So far so good for Sydney FC amidst dreaded run of games

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Sydney FC’s thrilling derby victory is their first amidst a horror run of five fixtures being played across 16 days, as the Sky Blues try to make up the majority of their league matches in time for the AFC Champions League.

Following a spirited comeback against Macarthur FC on Wednesday to claim a 2-2 draw, Sydney FC are back on the winners list after downing crosstown rivals Western Sydney Wanderers 3-2 in an enthralling derby on Saturday night.

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The victory for the Sky Blues means that they are now undefeated in the context of a fixture nightmare which began with their mid-week clash against the Bulls, as five of their seven remaining fixtures hurriedly play out over the course of two weeks in time for the mid-April start of the AFC Champions League.

Adelaide United’s 1-0 loss to Melbourne Victory on the night also elevated the Sydneysiders to fourth on the A-League Men’s ladder and above the former on goal difference alone, as the two share an identical 7-7-7 season record.

But the total number of games played tells a different story – Wellington Phoenix sit just one point behind the Reds and Sydney, albeit with three games in hand, and the three sides sitting outside the top six all stand a chance of catching up in their remaining fixtures.

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With the pressure mounting on Steve Corica to win their remaining fixtures, the Sky Blues head coach claimed that both consistency and creating the most of their chances will be the key to holding onto their spot in the top six.

“At this stage, draws are not great for us,” he said, in reference to the Macarthur game.

“(We need to) keep trying to pick up three points because that’s what is vital.

“But you know, we made a few changes tonight, a few fresh legs and I think it worked really well. And that’s the way we’re probably gonna have to do it with the amount of games and a short period of time in between games.”

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Speaking ahead of their mid-week clash with Macarthur, Corica lamented the difficulty of coping with the constant COVID-related match postponements and subsequent fixture changes being felt right across the league.

“There’s been no other season like this one,” he said.

“You’re playing every three or four days – that does take its toll on the players.

“It’s tough for them. There’s not much training in between, it’s more about recovery and getting them right for the next game. It’s definitely the hardest season by far in the A-League (Men) since I’ve been here – for 17 years now.”

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Looking at Sydney’s recent run of fixtures, however, they have had an easier run as of late after coming off the back of a busy January period.

Having played just one other mid-week fixture since February, the Sky Blues Champions League qualification left the A-Leagues caught between a rock and a hard place to determine how the remainder of their season would play out.

Ultimately, this would mean sacrificing an Easter Saturday derby at the SCG, with the push-forward to two weeks being announced on Sydney FC’s social media just nine days before the match.

The result – the lowest attended Sydney derby in history, with just 10,091 fans making their way out to Netsrata Jubilee Stadium. However, this was also the Sky Blues’ largest home crowd this season, as it was subsequently praised by Corica.

“It’s great with the derbies – you get good crowds,” he said.

“They (our fans) turned up as well. Our supporters were amazing, the Cove, it was nice to score a couple of goals off that end as well, especially for (Trent) Buhagiar.”

The Sydneysiders’ horror run continues on Wednesday with a must-win game against league leaders Melbourne City in the Victorian capital.

Feature Image Credit: Jaime Castaneda

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Jimmy Alexander
Jimmy Alexander
Covering Sydney FC for the 2021/22 A-League season. Studying a Bachelor of Sports Media (Journalism) at Charles Sturt University.

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