Quarantine is not sky blue

Anyone else stuck in their room staring at the walls? It’s time to get magically whisked away to… Parramatta!

The third Sydney derby of the season finds us watching on from behind screens as the players go at it in a closed stadium. It’s billed as the biggest game of football in the world right now. I mean, they’re not wrong. 

It’s a bit weird. 

The Wanderers kick off and immediately lose the ball. There’s early intensity but it chills and everyone kind of just… wanders around out there. Mainly I’m envious of their space. The fresh air. I remember the outdoors.

The play clusters around the middle of the field. Sydney make some runs, the Wanderers shut them down. 

Sydney haven’t been the same since Brandon O’Neill left. The midfield is a lot more patchy, and probably lacking in the relentless positivity that Branners takes to everything. They’ve certainly been leaving their shirts untucked. 

There’s action in the 35th minute when Joel King kicks the ball to Milos Ninkovic, who bears down on Kosta Barbarouses who shoots and gets saved by Daniel Lopar, who punches the ball in the direction of Adam LeFondre who’s waiting and taps the ball directly back around him and into the back of the net. Finally a Sydney goal against the Wanderers this season. 

Second half, same as the first. 

I’m trying to put my finger on what’s making this game a bit weirder than normal. It’s like watching a comedy show without a laugh track. Or knowing that an important meeting is going on behind closed doors. It doesn’t seem right that the absence of a big TIFO and some sundry jerseys should make such a difference. You can’t quantify passion but you can tell when it’s missing. 

Is there another goal here? (What is the goal here?) 

The Wanderers have been diligent in pressing and containing Sydney. They’re using their tricks: quarantining the ball amongst themselves when they’ve got it; isolating Sydney when the Sky Blues have the ball; and keeping a social distance between Sydney and the goal. 

Watching the replay makes it easy to see what went wrong. Sydney are ready to go home. They turn the ball over from an offside mistake. Bruce Kamau crosses it into the middle; Sydney don’t clear it, Cox tries his hardest to shoot and it deflects off Kwame Yeboah and bounces over Redmayne’s head. 

And that’s where it ends, 1-1 in Wanderland. Sydney haven’t beaten the Wanderers once this season and, should the Wanderers somehow make it to the finals, this could be an important psychological advantage that no other team has. 

By Kelly Simpson

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