It was the 18/19 grand final re-match at an hour no Easterner wanted. At least this time there were some more goals but unfortunately, it was history repeating itself for Perth with Grant causing all sorts of trouble and Sydney taking the win. Perth are probably left wondering what has gone so wrong between seasons.
Perth go into this game with only one win in the season so far. Not exactly the greatest title defence but if there is a game you were going to want to win, it was this one. Sydney were the more obvious favourites, only so far losing in the Sydney Derby, but their play against Victory was rocky (and let’s face it the Vuck suck atm) so confidence wasn’t sky high for either team. At least I got to nap during the Brisbane v Wellington game so I was awake for whatever was to come!
Early on, it was the battle of the speedsters with Grant and Ikonomidis out racing each other down the sides. Perth have not forgotten the headaches Grant caused them in the GF so every time he had the ball, it was a chorus of boos from the stadium. Sydney decided to add more reasons to those boos when, with barely 10 minutes gone, Ninkovic was tugged in the box by Castro resulting in a penalty to Sydney. Did Ninkovic milk that fall like no mans business? = Yes. Was Castro an absolute idiot for deciding to pull a shirt in the penalty box? = Also yes. Play dumb games and win dumb prizes, Castro. Le Fondre ignored the hovering rage of Fornaroli and Đulbic to calmly net the ball past Reddy and put Sydney 1-0 up.
Kilkenny looks disappointed when one of his crosses isn’t capitalised on in the 33rd minute and then is outright confused when he receives a yellow card for elbowing Brattan in the face. Despite the joy or outrage (Sydney or Perth) on twitter, I didn’t get it. To me it looked like Brattan ran into the swinging arm of Kilkenny and like I said to Castro, play stupid games and win stupid prizes, Brattan. But apparently the fourth official saw it differently and Kilkenny gets the cheese whilst most of Australia tries to work out how to support either of these players (I still dislike you, Brattan!).
Perth continue their attack – Chianese and Ikonomidis playing some beautiful forward football and Fornaroli being denied twice right in the box. Credit to Wilkinson here for never giving up. But the relentless attack was too much for Sydney as Kilkenny lobs it to Chianese who heads it to Fornaroli who finally gets to hit the back of the net. Right before the break too so it is now game on!
HT = 1-1.
Perth are riding the high into the second half but some truly odd decision making took place with a 50th minute Perth free kick taking out some of their gusto and Barbarouses outruns everyone to score in the 57th. Was it offside? VAR said no but fark do I hope they had a better camera angle than the one shown on Foxtel. It was close and I am definitely over the offside by millimetres debate. Barbarouses still had a lot of work to do and Perth’s defence was caught out with the run. I also saw the twitter debate about whether it was an own goal by Đulbic and this mornings re-read of the stats shows it was awarded as an OG. I wonder if that is why the potential offside did not matter. Barba or Đulbic make it 2-1 for Sydney.
Perth were again on the backfoot and Reddy was clearly frustrated, trying to rugby tackle the ball away from Le Fondre. How he did not receive a yellow here is beyond me as that was a truly bizarre scenario. Reddy’s frustrations were only going to get worse however when in the 64th minute Sydney demonstrated their masterclass through Barbarouses to Grant to Ninkovic who gets a goal. 3-1 to Sydney.
Sydney start to relax a little too early here and with still 20 minutes to go, Perth are throwing everything they can to try pass Redmayne. Unfortunately, Meredith’s shot has no power and Franjic probably should have passed it. Harold is a welcome substitution and brings some much needed pace to the Perth front line and in the 82nd minute we thought we had the brace for Bruno and a fight to the finish. It is a familiar strike to his first goal and the Perth fans are going nuts until another drawn out VAR decision goes against Perth. The camera angles here are plentiful and with the goal chalked off, the game loses its steam.
Perth are defeated, Sydney are back to taking It easy, and the fans half-heartedly remember they hate Grant and boo him once more. In extra time, Redmayne saves a shot and decides to have a small squat workout before the full-time whistle is blown. VARdney FC take the three points and Perth, well they are left wanting. The disappointment on Popovic’s face was clear and you must wonder how they are going to perform in the upcoming AFC Champions League.