Hyundai A-League Season Review: December


The Sky Blues continued to contest for a top four place during the festive period as a spate of freak injuries left Head Coach Graham Arnold’s playing squad depleted.

A thrilling three all draw away to Melbourne Victory highlighted December’s fixtures as Sydney FC contested a congested fixture schedule in the lead up to Christmas.


Round Nine:

Sydney FC 1 (Smeltz 55’) Perth Glory 2 (Griffiths 83’, Keogh 87’).

Thursday 4 December, 2014

Allianz Stadium

Attendance: 11,280

Match Summary: Sydney FC’s eight match Hyundai A-League unbeaten streak came to an end as league leaders Perth Glory snatched a late win at Allianz Stadium.

The Sky Blues dominated the second half and took the lead through a 55th minute chipped Shane Smeltz penalty after Dino Djulbic had handled inside the penalty box.  Danny Vukovic pulled off a remarkable one handed save from Terry Antonis four minutes later as Sydney FC searched for a second goal to kill off the game.

However a Rostyn Griffiths header from a free kick and an Andy Keogh penalty in the final seven minutes secured the points for Perth to snatch victory at the top of the table.

Graham Arnold: “I have to say I think that’s the best we’ve played over the last month, or three games let’s say. I thought today we controlled big periods of the game. We had disruptions during the week but overall there were a lot of positives to come out of it but it’s disappointing to lose in the last five minutes.

“There was a lot of space either side of Rostyn Griffiths and we tried without Janko to go with an extra midfielder to open up space for Brosque and Bernie and it worked well at times.

“They were the better side in the first half and we were the better side in the second half. We needed the second goal when we got the first, if we had got that I think we would have gone on and won the game.” 

League Position: 5


Round Ten:

Melbourne Victory 3 (Thompson 12’, 45+2’, 79’) Sydney FC 3 (Janko 16’, Smeltz 49’, 75’).

Saturday 13 December, 2014

Etihad Stadium

Attendance: 25,203

Match Summary: Sydney FC produced a thrilling 3-all draw with Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium in a game packed with incidents and goals.

A second half Shane Smeltz double followed Marc Janko’s first half opener but those goals were cancelled out by an Archie Thompson hat-trick for the home side.

A late Seb Ryall header could have won it for the Sky Blues while at the other end Vedran Janjetovic sprinted off his line to prevent Berisha giving Victory the points with virtually the last kick of the game.

Controversy reigned in the first half with Pedj Bojic and Terry Antonis having to get bandaged up for head wounds, the Antonis knock appearing to come courtesy of a Mark Milligan elbow to the eyebrow.

Graham Arnold: “I was very happy with the performance and believe that’s the best we’ve played away from home all season.  We didn’t have much luck tonight and to score three goals away from home and not come home with the win is hard on the boys.

“The has been a big week for us and we’ve taken a big step forward.”

League Position: 5


Round Eleven:

Sydney FC 0 Wellington Phoenix 2 (Burns 73’, 81’).

Sunday 21 December, 2014

Allianz Stadium

Attendance: 14,672

Match Summary: Two excellent solo goals from the Hyundai A-League’s leading marksman Nathan Burns sealed a Wellington Phoenix win over the Sky Blues at Allianz Stadium.

The Socceroos striker hit a brace in the final 20 minutes of the game to deny Sydney FC the points after the home side had dominated large parts of the game and a created a number of good chances.

Shane Smeltz had claims for a penalty turned down late on as the Sky Blues turned their attention Adelaide United on Boxing Day at Allianz Stadium in a crunch game.

Graham Arnold: “Up until they scored I don’t think they had a shot on goal and we should have gone in 2-0 up at half time.  That’s football, if you don’t take your chances and you don’t score when you are dominating the play then all it takes is one bit of sloppiness and you can be down 1-0 and that’s what happened.

“The boys are putting in everything they can but it’s a hiccup definitely and I’m a fighter and I’ll be working harder than ever and the boys have to work harder and fight harder too.

“That dressing room has been through some tough times over the last four or five weeks when they’ve seen their mates cop bad injuries and that can take its toll but we have to be stronger than that.

“I thought that for 65 minutes our players put a lot of pressure on the ball and we were physical and we didn’t give them time to play and we stopped them from getting in between the lines and finding space and after their first goal which came from a long ball it knocked the stuffing out of us.”

League Position: 5


Round Twelve:

Sydney FC 0 Adelaide United 3 (Djite 67’, Sanchez 80’, Mabil 90’).

Friday 26 December, 2014

Allianz Stadium

Attendance: 14,214

Match Summary: Sydney FC were left to rue missed opportunities as Adelaide United left Allianz Stadium on Boxing Day with all three points.

Despite having a squad decimated by long term injuries and unable to move in the transfer market until January, the Sky Blues had the better of the first half and were unlucky not to be ahead after creating a number of chances.

The visitors could also have been reduced to ten men on 35 minutes when Elrich brought down Janko who had a clear sight of goal but was only awarded a yellow card.

However Adelaide came more into the game in the second half and struck three without reply as Sydney FC went looking for the win.

Graham Arnold: “I think for 60 minutes we were decent value and I think we had the better of the first half.  The confidence of the boys is a little bit rattled at the moment but we’ve got to man up and move on.

“You have to give Adelaide credit they played well.  We’ve done a lot of work off the field to create a culture at the club and now we have to move on with it on the field.  Obviously everyone knows we are down on bodies and down on players but you can’t use that as an excuse because that was the team that played so well against Melbourne Victory.  It’s no secret when you look at it the loss of Sasa Ognenovski is a big blow because of his defensive qualities and leadership.

 “Someone told me two of the goals were offside but I haven’t seen them yet and I thought Janko was through one on one with the keeper and Tarek was the last defender but you have to ask the referee.

“It’s a really big challenge ahead for us.  A lot of those boys out there tonight, probably eight of them played less than ten games last season. We are analysing everything and we are trying to get the players to forget about the loss and move on.”

“We just have to stay positive and move forward.”

League Position: 5


Round Thirteen:

Brisbane Roar 0 Sydney FC 0

Tuesday 30 December, 2014

Suncorp Stadium

Attendance: 15,765

Match Summary: Sydney FC remain undefeated away from home as they were held by a stubborn Brisbane Roar outfit in stifling conditions at Suncorp Stadium on Tuesday night.

The Sky Blues pressed the home side early on forcing a number of turnovers as they spent a lot of time in the Roar half to no avail.

Bernie Ibini flashed a volley just wide of goal before Alex Brosque saw a flicked header tipped over by Jamie Young’s finger tips in the best two chances for the away side as Dimitri Petratos saw two efforts smothered in goals by Vedran Janjetovic at the other end.

The second half saw possession exchanged numerous times with both teams struggling to hold onto the ball on a rough pitch as Christopher Naumoff and Jean Carlos Solorzano went closest in the second period.

Both sides were forced to ultimately settle for a point.

Graham Arnold: “You have to be happy with the nil nil. I think the same players are backing up every week and with the short turn around all teams are having again you’d have to be happy with the point.

“It was roasting. I think it was 35 or 36 degrees here all day with high humidity, it was very warm and the boys ran out of legs a little bit, it was the same for both teams and there can’t be any excuses. Everyone knows we’ve had a terrible run with injuries but we have to get on with it and work hard. We’re sitting on 18 points, we’re in the top six and I do believe we will have a better second half of the season.

“We had a couple of good video sessions this week and the defence was much better tonight, there was more intensity to win the ball back, we weren’t letting players turn and face us and we knew Brisbane would give us a good test.”

League Position: 5


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