by Jeremy Walker
Sydney FC have fallen to a narrow 1-0 defeat against Adelaide United in the opening round of the Liberty A-League season as the Premiers rued missed opportunities on a windy Sunday afternoon away at ServiceFC Stadium.
Sydney FC 0 def by Adelaide United 1 (Murray 88’)
The back-to-back Premiers opened the 2022/23 campaign with a narrow defeat as second half substitute Emilia Murray headed in against the run of play with two minutes remaining.
The Sky Blues dominated the second half after a tight contest in the first term, nearly finding the net through Princess Ibini and Charlie Rule, but Ante Juric’s side would rue their missed chances after Adelaide grabbed the late winner.
Moments That Mattered:
HAWKESBY GOES CLOSE 5’ – Cortnee Vine drives to the byline and cuts back for Mackenzie Hawkesby whose shot is saved sharply from close range by Annalee Grove.
WHYMAN SAVE 9’ – Jada Whyman is alert and gets out quickly to squash a dangerous low Adelaide cross from the left wing.
VINE NEARLY SCORES 52’ – Shay Evans holds the ball up on the left wing and sets it back for Anna Green who whips in a dangerous ball to the back post as Vine is just short of heading goalward.
IBINI GOES CLOSE 61’ – Vine plays the ball across the edge of the box from the right wing as Hawkesby inventively lets in run through to Princess Ibini on the left but Grove saves.
RULE GOES CLOSE 75’ – Hawkesby produces a dangerous cross from a corner on the left wing as Charlie Rule stretches out at the back post but cannot connect to direct the ball on goal.
MURRAY GOAL 88’ – Chelsie Dawber finds Emilia Murray with an over the top through ball as the striker heads over Whyman to score against the run of play.
What They Said: Ante Juric: “I’m disappointed with the result, as we had enough chances to come away with some points.
“The effort and intensity shown by the girls was again very high, which was pleasing, however this was not matched by our execution in possession, which was below our usual high standard.”
Sydney FC started the match on the front foot as Cortnee Vine drove to the byline from the right wing in the fifth minute to set up Mackenzie Hawkesby, whose shot was neatly saved by Adelaide goalkeeper Annalee Grove from close quarters.
Vine, who scored her first Matildas goal last month against South Africa, continued to cause the Adelaide defence issues down the right wing, utilising her pace to carry the ball as the winger linked up instinctively with Hawkesby and Shay Evans.
Strong winds going against the direction of the Sky Blues in the first term made it difficult to find the pace of Princess Ibini and Evans in behind, as the opening half produced a cagey affair with the visitors edging the duel contest at 51%.
The second half brought about a strong attacking display from Sydney FC as 17-year-old Jynaya Dos Santos came on in the 57th minute to make her Sky Blues debut as Adelaide found themselves under the pump.
Vine went close to heading in at the back post in the 52nd minute before Ibini had her one-on-one shot saved smartly by Adelaide’s keeper in the 61st.
Hawkesby provided several dangerous corners to cause the Adelaide defence havoc amongst the strong winds as Charlie Rule narrowly missed the ball with an outstretched leg at the back post in the 75th minute – with the Sky Blues looking more likely to find a late winner.
But Adelaide would snatch the victory in the 88th minute against the run of play as Chelsie Dawber launched the ball just past the halfway line to Emilia Murray inside the box, whose header dropped over Jada Whyman to make it 1-0.
A narrow defeat to start the new Liberty A-League season for the reigning Premiers but Ante Juric will be sure to have his side ready to bounce back for a Grand Final rematch on Saturday against Melbourne Victory at Cromer Park.
Sydney FC: 1.Jada WHYMAN (GK),3. Charlotte MCLEAN, 4. Anna GREEN, 6. Sarah HUNTER, 11. Cortnee VINE, 12. Natalie TOBIN, 15. Mackenzie HAWKESBY, 16. Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE, 19. Charlize RULE (2. Mary STANIC-FLOODY 77’), 20. Princess IBINI-ISEI, 24. Shadeene EVANS (17. Jynaya DOS SANTOS 57’).
Unused Subs: 30. Katie OFFER (GK), 5. Kirsty FENTON, 14. Abbey LEMON.
Yellow Cards: None
Red Cards: None
Adelaide United: 1. Annalee GROVE (GK), 8. Emily CONDON (7. Melindaj BARBIERI 79’), 9. Paige HAYWARD, 10. Chelsie DAWBER, 11. Isabel HODGSON (22. Emilia MURRAY 68’), 12. Nanako SASAKI, 13. Ella TONKIN, 16. Dylan HOLMES, 19. Maruschka WALDUS, 21. Yuyi XIAO (15. Katie BOWLER 68’), 23. Fiona WORTS (14. Meisha WESTLAND 86’).
Unused Subs: 26. Grace WILSON (GK).
Yellow Cards: Nanako Sasaki 36’, Yuyi Xiao 67’
Red Cards: None
Venue: ServiceFM Stadium
Referee: Georgia Ghirardello