Sky Blues Narrowly Go Down In First Semi Final Leg

An opening goal from Joel King was a promising start for the Sky Blues, but an unfortunate series of events saw the hosts go down 2-1 at Allianz Stadium in the semi-final first leg.

A disallowed goal, a disputed penalty and a valiant nine man display in the final moments, following two controversial red cards, created many talking points; but Sydney FC still have another chance at securing a spot in the Grand Final if they win by two goals in the second leg next weekend.

Central Coast Mariners 2 (Nisbet 45’ & Doka 56’) def. Sydney FC 1 (King 25’).

Moments That Mattered 

7’ – REDMAYNE SAVE – Christian Theoharous shook off Sydney FC defence, finding himself dribbling down the left wing. The Mariners winger came head-to-head with Sky Blue goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne, but his attempt was denied by the keeper who palmed off the strike, launching it over the centre of the cross bar.

12’ – MATTHEWS RUN – young gun Hayden Matthews danced around the Mariners midfield, denying the oppositions defence any chance at making a tackle. Edging towards the penalty box, the centre back was stopped in his tracks before he could capitalise.

19’ – REDMAYNE SLIDE – a daring attempt to save the Sky Blues from carnage paid off following an exceptional body slide from Redmayne in the penalty area to save at the feet Kuol. Rhyan Grant was ready for the clearance.

25’ – KING GOAL – an outstanding challenge from Corey Hollman in the defensive half set up the Sky Blues for a tremendous run down the right edge. A pass from Robert Mak to a fresh off the bench Max Burgess was the perfect set up for the Sky Blue entourage. Burgess delivered a flat ball to Anthony Caceres whose touch found the right foot of Joel King. King’s strike scrapped past Mariners keeper Daniel Vukovic, locking away the first goal.

45’ – NISBET GOAL – the Mariners broke their deadlock on the stroke of halftime when Nisbet got his second chance at goal following a long range shot from Doka which Redmayne initially saved. The minute midfielder chipped away the ball into the right-hand corner with a deflection off Redmayne.

56’ – DOKA PENALTY – ill-footing from Caceres accidentally took down Theoharous in the penalty box. Mikael Doka took the shot on behalf of his squad. The strike was successful after a close encounter with Redmayne’s fingertips in the bottom right corner.

60’ – RODWELL RED CARD – Jack Rodwell’s yellow card for a bad foul was upgraded to a red sheet following a VAR decision.

72’ – SYDNEY FC DISALLOWED GOAL – a header from Grant found the back of the net but the referee called offside from Gabriel Lacerda during an earlier play just moments before. The goal was disallowed.

82’ – HOLLMAN RED CARD – an unfortunate clash with an opposing player saw Hollman’s second yellow for the match, resulting in a red card. The Sky Blues were down to nine men on the field.

Hayden Matthews makes an attempt at goal.

What They Said: Ufuk Talay: “We didn’t start the game off well. After 15-20 minutes, we got ourselves into the game and got some momentum and scored a very good goal.

“Conceding in the last kick of the half brought them back into the game and then conceding a goal from our set piece, a transition moment where they [CCM] break and get a penalty from it and then obviously making our lives difficult going to ten and nine men.

“The boys dug deep and kept the score 2-1 which definitely gives us a chance in the second game.

“It is the referees call at the end of the day. He sees it the way he sees it and he gave the penalty so it is a penalty. With Jack’s [red card], I can only see the replays so if his feet come off the ground and there is contact then the rule says it is a red card, then it is a red card.

“He [Jake Girdwood-Reich] just has a cork injury. We will see how he pulls up. We have been through this, this year with injuries and and suspensions and we will go again, players will step up.

“It was always going to be a tough game but disappointing to concede a goal that late in the first half to allow them to come back in.”

Andrew Redmayne saves Christian Theoharous’ strike.

Match Report:

Although Ufuk Talay’s squad fell short by one goal, they still have another chance at winning the Championship if they beat the Mariners in Gosford next weekend.

The opening half of the first semi final was a passionate affair with each squad gunning to execute the first goal for the evening.

