Sydney FC 2 (25’, 71’ Ninkovic) def. Western United FC 1 (61’ Diamanti)
A brace to Serbian star Milos Ninkovic sealed a solid win for Sydney FC against new Hyundai A-League outfit Western United at Morshead Park, Ballarat on Friday afternoon.
The 2016/17 Johnny Warren Medal winner struck either side of the interval to cancel out Alessandro Diamanti’s second half effort, in a tense and at times fiery encounter.
Moments That Mattered:
- Redmayne Saves – 7’ – Stamatelopoulos is played through as Western United counter, but his poke at goal is blocked point blank by Andrew Redmayne in goals.
- Ninkovic Scores – 25’ – A ball over the top from Michael Zullo finds the Serbian who brings it down, before lifting it over the rushing Kurto and in.
- Adam Le Fondre Shoots – 30’ – Alex Baumjohann’s splitting ball releases Adam Le Fondre into the box on the left, but his low effort across goal is smothered by Kurto.
- Michael Zullo Blocks – 56’ – Diamanti gets free at the top of the box to fire a cut back at goal, but Michael Zullo does well to get his foot in the way and block the danger.
- Diamanti Scores – 61’ – After Rhyan Grant was cruelly adjudged to have fouled in the area granting Western United a penalty, Alessandro Diamanti heads home from on the line after seeing his initial spot kick well saved by Redmayne.
- Redmayne Saves Again – 63’ – A dangerous curling free kick from Diamanti is tipped over by a backtracking Redmayne.
- Ninkovic Scores The Winner – 71’ – Pressing high up the field, Milos Ninkovic wins the ball on the edge of Western United’s box before curling a tidy effort beyond Kurto.
- Late Le Fondre Chance – 81’ – Adam Le Fondre brings down a great lofted ball from Brandon O’Neill to burst into the area, but the Englishman is tackled while shooting and Western United regather.
The tone for the match was set from the first five minutes, with both sides throwing all their weight into challenges, accruing a number of fouls early on.
Andrew Redmayne was the first goalkeeper called into action, denying Stamatelopoulos from close range following a swift Western United counter attack, before Alex Baumjohann grew into the match with a number of defence splitting passes causing concern for the home side.
It was the passing vision of Michael Zullo however, that led to the opening strike, as his lofted ball over a high Western United defence released Milos Ninkovic, who brought the ball down with ease before producing a classy finish and lifting the ball over the onrushing Filip Kurto in goal.
The goal put a spring in the Sky Blues’ step as Head Coach Steve Corica’s charges closed out the first half with vigour, as Adam Le Fondre and Ryan McGowan both saw efforts closed down before the break.
Western United were handed an equaliser 15 minutes into the second half, as Rhyan Grant was harshly adjudged to have fouled in the area, with Italian Alessandro Diamanti heading home on the line after a fantastic save from the spot from Andrew Redmayne.
It was Serbian Milos Ninkovic who’d steal the new side’s thunder however, as his high press saw the ball won on the edge of Western United’s box, with the midfield maestro calmly converting for the match winner.
A series of substitutes saw Western United throw everything at the game in the closing stages, however a well-drilled Sydney FC defence ensured it would be the Sky Blues leaving Victoria with a solid victory.
What they said:
Head Coach Steve Corica:
“It was a good win and was about making sure the boys got their 90 minutes in today,” he said.
“It was a good hit out and the performance defensively again was good. Two great goals also from Ninkovic.
“We’ve played better than that, it was difficult conditions to play our style of football, but overall I’m pretty pleased.”
“It was a very tough and physical game, especially the first 25 or 30 minutes,” he said.
“I’m happy that we won the game, that’s the most important thing. We have two more weeks until the season starts and the most important thing is everyone staying healthy.
“I’m happy that I scored two goals, I’m happy that we won.”
Sydney FC: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 4. Alex WILKINSON, 5. Alex BAUMJOHANN (82’ 17. Anthony CACERES), 6. Ryan MCGOWAN, 7. Michael ZULLO (67’ 8. Paulo RETRE), 9. Adam LE FONDRE, 10. Milos NINKOVIC, 11. Kosta BARBAROUSES (88’ 18. Luke IVANOVIC), 13. Brandon O’NEILL, 23. Rhyan GRANT, 26. Luke BRATTAN.
Subs Not Used: 20. Tom HEWARD-BELLE (GK), 2. Patrick FLOTTMANN, 16. Joel KING, 29. Harry VAN DER SAAG.
Yellow Cards: 61’ Ninkovic.
Red Cards: None.
Western United: 1. Filip KURTO (GK), 4. Andrew DURANTE (87’ 24. Thiel IRADUKUNDA), 6. Connor CHAPMAN, 8. Panagiotis KONE (37’ 12. Dario JERTEC), 9. Apostolos STAMATELOPOULOS (77’ 29. Chris LUCAS), 10. Scott MCDONALD (87’ 26. Aamir ABDALLAH), 11. Connor PAIN (87’ 13. Ivan VUJICA), 15. Johnathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 17. Joshua CAVALLO (51’ 23. Alessandro DIAMANTI), 19. Josh RISDON, 22. Ersam GULUM.
Subs Not Used: 20. James DELIANOV (GK), 3. Brendan HAMILL, 5. Dylan PIERIAS, 25. Luke DUZEL, 27. Akok AKOI AROK, 28. Alou KUOL.
Yellow Cards: None.
Red Cards: None.
Ground: Morshead Park