Dramatic Melbourne fight-back denies Sydney victory

Sydney FC’s final four hopes have been dealt a blow, with the side going down against Melbourne in a five goal thriller on Saturday night at the Telstra Dome.

Sydney FC-s final four hopes have been dealt a blow, with the side going down against Melbourne in a five goal thriller on Saturday night at the Telstra Dome.

John Kosmina-s men were quick out of the boxes, jumping out to a 2-nil lead inside the first four minutes, but the Victory responded to the early onslaught, pulling one back in the opening period and sealing the Sky Blue-s fate with second half goals to substitutes, Nick Ward and Ney Fabiano.

“We probably started too well,” said Sydney coach, Kosmina. “We needed to remain focused and we lost a little bit of, I guess, attention with their first goal and Melbourne built in confidence.”

If people thought the recent struggles of the two sides would lead to a tentative start then Sydney quickly shattered that illusion.

Shortly after kick-off Robbie Middleby made a searching run down Melbourne-s left. He laid the ball inside and Shannon Cole who found the back of the net with a sweet left-foot strike that shocked the Victory fans into stunned silence after only 30 seconds of play.

The home side looked to settle into the contest but the Sky Blues refused to let them get comfortable. Three minutes later Alex Brosque found Brendan Gan on the edge of the Melbourne area and the rising star slammed another long-bomb deep into the right-hand corner of the net to double the advantage to two.

Sydney continued to press but Melbourne showed some dangerous signs on the counter attack, and in the 14th minute the Sky Blues paid the price for a lapse in concentration. A quickly taken free kick left Archie Thompson unmarked in the box and the Socceroo striker gave Ivan Necevski no chance, reducing the deficit to one.

That sparked the home side into action and it poured pressure onto the visiting team, with a series of corners and dangerous free kicks drawing the best out of Necevski. In the 21st minute the newly re-signed custodian made a superb stop on his near post and in the 29th he was once-more the saviour when the hosts were again given too much room in the 18-yard area.

After enduring the barrage Sydney resumed its own attack, and in the 34th minute Cole almost had his second with his beautifully taken set piece drawing a great save from Michael Theoklitos. Two minutes later the right midfielder almost turned provider, finding Brosque in the middle with a lovely floating cross, but his header narrowly missed the mark, and ten tense minutes later the Sky Blues went to the break with a well-earned one goal lead.

The start of the second half was a lot less frenetic than the first but Sydney skipper, Steve Corica kept Melbourne honest with two half-chances inside the first five minutes.

The match ebbed and flowed until the 60th minute, when Brosque had a gilt-edged opportunity to re-build Sydney-s lead but couldn-t convert his angled effort after making good space for himself in the box.

It was a miss the Sky Blues would regret ten minutes later, with Melbourne substitute, Ward making a stellar start and equalising from outside the area only seconds after entering the fray.

Brosque almost re-established Sydney-s advantage immediately, but was again pressured into a miss from close range - with 11 minutes remaining the hosts made no such mistake.

With defender, Beau Busch on the sideline receiving attention for a head cut, Fabiano became the second substitute to score, handing Melbourne its first lead of the game after a scramble on Sydney-s far post.

John Kosmina-s men fought to the end and gave the hosts plenty of nervous moments, but they couldn-t claw their way back into the contest and Melbourne held on to take an unlikely victory, three goals to two.

“It makes it hard for us now but we still have four games left and we just have to pick ourselves up again,” said Kosmina. “I was happy with the way we played tonight and if we can bring that effort every week we will win games.”

Sydney now faces a do-or-die clash with Hyundai A-League leaders, Adelaide United, next Saturday in South Australia.

Match Detail

Melbourne Victory 3 (Archie THOMPSON 14-, Nick WARD 70-, Ney FABIANO 79-) Sydney FC 2 (Shannon COLE 1-, Brendan GAN 4-)

Melbourne Victory: 1. Michael THEOKLITOS (gk), 2. Kevin MUSCAT (c), 3. Michael THWAITE (7. Matthew KEMP 63-), 5. Sebastian RYALL, 9. Daniel ALLSOPP, 10. Archie THOMPSON, 12. Rodrigo VARGAS, 14. Billy CELESKI (11. Ney FABIANO 63-), 15. Tomislav PONDELJAK, 16. Carlos HERNANDEZ, 19. Evan BERGER (22. Nick WARD70-).

Substitute not used: 20. Mitchell LANGERAK (gk).

Yellow Cards: Billy CELESKI 43-. Red Cards: nil. Goals: Archie THOMPSON 14-, Nick WARD 70-, Ney FABIANO 79-.

Sydney FC: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2. Iain FYFE, 7. Robbie MIDDLEBY, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 10. Steve CORICA (c) ( 23. John ALOISI 71-), 12. Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 27. Matthew JURMAN (28. Bobby PETTA 87-), 29. Beau BUSCH, 32. Brendan GAN.

Substitutes not used: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 34. Rhyan GRANT.

Yellow Cards: Iain FYFE 45-+3, Shannon COLE 52-, Matthew JURMAN 62-. Red Cards: nil. Goals: Shannon COLE 1-, Brendan GAN 4-.

Referee: Matthew Breeze. Crowd: 25,398 at the Telstra Dome.