The visitors set the precedence for the match with a chance from Christian Theoharous in the initial five minutes of time. The Mariners winger managed to be rid of Sydney FC defence, running the ball down the left edge. However, Sky Blue goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne was prepared for the challenge. Redmayne palmed off the winger’s strike, forcing the ball to ricochet over the cross bar.

Young centre-back Hayden Matthews made an impeccable escape from the pack of yellow jerseys, denying the Mariners defence any chance at making a tackle. Edging closer towards the goal Matthews was stopped in his tracks before he could capitalize.

The Sky Blues suffered a blow when Jake Girdwood-Reich was subbed off during the 18th minute after sustaining a minor but inconvenient cork injury. Max Burgess stepped up to the plate, causing havoc for the Central Coast fresh off the bench.

A bold move from Redmayne saved the hosts from carnage on their home turf. The goalkeeper put his body on the line, sliding from the six yard box to the penalty area to stop the Mariners from putting a number on the scoresheet. The fearless diving save at the feet of Kuol paid off when Rhyan Grant was on standby for the clearance.

The Sky Blue army drew first blood. Tenacious defence from Corey Hollman set up Robert Mak for a centre field siege. The Slovakian found Max Burgess on the right corner of the penalty box. Burgess crossed a flat ball to Anthony Caceres who nudged the ball backwards off his heel. Joel King sent the ball through the net, scoring the opening goal.

Just moments before the halftime whistle, the Mariners hit back. Hot off his last attempt, Joshua Nisbet capitalized on a Redmayne fumble from a Doka shot to level on the stroke of half time.

The last 45 minutes was a fiery affair when the Mariners were awarded a penalty. Awkward footing from Caceres mistakenly took down Theoharous in the penalty box. Mikael Doka successfully converted the penalty with a right-footed shot. The strike just missed the fingertips of Redmayne.

Chaos ensued when Jack Rodwell’s yellow card for a bad foul against Theoharous was upgraded to a red following a VAR decision. Despite being a man down, the Sky Blues held their own.

Sydney FC were ready to even the score when a header from Grant found the back of the net, but Grant’s goal was disallowed after the referee ruled Gabriel Lacerda was offside in the play just moments before.

The game escalated when the Sky Blue squad went down to nine men. During a Mariners attacking sequence, Hollman had an unfortunate clash with Ronald Barcellos. Shown his second yellow for the night, Hollman was sent off with a red card.

Despite their efforts to try one last attacking set, the Sky Blues fell short 2-1.

Max Burgess in action.

Sydney FC: 1. Andrew REDMAYNE (GK), 4. Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS (9. Fabio GOMES 45’), 6. Jack RODWELL, 8. Jake GIRDWOOD-REICH (22. Max BURGESS 18’ / 15. Gabriel LACERDA 64’), 11. Robert MAK (3. Aaron GURD 84’), 12. Corey HOLLMAN, 16. Joel KING, 17. Anthony CACERES, 23. Rhyan GRANT, 26. Luke BRATTAN, 27. Hayden MATTHEWS

Unused Subs: 13. Patrick WOOD, 25. Jaiden KUCHARSKI, 20. Adam PAVLESIC (GK)

Yellow Cards: Hollman 39’

Red Cards: Rodwell 60’ / Hollman 82’

Central Coast Mariners: 20. Daniel VUKOVIC (GK), 2. Mikael DOKA, 3. Brian KALTAK, 4. Joshua NISBET, 6. Maximilien BALARD, 7. Christian THEOHAROUS (22. Ronald BARCELLOS 67’), 9. Alou KUOL (99. Ryan EDMONDSON, 76’), 15. Storm ROUX, 18. Jacob FARRELL, 23. Daniel HALL, 26. Bradley TAPP (37. Bailey BRANDTMAN 84’)

Unused Subs: 16. Harrison STEELE, 17. Jing REEC, 33. Nathan PAULL, 30. Jack WARSHAWSKY (GK)

Yellow Cards: Kuol 20’

Red Cards: None.

Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney, New South Wales 

Referee: Ben Abraham

Attendance: 13,813