Jack Rodwell key as Sydney FC fine-tune defence

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Sydney FC turned over a new leaf in their New Year’s Day fixture against Newcastle Jets, coming away as 2-0 winners.

It has been a rocky start to the campaign for both sides, with consistent results coming few and far between. Newcastle’s last performance against Adelaide United made it seem as if they had turned a corner, however it was Sydney that had all of the joy on Sunday.

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In control from the first whistle, Sydney FC sat off Newcastle and allowed them to have the majority of the possession in the game. This played into their hands, as they broke quickly in attack and made space behind Jet’s midfield once they were committed in attempting to go forward.

It would’ve looked like Sydney were a completely revamped team that had undergone numerous tactical tweaks to sure up the defence, when in reality it can be put down to a simple change.

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The re-introduction of new signing Jack Rodwell had an instant impact on the team’s ability as a unit to keep Newcastle at bay.

Having only played 45 minutes before the round 10 fixture after being kept out by injury, Rodwell contributed straight away in what was Sydney’s best defensive effort of the year.

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Sydney manager Steve Corica will hope that he can stay fit for the rest of the season in a bid to steady the ship at the back and continue making a climb up the table.

“Very pleased to start the new year with three points and a clean sheet, that’s the most important thing for me.” Corica said.

It is an unusually late round in the season to record a first clean sheet for the Sydney side, but with Rodwell finally having the chance to get some more minutes under his belt, it would’ve been a great sight to see for Corica regardless.

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He had plenty of praise for Rodwell after his seamless return to the side.

“He’s a big part of the defence, and we’ve missed him all season so far,” he said.

“He’s aggressive, he’s quick, but he really has a great touch on the ball as well and he can build-up.”

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The renewed defensive performance from the squad played a part in both of the goals that Sydney scored, coming from soaking up pressure for long periods before capitalising efficiently when gaining back possession.

“The plan worked. They like to get numbers forward and work in the back of you, we defended that really well and caught them on the counter a couple of times,” Corica said.

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Rodwell will play a key role in the side for the rest of the season, as they look to cement a finals appearance with a top six finish.

Performances will need to be more consistent, however, the league remains wide open this season due to many other teams faltering too.

Feature image credit: Jaime Castaneda

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Will Booth
Will Boothhttp://willbooth.au
Business and Sport Management student at WSU. Interest in Data analysis. Covering the Newcastle Jets ALM and ALW teams for the 2022/23 season.

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