Sydney snatch a point

Sydney FC's finals hopes hang by a thread despite salvaging a 1-1 draw against Melbourne Victory with an injury-time equaliser from substitute striker Juho Makela at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Sydney FC's finals hopes hang by a thread despite salvaging a 1-1 draw against Melbourne Victory with an injury-time equaliser from substitute striker Juho Makela at the Sydney Football Stadium.

For the first time this season Sydney FC fielded an unchanged line-up for a third successive match and the fluency showed for the home side in the first half.

The Victory for their part were forced to make do without inspirational skipper Kevin Muscat, who sat out the match with suspension following his red card against Adelaide United last weekend, allowing youngster Petar Franjic to make his Hyundai A-League debut. Adrian Leijer was also missing with injury to compound Ernie Merrick's defensive worries.

Leigh Broxham bundled over Nick Carle on the edge of the penalty area in the early stages but the Victory defender escaped censure while Sydney were unable to make the free-kick count.

Danny Allsopp then spurned a golden opportunity to score his first goal since returning to his former club. The one-time Hyundai A-League top goalscorer was unable to convert from close range under pressure from Stephan Keller following a low ball played across goal by Ricardinho from the right.

Sydney lifted their intensity in the final 15 minutes of the half with the period amongst their best of the season. Firstly Sung-Hwan Byun warmed the fingers of Michael Petkovic with the Victory custodian relieved to push the long-range effort around the post.

Petkovic was again forced to earn his keep just moments later in making an impressive goalline block from Bruno Cazarine whose header seemed set to break the deadlock.

Sydney were playing with confidence and Dimitri Petratos twice used his pace to bring the home crowd to their feet only to narrowly miss the target on both occasions.

At the other end of the field Allsopp's snapshot produced a save from Liam Reddy but it was only a brief interlude in the flow.

Almost immediately Petratos set-up Hirofumi Moriyasu but the Japanese midfielder's curling effort from 20 metres struck the post as Sydney edged closer to the all-important opening goal.

Merrick rung the changes at half-time as he sought to stem Sydney's momentum, bringing on Mate Dugandzic and Matthew Foschini for Ricardinho and Broxham.

Sure enough the Victory started with renewed vigour and got their reward almost immediately thanks to the genius of Carlos Hernandez. The Costa Rican supplied a sublime pass on the counter-attack for Allsopp to score with the help of a looping deflection.

Dugandzic headed wide midway through the half with Reddy rooted to the spot as Melbourne missed the chance to take the match out of Sydney's reach.

The home side were largely reduced to long-range efforts on goal though a moment of Carle brilliance set Petratos free but with only Petkovic to beat the youngster was unable connect with his shot.

Five minutes from time Carle powered a header goalwards only for Petkovic to again produce an acrobatic stop.

Petkovic's goal was finally breached in injury time as Finnish striker Makela instinctively turned home Carle's cross-come-shot.

"It's a cliche but there is no doubt it was a game of two halves," said Melbourne Victory coach Ernie Merrick. "The boys lifted [in the second half]."

"We were disappointed we didn't get all three points but we can't be that greedy. The game deserved to be a draw because they [Sydney] certainly had the better of the first half."

Sydney FC coach Vitezslav Lavicka had mixed feelings after the match.

"Both teams played a very good game."

"We had a great first half, showed quality and created chances but we didn't score the goal."

"We increased the effort in the last part of the game, we tried to change the game, we made a couple of substitutions and we changed the system for the last 10 minutes."

Sydney FC 1 (Juho Makela 91-) Melbourne Victory 1 (Danny Allsopp 51-) Crowd: 11,387 @ the SFS