Sydney scraps a win

Sydney FC has returned to the top of Hyundai A-League ladder after coming from behind to earn a hard-fought 3-1 win over Newcastle in a torrid F3 derby at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday evening.

Sydney FC has returned to the top of Hyundai A-League ladder after coming from behind to earn a hard-fought 3-1 win over Newcastle in a torrid F3 derby at EnergyAustralia Stadium on Sunday evening.

Newcastle took the lead with a well-taken goal to Jobe Wheelhouse in the 33rd minute before veteran striker John Aloisi levelled the match right on the stroke of half-time. Former Newcastle player Stuart Musalik put Sydney ahead in the 49th minute and substitute Christopher Payne confirmed the victory with his first A-League goal in stoppage time.

The win sees Sydney re-take top spot on 42 points just a point ahead of Melbourne and the Gold Coast while the Jets hold onto fourth spot despite the loss but are just a point in front of Perth Glory and three in front of Wellington with three rounds to play.

Sydney coach Vitezslav Lavicka agreed it was a timely win for Sydney, particularly after the team had only picked up a point from its last two outings including a demoralising 1-0 home loss to the Gold Coast last week.

“We wanted to show our fans that we are a better team than we showed a week ago,” he said after the match. “We played well today. We played well as a team and individually. We are very happy with this performance.”

Newcastle coach Branko Culina acknowledged the goals conceded in the crucial five-minute period either side of half-time crushed Newcastle-s chances in the match

“That was the killer - the goal just before half time really killed us,” he said. “We just lost a little bit of concentration and discipline and we paid the price for it.”

The game got underway in perfect conditions in front of Newcastle-s biggest home crowd of the year of 9892 and it was a typical derby encounter from the opening whistle with plenty of strong tackling and an intensive midfield battle that forced both teams to shot from outside the area in the settling-in period.

Sydney should have taken the lead in the 13th minute after some fine work from Steve Corica. The Sydney skipper delivered a perfect through ball to set Alex Brosque free into the penalty area but Jets goalkeeper Ben Kennedy dived strongly to his left to parry away the on-target shot from point-blank range.

Sydney created another strong chance when midfielder Sung-Hwan Byun headed wide to Aloisi. He rounded Tarek Elrich before sliding a dangerous cross into Brosque, who scuffed his shot across the face of goal from just four yards out.

The Jets worked hard to play their way back in the match and were rewarded when they broke the deadlock in the 33rd minute.

Nikolai Topor-Stanley found Thompson in an attacking position 30 metres out from goal and the skipper showed great vision to see Wheelhouse making a determined run into the area, putting the ball at his feet and the big midfielder made no mistake from 15 yards ploughing a crisp left-footed strike past an advancing Clint Bolton.

Sydney stepped up its attack, launching a number of promising raids that were gamely defended by the well-organised Jets backline of Ljubo Milicevic, Angelo Costanzo and Topor-Stanley but eventually the pressure told right on the stroke of half-time.

Musialik threaded a ball through the midfield towards Aloisi on the edge of the box, he stepped over the ball to allow Terry McFlynn to advance on goal and when he was challenged by Milicevic the ball squirted out to Aloisi, who slotted home a left-foot shot into the far corner to send the sides to the break locked at 1-1.

Culina, presiding over his 300th match in a national fixture, decided to go all out for the win bringing on striker Sean Rooney for defender Costanzo and it may have been the wrong decision when Sydney took the lead just four minutes into the second half.

McFlynn took the ball in an attacking position on the left wing before ghosting inside and delivering a ball to Musalik, who unleashed a low curving shot from 25 yards that snuck inside the near post much to the bemusement of Kennedy who appeared unsighted by the shot through a crowded defensive line.

Both sides made changes in the punishing encounter with Ali Abbas replacing Michael Bridges and Rhyan Grant coming on for Corica in the 73rd minute while Payne came on for Aloisi moments later after the goal-scorer clutched at his left hamstring in the 76th minute.

Newcastle went all-out to get something from the match with Labinot Haliti coming on in the 81st minute but the Sydney defensive, featuring Simon Colosimo and Stephan Keller stood firm as the home side launched a series of desperate last-ditch efforts.

Sydney sealed the victory two minutes into stoppage time when Grant and Payne worked a nice move down the right wing that saw Payne slide a shot past Kennedy and inside the far post.

Newcastle Jets 1 (Wheelhouse 33)

Sydney FC 3 (Aloisi 45, Musalik 49, Payne 90+2)

Crowd 9892 at EnergyAustralia Stadium