For the second time in two weeks, a late penalty has denied Sydney FC Hyundai A-League points.
After watching his side lose 2-1 to a 90th minute spot-kick against Adelaide United last week, Sky Blues coach Graham Arnold again saw a penalty awarded to the opposition in the dying stages of their 1-1 draw with the Phoenix in Wellington.
To make matters worse, Sydney FC had squandered their own chance from twelve yards with Andrew Hoole first earning and then missing a penalty early in the second half.
“If you go up 1-0, the confidence levels rise and Wellington have to chase the game and more space opens, but I thought we were very good,” said Arnold.
“We made enough chances to win three or four games. We just don’t seem to be able to find the back of the net at the moment. We hit the post and Glen Moss pulled off a couple of good saves, but overall I was pretty pleased.”
“If we build on that and continue to play like that, we’re going to have a very successful second half of the season,” he said.
Tactically, Arnold masterminded an excellent defensive performance which allowed the Phoenix’s dangerous attacking players few chances. But the Sydney mentor was unwilling to elaborate too much on how his side had achieved that.
“We’ve got to play them again, don’t we?” smiled Arnold.
“We’ve worked hard on our defence. Ernie’s a great coach and he’s got some quick players up front and you have to starve them of possession. If you play the game too open, they’ll kill you,” he added.
With his defence functioning well, Arnold will focus his attention on the front third in an effort to increase Sydney’s goal output after Christmas.
“Our attack is getting better and better,” he said.
“(Milos) Ninkovic and (Filip) Holosko are finding their feet. I thought Matty Simon was excellent tonight. He held the ball up well, brought people into the game, worked his backside off and drove Dura and Muscat mad.”
Sydney FC next face the Central Coast Mariners at Allianz Stadium on Boxing Day.