Sydney scores vital win in SFS clash wth Wellington

A baby-faced Sydney FC has shown the future is in good hands, claiming a plucky 1-0 over Wellington Phoenix at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday to keep its faint finals hopes alive.

A baby-faced Sydney FC has shown the future is in good hands, claiming a plucky 1-0 over Wellington Phoenix at the Sydney Football Stadium on Sunday to keep its faint finals hopes alive.

Wellington came with hopes of snaring a top-four berth, but was out-enthused by a Sky Blues outfit that included six Youth League players in the squad.

“We-ve seen them on the training park and we-ve known what they can do and it was just a matter of if they could do it in front of ten, eleven thousand people,” said stand-in skipper, Terry McFlynn. “I think as you-ve seen tonight all of them stepped up.”

The match looked headed for a scoreless stalemate, but Sydney-s loyal fans got to celebrate on 85 minutes when 17-year-old rookie Kofi Danning lived his dream by calmly poking the ball past Glen Moss to seal the win with his first ever Hyundai A-League goal.

John Kosmina-s new-look squad resembled a nursery bursting with the country-s brightest prospects as he opted for youth and offense to brighten his side-s campaign.

Zach Cairncross, making his debut at centre-half, joined Youth team graduates Adam Biddle, Rhyan Grant and Brendan Gan in a 4-3-3 starting formation, where the energetic Terry McFlynn donned the captain-s arm band for the first time with Steve Corica on the bench.

Wellington gave Sydney an early scare when Ivan Necevski had to throw himself bravely into a scramble in the box, but overall, it was a subdued opening 20 minutes as both sides were guilty of a sloppy start.

It might-ve been a listless opening, but passions flared when Adam Biddle and then Alex Brosque went down with head knocks.

It added feeling to the contest, which finally came to life on 24 minutes when McFlynn got a tad cheeky and found the back of the net – with his fist.

The incident came after Phoenix keeper Glen Moss fumbled a hopeful Stu Musialik drive. The Northern Irishman went up with Moss to win the rebound, but referee Ben Williams caught McFlynn in the act and rewarded him with a yellow card for his efforts.

The moment of the half came after Andrew Durante tangled with Bridge on 33 minutes, giving away a free kick in Shannon Cole territory.

The wide-man, who struggled through the stanza with a hip problem, stepped up to the plate to fire an exquisite 25 metre curling effort, but Moss was up to the challenge, producing one of the saves of the season as he clawed the strike out of the top corner.

Both teams woke from their slumber to carve a string of chances to end the half, but neither side could polish off their play with a goal.

The normally lethal Shane Smeltz overran a Troy Hearfield square ball with a goal beckoning, before Bertos blasted over when he should-ve at least forced a save.

Biddle then backed himself and bamboozled Tony Lochhead with his footwork and slid the ball across the face of goal, but Alex Brosque couldn-t reach the pass.

Both sides showed positive intent in the second half but neither could quite conjure a clear cut chance. Daniel and McFlynn both blasted shots over the bar, Hearfield spliced one wide, Cole had a free-kick deflected for a corner and Bridge had an effort shut down by desperate, scrambling Kiwi defence.

Home-town favourite Corica and 17-year-old school-boy Danning were injected into the contest and immediately raised the tempo of the clash.

Wellington then made life hard for itself as Hearfield was sent packing by Ben Williams with 25 left on the clock. He paid the price for the constant niggle in the contest, after he naively shadowed to head-but Brosque right under the referee-s nose.

To the Phoenix-s credit they still forced Sydney-s defence to scramble, despite being a man down, and while it looked unconvincing at times, it did the job.

Cairncross was composed and solid on debut, while Rhyan Grant found his feet and grew in confidence as the game went on. Both defenders earned their coach-s praise after the match.

It looked as though both sides would huff and puff without having the quality to blow the house down. That was until the 85th minute when the move of the match led to Danning-s winner, which had everyone in the crowd grinning like the spirited youngster.

Danning received the ball out on the left, before cutting inside and squaring the ball to Corica. The club-captain played a direct ball into Brosque-s feet – who held off a defender on his back to flick the ball onto a flying Danning, who showed great poise to toe poke it past Moss.

The Sky Blues head to Queensland next week sitting five points adrift of the finals with two matches to play. Two wins and favourable results elsewhere could still see Sydney sneak into the finals.

“We win next week and we win the week after we-ve got 29-points,” said Sydney coach, John Kosmina after the match. “Queensland have got three to go and they might lost three and Central Coast have got Adelaide and Melbourne, so anything-s possible.”

Match Detail

Sydney FC 1 (Kofi Danning 85-)
Wellington Phoenix 0

Sydney FC: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (gk), 2. Iain FYFE, 8. Stuart MUSIALIK, 12. Shannon COLE, 14. Alex BROSQUE, 15. Terry McFLYNN (c) (10. Steve CORICA 76-), 19. Mark BRIDGE (16. Christopher PAYNE 82-), 21. Adam BIDDLE (35. Kofi DANNING 63-), 32. Brendan GAN, 34. Rhyan GRANT, 36. Zach CAIRNCROSS.

Substitute not used: Clint BOLTON (gk).

Yellow Cards: Terry McFlynn 24-, Alex Brosque 64- .
Red Cards: nil.
Goals: Kofi Danning 85-.

Wellington Phoenix: 20. Glen MOSS (gk), 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4. Jonathan McKAIN, 5. Karl DODD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7, Leo BERTOS, 9. Shane SMELTZ, 10. Michael FERRANTE (2. Jeremy CHRISTIE 80-), 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 22. Andrew DURANTE (46- 11. Daniel CORTES), 25. Emmanuel MUSCAT.

Substitutes not used: 1. Mark PASTON (gk), 15. Adam KWASNIK.

Yellow Cards: Michael Ferrante 32-, Jon McKain 37-, Emmanuel Muscat 90+3-.
Red Cards: Troy Hearfield 64-.
Goals: nil.

Referee: Ben Williams.
Crowd: 9,605 at the Sydney Football Stadium.