Four years ago Sydney FC’s Hyundai A-League side did it, now the junior Sky Blues have followed in their footsteps, claiming the first-ever National Youth League title in emphatic style in Saturday afternoon’s Grand Final against Adelaide United.
Four years ago Sydney FC-s Hyundai A-League side did it, now the junior Sky Blues have followed in their footsteps, claiming the first-ever National Youth League title in emphatic style in Saturday afternoon-s Grand Final against Adelaide United.
Steve O-Connor-s rising stars have set the benchmark for the competition all season since kicking off their campaign with eight successive victories, and they finished it in an equally impressive fashion, outclassing the Reds for a 2-nil victory.
“It was a great win. The boys had talked about it before, we couldn-t lose our focus,” said Ibrahim Haydar, who opened the scoring for Sydney in the first half of the Hindmarsh Stadium clash. “We had led throughout the season and we knew that it would all mean nothing, we had to win.”
The Minor Premiers showed their hand early, turning up the heat on Adelaide-s defence inside the first minute of the match, but it wasn-t until the 18th minute that either side could create a chance on goal, with United-s Francesco Monterosso spraying a shot well wide of Sydney-s net.
Three minutes later he was ruing the miss when a corner at the other end of the field paved the way for the junior Blues to claim the early advantage. Yet another raid into the attacking zone earned Sydney FC the opportunity and Captain, Chris Triantis provided inch-perfect delivery for Haydar, who defied the pressure coming from Red-s keeper, Mark Birighitti to hammer home the near post header.
The defender-s first goal in a Sky Blue shirt gave Sydney the upper hand but it was the outstretched glove of custodian, Vedran Janjetovic that maintained the lead on the half hour when he produced a great one-on-one stop to deny Scott Weidenbach.
With half-time approaching, Birighitti produced some brilliance of his own at the other end of the park to keep Chris Payne off the score-sheet and keep his team in the contest heading into the break.
The United gloveman was immediately at the centre of the action after the resumption, denying Kofi Danning-s downward header after some clever lead-up work from Sam Munro, and the Sky Blues kept up the pressure, with Munro himself having two good shots blocked within three seconds in the 73rd minute as they sought to put the result beyond the Red-s reach.
Brendan Gan probably should have done just that when faced with an open goal two minutes later but his angled effort was off target. Sydney didn-t have to wait much longer for its second goal, however, with substitute, Robbie Mileski capitalising on some strong work by Danning inside Adelaide-s eighteen and firing home from close range to all but secure the title for his side.
The home team threw men forward in the closing stages in a bid to bridge the gap but, despite repeated efforts, couldn-t come up with a way to crack Sydney-s rock-solid defence.
Tempers threatened to boil over as the contest entered injury time, and it ended on something of a sour note for the title-bound team, with Payne sent from the field for foul play in the final minute of the match. Nothing could take the gloss off the performance from Sydney, though, which more than lived up to the hype in taking a 2-nil win.
“We were very confident. The boys have worked hard all year and it finally paid off for us,” said goal-scorer, Mileski.
“It-s been a good season,” added Sky Blues- skipper, Triantis. “It was a tough game out there. Adelaide are a good team but they were just unlucky on the day.”
The full-time whistle signalled the start of the celebrations, but they will be short-lived for several members of squad who will travel to China with the senior team next week for Sydney-s upcoming friendly clash with Shanghai Shenhua.
Sydney FC 2 (HAYDAR 21-, MILESKI 77-)
Adelaide United 0
Sydney FC: 20.Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 2.Rhyan GRANT, 4.Chris TRIANTIS (c) (17.Luke AUSTIN 80-), 5.Matthew JURMAN, 6.Chris PAYNE, 8.Antony GOLEC (10.Zach CAIRNCROSS 85-), 11.Kofi DANNING, 12.Ibrahim HAYDAR, 13.Sam MUNRO, 14.Brendan GAN, 15.Matthew HALL (7.Robbie MILESKI 66-).
Substitutes not used: 30.Lachlan TIBBLES (gk).
Yellow Cards: Robbie MILESKI 69-, Matthew JURMAN 90-.
Red Cards: Chris PAYNE 90+3-.
Goals: Ibrahim HAYDAR 21-, Robbie MILESKI 77-.
Adelaide United: 30.Mark BIRIGHITTI (gk), 2.Michael DOYLE (17.Angelo ARAMBATSIS 76-), 3.Scott WEIDENBACH (9.Andrew CIARLA 56-), 5.Shane TOBIAS, 6.Alexander SUNASKY (c), 7.Joel ALLWRIGHT, 8.Matthew MULLEN, 10.Osama MALIK, 12.Michael VALKANIS (OA), 15.Francesco MONTEROSSO, 16.Michael DE BONO (11.Joseph COSTA 67-).
Substitutes not used: 40.Lucas ANDREUCCI (gk).
Yellow Cards: Shane TOBIAS 60-.
Red Cards: nil.
Referee: Kris Griffiths-Jones.