Marconi defeated by cross city rivals Sydney United

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Arriving at Marconi Stadium is a surreal experience. At the gate you’re greeted in Italian, the ladies at the ticket gate are all reading Italian newspapers, the older men are sitting on one side all smoking cigars and talking about the good ol’ days of Marconi. The moment any person walks through the gates at Marconi Stadium, everything else seems irrelevant and football is all that really matters.

In the past Marconi has become memorable for using ‘home grown’ players who have worked their way up the youth and reserve system. Keith Shevlin being a notable inclusion in the starting side against Sydney United. After a 3-1 win over Bankstown City, Marconi headed into this derby with expectations of getting the three points on offer.

Sydney United has always been a strong side in the Premier League, narrowly missing out on a grand final appearance in the 2009 and 2010 seasons. After the off seasons recruiting of former A-League stars Mark Rudan and Ufuk Talay, as well as the linking up the Bosnar brothers Ivo and Milan, United fans saw a 2-2 draw at home last week against Manly United.

Marconi’s head coach Luke Casserly lined up a solid 4-2-3-1 structure which looked more like a 4-2-4 when attacking. This was contrasted against Jean-Pauls De Marigny’s United who set up his side a balanced 4-3-3.

From the moment the referee blew the whistle for the start of the match this was always going to be the cliché derby – rough tackles, passionate and one goal to separate the sides. Marconi started straight on the attack, an early opportunity for Matthew Mayora going wide and high not troubling the United ‘keeper, Vedran Janjetovic.

By the fifth minute of the match, Marconi’s bright start started to fade away. Sydney United were attacking the ball with more menace into challenges and were hungrier in front of goal. This was further acknowledged through a lapse of concentration by the Marconi defence as midfield man Steve Hayes put in a delightful cross which former Melbourne Heart player Ante Tomic put away.

This was the goal which was going to haunt Marconi for the rest of the match.

By the tenth minute, any moment Marconi were even thinking about going close to the ball two United players would close him down. It was this tactic which proved the difference on what was a below par pitch. Marconi’s failure to go to the ball forced their reliance on a ‘chip and chase’ or long ball style of football.

Out of desperation for a goal as well as frustration for missing a number of early chances Mayora dived in on United’s ‘keeper for a ball which he had every right to go in for. This spurred a classic ‘push and shove’ between the two sides which saw Mayora earn himself a yellow card for his actions.

When the referee called for half time things were only getting stronger for the side in red, as for the squad in blue one of the few positives had been John Chronopoulos in goals who proved to be quick off his line with some good reflexes.

The second half didn’t see much change in the tactics of either coach; Marconi maintaining a style of football which looked like they might get a goal in the dying minutes if they were lucky and United stuck to a strong midfield who were out to control the match.

Almost instantly after the commencement of the second half United forward Luka Glavas was in on goal and had a chance to double his side’s lead but the quick movement of Marconi’s ‘keeper meant that the Stallions still had 40 minutes to get the equaliser.

United had a number of other chances to extend their lead, none of which they converted. First Steve Hayes provided a lovely through-ball for Ben Vidaic who in the split second of deciding whether to pass the ball across the face of goal or to take the shot himself Marconi defender Adel Eljamel was able to slide in and clear the ball from danger. The other major opportunity which fell United’s way was a close and probably correct call of offside against Elsid Barkhousir after Luka Glavas put the ball across the face of goal.

Ufuk Talay did manage to get himself a solid ten minutes on the park replacing the goal scorer Ante Tomic. Talay’s A-League class was shown instantly; being deployed at the base of the midfield for United his instructions were clear – don’t let Marconi equalise. To be fair Talay did his job well and with the couple of minutes in this game, we might even get to see him start a match in the coming weeks.

The final whistle went and United let out a sigh of relief.

Final Score:
Marconi Stallions 0 – Sydney United 1 (Ante Tomic 5′)

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