Sydney FC’s young-guns will have to wait at least one more week to secure the inaugural National Youth League minor premiership and their place in the season decider, after falling to a 3-2 defeat on Sunday afternoon at Cromer Park against a Melbourne Victory side stacked with senior stars.
Sydney FC-s young-guns will have to wait at least one more week to secure the inaugural National Youth League minor premiership and their place in the season decider, after falling to a 3-2 defeat on Sunday afternoon at Cromer Park against a Melbourne Victory side stacked with senior stars.
Melbourne-s Nathan Elasi starred with a brace of first-half goals, and the home side couldn-t peg back a 3-0 deficit despite finishing the stronger of the two teams in an entertaining and open affair.
The match might have been youth league by name, but both sides featured a roll call of Hyundai A-League talent on their team lists for Sydney-s final home outing of the season.
Melbourne, bolstered by Leigh Broxham, Grant Brebner and Jose Luis Lopez in midfield, showed signs of their creative wares early, with Chris Triantis blocking a Dimitri Hatzikostas effort after 3 minutes, before Elasi found the side netting on the next attack.
The talent on the park went hell for leather from the opening whistle. Boosted by a boisterous Cromer Park crowd, Chris Payne and Triantis both launched low, driving strikes that shaved Melbourne-s right upright all before the 10 minute mark.
The tempo eased off a bit in the hot conditions as both sides fought it out in midfield. While Mitchell Langerack was called into action to hold a sharp Chris Payne drive after 23 minutes, the Victory looked threatening with lively movement across the park.
Broxham prized the Sky Blues open with an intelligent switch to Elasi, who caught the defenders on their heels – getting in behind and calmly slot the ball past the oncoming Vedran Janjetovic.
Elasi then stunned the home crowd with a glorious strike right on the stroke of half-time. Michael Thwaite chested the ball into the nimble youngster-s path, from which he cleverly made room for himself before launching a curling left foot effort past a fully stretched Janjetovic.
Robbie Mileski signalled the junior Blues- second-half intent with an early snapshot, but Melbourne-s lead was stretched with after 51 minutes with a soft goal that came out of nothing.
Hatzikostas latched onto a hopeful ball into the box from midfield before brushing Anthony Golec aside to tuck away the eventual winner.
Melbourne had made the most of its chances, but Sydney still launched a spirited rearguard action over the last hour.
On their return to the junior Blues- side, Rhyan Grant and Brendan Gan orchestrated Sydney-s opening goal just before the hour; their one-touch interchange unlocking the Victory defence for Payne to calmly side-foot past Langerack.
The hosts were able to dictate the tempo for the first time in the match, and as it increased, so did their chances, and the Sky Blues were given a lifeline when Langerack fumbled Gan-s straight drive through his legs for Sydney-s second.
Despite Kofi Danning and Matthew Hall-s energy in the dying stages, the league leaders couldn-t really test the Melbourne custodian with any further clear cut chances, meaning it was a disappointing reunion for the cream of Sydney-s youth stars.
Despite suffering their third defeat of the season, Steve O-Connor-s young charges can secure top spot on the table and their place in the Grand Final when they head to Adamstown Oval to play Newcastle next Saturday evening at 5pm.
Sydney FC 2 (Payne 58-, Gan 66-)
Melbourne Victory 3 (Elasi 36-/45-, Hatzikostas 51-)
Sydney FC: 20. Vedran JANJETOVIC (gk), 2. Rhyan GRANT, 3. Matt JURMAN, 4. Chris TRIANTIS (c), 6.Chris PAYNE, 7.Robbie MILESKI (9. Matthew Hall 53-), 8. Anthony GOLEC (12. Ibrahim HAYDAR 53-), 10. Zach CAIRNCROSS (5. Mitchell PRENTICE (OA) 46-), 11. Kofi DANNING, 14. Brendan GAN, 17. Luke AUSTIN.
Substitutes not used: nil.
Yellow Cards: Brendan Gan 37-, Matt Jurman 82-.
Red Cards: nil.
Goals: Chris Payne 58-, Brendan Gan 66-.
Melbourne Victory: 1.Mitchell LANGERAK (gk), 2. Jose Luis LOPEZ (OA), 3. Michael THWAITE (OA), 4. Matthew FOSCHINI, 6. Cameron DRAKE, 8. Evan BERGER (5. Fabio Di LIZIA 58-), 9. Matthew THEODORE, 10. Nathan ELASI, 11. Dimitri HATZIKOSTAS, 13. Leigh BROXHAM (7. Aziz BEHICH 58-), 14. Grant BREBNER (OA).
Substitutes not used: nil.
Yellow Cards: Jose Luis Lopez 17-, Dimitri Hatzikostas 88-, Cameron Drake 45+3-.
Red Cards: nil.
Goals: Nathan Elasi 36-, 45-, Dimitri Hatzikostas 51-.
Referee: Matthew Gillett.