2016. Youngster Joel King will be the 3rd choice LB behind Ben Warland who has played LB for Sydney during preseason and the Asian Champions League

Youngster Chris Zuvela will be aiming for gametime


Joshua Brilliante and Brandon O'Neill have formed a formidable partnership since the duo starting lining up together in 2016. Chris Zuvela and Ryan Teague will play back-up roles, whilst Paulo Retre has been seen to play at defensive midfield under Graham Arnold. Utility man Rhyan Grant can too be expected to be put in this position too.


Danny De Silva will be playing in a bit of the Mierzejewski role in the wing. Despite not being a natural winger, his playmaker abilities work well in the setup. Trent Buhagiar as the impact sub, with his blistering pace a major tool for Corica to utilise. Cameron Devlin is another choice as right wing.


It's yet to be seen if Sydney are going to be running a traditional attacking midfielder or more of a second striker role. Siem de Jong will be the starter in this position, but his tactical role is yet to be seen just yet. Captain Alex Brosque will be doing the "Simon" role of last year, coming on to terrorise tired defenders. Academy graduate Jerry Skotadis as third choice.


Serbian Milos Ninkovic has been played as a left winger under Corica during the pre-season, and I can't see that changing much. Alex Brosque can too play as a left winger, and young Marco Tilio is a natural left winger.


Englishman Adam le Fondre is much more of a poacher than a target man, differing him significantly from BobĂ´. At 177cm I feel this means a lot of more of the goals scored this season will be from short passing football, with the ball being worked into the box. On the opposite end, Charles Lokolingoy will be in a make-it or break-it season. The young striker can be seen more as a target man and I see him as a "20 minutes to go, needing a goal, throw the kitchen sink at it" type of option for Corica.