After what felt like a lifetime since the high boot of O’Donovan found the face of Thomas, but with the pre-game light show entertainment still being all too memorable for the wrong reasons, the opening clash between AUFC and SFC marked the start of the 2018/2019 A-League season.
Not to be outdone by the FFA’s promise of match-day entertainment, AUFC upped the game day experience through the introduction of a fan’s village containing a Pimm’s tent to show the Eastern staters we can be fancy too, some food trucks to attempt to match the food flair seen at most FFA cup games featuring NPL sides, but keeping the barrels doubling as tables plain in sight to remind SFC just what we are capable of.
On paper Adelaide had named a ‘full strength extended squad’ with not a single out coming into the clash (ignoring the fact that Margush, Mileusnic, and Stamatelopoulos exist)- a phenomena AUFC fans haven’t felt in a long, long time. But as time ticked closer to that first whistle, they began dropping like flies and suddenly AUFC were striker-less again with Blackwood, Kitto and Baba all MIA. Baba was a late withdrawal with soreness…in round one following the longest off-season known to the entire world. Baba must have negotiated one hell of an Enterprise Bargaining Agreement upon signing with AUFC, inclusive of infinity sick days without due cause whilst retaining marquee wages and making me wonder why I bother hobbling to my day job when I’m permanently exhausted with the back pain of an 80 year old.
The 2018/2019 season started with no attempt to shut down the Sydney conspiracy theorists. The FFA presented up the Gillett-Beath-KGJ trifecta all wearing sky blue; more sky blue that SFC themselves who wanted to do anything to make themselves appear that they were the reigning champions in their Victory-esque kits.
On a day that started out with a forecasted 28 degrees, kick off saw fans huddled together in cool temperatures and battering down from a severe weather warning of 80km/hr winds that unfortunately meant Rhyan Grant was not going to have a good hair da….oh wait.
The first half was characterised by both sides struggling to break the other down, with neither team factoring for the wind very well. It only took six minutes for SFC captain Alex ‘can’t play a full 90’ Brosque to start his usual whinging, but for the first time without his mate Arnie doing matching “we’re so hard done by” choreography from the visitor’s bench. SFC’s new marquee man Le Fondre attempted to switch allegiances to a true- championship winning team by sprawling himself on the laps of the Adelaide bench as the ball ran out of play- a place enviable for most of us TLL ladies…because it’s cold and they have blankets, no other reason 😉
Adelaide even managed to get one of their ball-boys on the pitch to start the mind games early leading into the upcoming FFA cup final and to snag 4 percent possession as the two sides reportedly only managed 48 percent possession a piece during the first half.
And just as many fans had already left their seats to be first in line for a beer/Pimm’s at the break, Galloway hit the back of the net with a stunning strike (or was it a cross) from outside the box, catching Redmayne off his line for the home side to take the lead in the final moments of the first half.
The second half saw Sydney take their usual low-road when they’re trailing by spending a little extra time on the floor, with many AUFC fans questioning how SFC still had 11 men on
the pitch by game’s end. SFC managed to claw back the equaliser in the 78th through Le Fondre’s debut goal following a Ninkovic cross, to allow the two teams to see out the deadlock and take a point a piece.
The score line was ultimately an opportunity wasted for AUFC, who appeared to be in control for the first 70 despite Corica’s comments straight from the “how to be a SFC coach” script book that his side were unlucky not to jag the win. The draw also means Adelaide remain at the top of the table (quick, publish this before any other match is played) for round 1, and that we are in for one hell of a FFA cup final clash 10 days time.
Featured Image from Fox Football Twitter page.
By Hayley Leedham