Adelaide and Sydney tough out tense draw

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Some controversial officiating and a smorgasbord of missed chances have punctuated Adelaide United’s home tie against Sydney FC on Friday night, as both teams played out a 0-0 draw in front of 16,015 fans.

Under a warm evening sun, Sydney started the match without captain Alex Brosque, who failed a fitness test in the build-up after rolling his ankle in the Sky Blues’ win against Central Coast in round four. He was replaced by 19-year-old attacking midfielder Christopher Naumoff.

After a stagnant opening half an hour, the game sprung in to life when Marcelo Carrusca’s free kick from near the corner post swirled in and hit the woodwork. Just moments later, another Carrusca free kick resulted in a goal mouth scramble, as Awer Mabil’s shot from the far post was blocked on the line.

At the other end, Sydney was able to get one-on-one with United gloveman Eugene Galekovic on a number of occasions, but was denied by some last ditch defending from the Reds.

However, the best chance of the first half went to Sergio Cirio; the lethal marksman managed to clear all of Sydney’s defenders from a set piece and was just a few feet from goal when he slid it under Sydney’s keeper Vedran Janjetovic, only to be denied by the post.

In between these chances, though, both teams played erroneous football as the players seemed to find their opponents as much as they did their own team mates.

Adelaide started the second half with in-form striker Bruce Djite back in the rooms, with a reported quad injury sidelining the number 11. Cirio moved up front for the reds, but it couldn’t change their fortunes as they regularly put the ball wide of the Sydney net.

The second half’s best went to the visitors, as Marc Janko hit the post from a Nikola Petcovic free kick. The ball was played to the far post and Janko timed his run perfectly, but could only find woodwork having knocked it under Galekovic.

Just prior to the attack, controversy reigned supreme as Petkovic went to take the free kick prior to referee Alan Miliner’s whistle. When his long ball went over Galekovic and into the back of the net and the Sky Blues thought they were up – that was until Miliner called the ball back and forced him to take the kick again, despite Sydney’s heavy protesting.

This wasn’t Miliner’s only moment in the spotlight, as he turned down Sydney’s strong appeals for a penalty in the first half. The visitors alleged that Craig Goodwin handled the ball in front of goal, but the referee was having none of it, and allowed play to go on.

Finally, both teams had tested their opposing defences in the dying minutes, as a Sydney free kick took a head and went narrowly over the bar, and then Carusca couldn’t connect with a low cross from substitute Bruce Kamau for Adelaide.

Despite Adelaide’s statistical dominance, the hosts were unable to get one past Vedran Janjetovic’s gloves, the keeper putting in a sterling performance during the tense struggle.

After the game, Adelaide coach Josep Gombau lamented his teams missed chances, but, as ever, was optimistic in his assessment of things.

“I think we played some very good football, and so did Sydney,” Gombau said.

“The score is fare, because it’s nil-nil, and this game is about scoring goals.

“We hit the post, they hit the post… but I am not worried, because playing like this, even though we missed ten chances, on another day we would have scored.”

Meanwhile, Sydney FC’s boss Graham Arnold rued the way his team played, but acknowledged that taking a point away from home is still a good result.

“I said to the boys, ‘it’s not our job to entertain away from home’, and if you pick up a point every time you go away from home, then you’ve got to be happy,” Arnold said.

He also lamented the way the match was officiated, saying that there were two errors that cost his side dearly.

“The boys said that with Petkovic’s [disallowed goal] that he [the referee] pointed for it to be a goal, but when the Adelaide players rushed to him he changed his mind.

“Goodwin’s was definitely a hand ball, but they had their chances as well, so I’m happy to go home with a point.”

The result leaves Sydney perched on top of the ladder, ahead of Adelaide on goal difference, but both Perth and Melbourne can take the lead if they win their games this weekend.

Adelaide will take on Central Coast Mariners on Wednesday night in the FFA Cup Semi-Final and then Wellington in round 6 of the A-League next Saturday, while Sydney hosts Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.

Adelaide United starting XI: 1. Eugene Galekovic (GK) (C), 3. Nigel Boogaard, 5. Osama Malik, 8. Isaias, 9. Sergio Cirio, 10. Marcelo Carrusca, 11. Bruce Djite (off 45’), 16. Craig Goodwin, 17. Awer Mabil (off 82’), 18. James Jeggo, 21. Tarek Elrich

Adelaide United substitutes: 2. Michael Marrone (on 45’), 4. Dylan McGowan, 24. Bruce Kamau (on 82’), 30. John Hall (GK), 32. Nathan Konstandopoulos

Sydney FC starting XI: 2. Sebastian Ryall (off 88’), 3. Sasa Ognenovski, 6. Nikola Petkovic (C), 7. Corey Gameiro (off 73’), 8. Milos Dimitrijevic, 11. Bernie Ibini-Isei, 13. Christopher Naumoff (off 62’), 17. Terry Antonis, 20. Vedran Janjetovic (GK), 21. Marc Janko, 22. Ali Abbas

Sydney FC substitutes: 1. Ivan Necevski (GK), 4. Predrag Bojic (on 88’), 9. Shane Smeltz (on 73’), 16. Alexander Gersbach (on 62’), 19. Nick Carle

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