A second-half strike from Alex Brosque has spared Sydney FC’s blushes, the skipper leading his side to a 1-0 win against Newcastle on Friday night.
In a one-sided affair at Allianz Stadium the Sky Blues were guilty of spurning a glut of chances with marquee striker Filip Holosko the main offender, missing four gilt-edged opportunities in the first-half.
However Brosque came to the rescue, with his winner Sydney’s first goal in three matches, which sees them go joint top of the table alongside Victory and the Wanderers on 16 points for at least 24-hours.
Coach Graham Arnold handed a first start to Olyroo Andrew Hoole, who put in a strong shift against his former club, in an otherwise unchanged line-up from last week.
Striker Milos Trifunovic was back for the Jets but skipper Nigel Boogaard failed to recover from his ankle injury, while Ryan Kitto was handed his first start for Newcastle.
1-0 Alex Brosque (57’) The Sky Blues finally opened the scoring just shy of the hour mark when a defence splitting pass from Milos Ninkovic on the left wing set their captain through on goal. Brosque held his nerve with just Birighitti to beat, lashing a left-footed effort inside the far post to register his 50th Hyundai A-League goal.
It’s not easy to get anything past Mark Birighitti at the moment, who leads the league with saves despite missing a match. The Jets custodian made another two timely interventions to keep his side in the contest at the break. First the 24-year-old denied a Holosko header from point blank range and minutes later got down well to again repel the Slovak international from a one on one situation. Holosko’s placement was left wanting on both occasions but Birraz again came up with the goods.
OPTA DATA KEY STATS
Alex Brosque’s winner was his 11th goal against Newcastle in 23 matches.
Sydney FC extended their unbeaten run against the Jets to nine matches (W7 D2).
The Sky Blues have also now kept a clean sheet in seven of their last eight A-League clashes against Newcastle.
Filip Holosko. The marquee striker will be having nightmares about his first half effort which should’ve seen him have a hat-trick by the break. It all started with an early miss on 16 minutes. Brosque played a pass back to Hoole on the left, who delivered a beautifully weighted pass to the surging Holosko at the back post. With Birighitti beaten and the goal gaping the Slovak striker inexplicably fired the ball into the post from two metres out.
Sebastian Ryan was taken to the sideline for a concussion test after receiving a knock to the head in an aerial dual with Kitto but was cleared to return to the fray.
In a worrying sign for Sky Blues fans Brosque was a late casualty, limping off with what appeared to be a hamstring injury.
THE FINAL WORD
The Sky Blues were deserving winners considering the amount of chances they created but their profligacy in front of goal could’ve easily cost them the three points.
As so often is the case when one side fails to convert their opportunities the Jets had a great chance to open the scoring straight after half-time through Enver Alivodic, while Nick Cowburn headed just over the bar from a corner in injury-time.
Graham Arnold will be a relieved man, with both sides' finishing no doubt to be addressed during the week at training.
Sydney FC: Janjetovic (gk), Ryall, Gersbach, Grant, Jurman, Hoole (Blackwood 72’), Tavares, Ninkovic (Faty 86'), Dimitrijevic, Holosko, Brosque (c), (Smeltz 86’)
Newcastle Jets: Birighitti (gk), Hoffman, Ki-je, Jackson (Crowley 72’), Kantarovski, Poljak (c), Watson (Cowburn 65’), Kitto (Pavicevic 82'), Alivodic, Carney, Trifunovic
Scorers: Brosque 57’
Red cards: nil
Yellow cards: Hoffman 77’
Conditions: 17C, clear
Attendance: 9155 at Allianz Stadium