Sydney continue reign on top of A-League ladder

Sydney FC has cemented its place at the top of the Hyundai A-League table after downing the Wellington Phoenix 3-1 at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday.

Sydney FC has cemented its place at the top of the Hyundai A-League table after downing the Wellington Phoenix 3-1 at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday.

Two goals from Mark Bridge and one from Steve Corica gave the Sky Blues a 3-0 lead at half-time before the Phoenix pulled one back late in the game through substitute Costa Barbarouses.

The early signs weren-t good for the visitors, with both midfielder Daniel Cortes and goalkeeper Mark Paston needing treatment early in the match – Paston was taken off in the eighth minute after colliding with his own defender when punching a cross away.

The Sky Blues were keen to test out Paston-s replacement Reece Crowther and it wasn-t long before the home side were in the lead. A well-worked one-two with strike partner Alex Brosque put Bridge in behind the defence and he smashed the ball past Crowther-s left upright to give Sydney a 1-0 lead.

“We knew we had to start quickly and fast, and put pressure on from the start,” captain Corica said.

“We didn-t try and sit back (after the first goal), we tried to get the football and carry on playing some good football.”

Sydney pushed forward in an effort to extend their lead as the half went on. In the 19th minute, a dangerous cross from Sun-Hwan Byun was glanced on by Brosque, but Crowther cleverly tipped the ball away from the lurking Corica to save Wellington for the moment.

In the 23rd minute, Brosque showed great pace to chase Corica-s through pass, forcing Crowther to slide the ball away.

The Phoenix tried to get back into the match but found the Sydney defence hard to breach with the new-look central defensive pairing of Sebastian Ryall and Simon Colosimo in tandem.It was Sydney who doubled the lead with Brosque again involved to set-up Corica for an easy tap-in. The former turned Wellington defender Emmanuel Muscat on left wing before firing off a low shot, which was parried by Crowther into the path of the Sky Blues skipper, who tapped the ball into the unguarded net.

Four minutes later, Brosque beat Phoenix defender Ben Sigmund for pace down the left wing, running half the pitch before unselfishly laying it off for Bridge to score his second of the night and send Sydney 3-0 up before the break.

Bridge, who was battling an illness all week leading into the match, made way for John Aloisi as the Phoenix started to mount a mini-comeback. Their efforts were rewarded when they were awarded a penalty kick on the hour mark.

Daniel Cortes made no mistake the first time from the spot, but was forced to retake the kick after referee Gerard Parsons spotted an overzealous Wellington player encroaching the area before the Brazilian struck the penalty.

The Wellington No.11 chose to go to his right with his second spot kick attempt but Bolton came up with the penalty save, his third of the season.

A host of goalscoring chances went the way of Aloisi, but the substitute was unlucky not to convert any of them. His best opportunity came when fellow substitute Brendan Gan made headway down the left side before delivering a low cross in. The ball fell to Aloisi-s left peg but his shot cannoned off the post with Crowther beaten.

Wellington finally pulled one back in the 81st minute when Barbarouses half volleyed Paul Ifill-s cross into the ground and past Bolton, but it was too little too late as the Sky Blues closed out the victory.

The win was Sydney-s fourth in its last five matches, ensuring the Sky Blues stay on top of the pile for another week. Their next match will be against Gold Coast United at Skilled Park on Saturday, 7 November.

“We need to go away from home, they (Gold Coast) have had two losses in a row so it-s going to be a very difficult game for us, but we are confident we can get some points,” Corica said of the Gold Coast match.

Match Detail

Sydney FC 3 (BRIDGE 8’/35′, CORICA 31′)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (BARBAROUSES 81′)

Sydney FC Line-up: 1. Clint BOLTON, 2. Sebastian RYALL, 4. Simon COLOSIMO, 6. Karol KISEL, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 10. Steve CORICA (c) (17. Matthew JURMAN 89′), 12. Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry McFLYNN (7. Brendan GAN 67′), 19. Mark BRIDGE (9. John Aloisi 53′), 22. Sung-Hwan BYUN.

Substitutes Not Used: 20. Ivan Necevski (gk).

Yellow Cards: 10. Steve CORICA (c) 30′, 2. Sebastian Ryall 60′, 6. Karol KISEL 71′, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK 90+.
Red Cards: Nil.
Goals: 19. Mark BRIDGE 8’/35′, 10. Steve CORICA 31′.

Wellington Phoenix Line-up: 1. Mark PRESTON (gk) (20. Reece CROWTHER (gk) 8′), 2. Emmanuel MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 6. Tim BROWN (13. Troy HEARFIELD 77′), 7. Leo BERTOS (23. Costa BARBAROUSES 64′) 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACHRE, 11 Daniel CORTES, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 22. Andrew DURANTE.

Substitutes Not Used: 14. Adrian CACERES.

Yellow Cards: 18. Ben SIGMUND 33′.
Red Cards: Nil.
Goals: 23. Costa BARBAROUSES 83′.

Referee: Gerard PARSONS.
Crowd: 10,653 at the Sydney Football Stadium.