Preview: Sydney FC v North Queensland Fury

Sydney and North Queensland face off for the second time inside the first six rounds and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since they last met in an historic match for the Fury at Dairy Farmers Stadium on August 8th.

Date: Saturday September 12 Kick-off: 7:30pm AEST Venue: Sydney Football Stadium, Sydney TV and Radio: Live & exclusive broadcast on Fox Sports 1. To purchase tickets visit www.ticktek.com.au

Head-to-head Played: 1 Wins: Sydney 1

Previous meeting North Queensland Fury 2, Sydney FC 3, Dairy Farmers Stadium, Round 1, August 2009

Season so far: Sydney FC: Round 1: North Queensland 2, Sydney FC 3, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 2: Sydney FC 1, Adelaide United 0, SFS Round 3: Central Coast 0, Sydney FC 0, Bluetongue Stadium Round 4: Sydney FC 2, Wellington Phoenix 0, SFS Round 5: Gold Coast United 2, Sydney FC 1, Skilled Park

North Queensland: Round 1: North Queensland 2, Sydney FC 3, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 2: Gold Coast United 5, North Queensland 0, Skilled Park Round 3: North Queensland 0, Melbourne Victory 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium Round 4: Adelaide United 3, North Queensland 3, Hindmarsh Stadium Round 5: North Queensland Fury 1, Brisbane Roar 1, Dairy Farmers Stadium

Analysis: Sydney and North Queensland face off for the second time inside the first six rounds and a lot of water has flowed under the bridge since they last met in an historic match for the Fury at Dairy Farmers Stadium on August 8th.

In many ways it has proven a metaphor for the Fury's season, which has seen the new franchise start slowly, before regaining composure and becoming more competitive as time has worn on. In that opening match, the Fury were at sixes and sevens in defence early, but after going down 2-0 found themselves level on the hour after goals from Rostyn Griffiths and Robbie Fowler. It took a late John Aloisi penalty to separate the two sides and the Fury could feel a little unlucky.

Back-to-back losses against Gold Coast and Melbourne followed and there was a sense that Ian Ferguson's team were struggling to measure up to the class of the competition. But in the last two weeks there have been plenty of good signs without much luck. The Fury led deep into injury time against Adelaide, only to cop another late penalty, while the three points looked in the bag until a lucky goal from Brisbane's Mitch Nichols saw the Roar rescue a point against the hosts who played much of the last hour with 10 men.

So while a return of two points from five games may not seem enough, the fact is that the Fury have not had an easy draw. They have played the top three teams from last year in the past three matches, while their opening two matches were against the team's currently on top of the table.

The task doesn't get any easier with a trip to Sydney to take on a Sky Blues outfit no doubt determined to bounce back from the 2-1 loss to Gold Coast last week. The Fury have lost back-up keeper Justin Pasfield to a rib injury, while Paul Kohler is suspended. Osama Malik and John Tambouras are included.

Sydney put in its worst performance of the year against Gold Coast last week. The Sky Blues were outplayed by the Hyundai A-League newboys and Vitezslav Lavicka would be reminding his men that they need to lift their standard.

Sydney has a strong home record in two games this year, having won both, against Wellington and Adelaide, and having not conceded a goal in 180 minutes in front of the SFS crowd. The away form has been a little more patchy having dropped points against the Mariners as well as Gold Coast.

Stuart Musialik is again included in an extended squad along with Matthew Jurman and Adam Casey, but Lavicka looks likely to stick with much the same line-up he has for much of the year.

The consensus on this match is that both teams have improved significantly over the past few weeks. Sydney, which plays back-to-back matches at home, will be looking for six points from those two, while if North Queensland was to record its first Hyundai A-League win at the SFS, it would be a huge effort.

Sydney FC squad: 1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 3. Stephan KELLER, 4. Simon COLOSIMO, 6. Karol KISEL, 7. Brendan GAN, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 9. John ALOISI, 10. Steve CORICA (c), 11. Kofi DANNING, 12. Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 17. Matthew JURMAN, 18. Adam CASEY, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 22. Sung Hwan BYUN, 23. Rhyan GRANT. *three to be omitted*

In: Stuart MUSIALIK (promoted), Matthew JURMAN (promoted), Adam CASEY (promoted)

Out: Nil

Unavailable: Mitchell PRENTICE (back - 1 week), Terry MCFLYNN (thigh - 3 weeks)

North Queensland Fury squad: 1.Paul HENDERSON (gk), 2.Robbie MIDDLEBY, 3.Chris TADROSSE, 6.Ufuk TALAY 7.Jason SPAGNUOLO, 8.Shane STEFANUTTO 9.Robbie FOWLER (c), 11.David WILLIAMS, 14.Chris GROSSMAN, 15.Fred AGIUS, 17.Osama MALIK 18.James ROBINSON, 19.Daniel MCBREEN, 21.John TAMBOURAS 22.Karl DODD, 23.Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 24.Dyron DAAL *two to be omitted; one goalkeeper to be added*

In: Osama MALIK (promoted), John TAMBOURAS (promoted)

Out: Paul KOHLER (Suspended), Justin PASFIELD (rib injury)

Unavailable: Scott Wilson (foot - 1 week), Jacob Timpano (hamstring - indefinite), Jeremy Brockie (quadriceps - 3 weeks)