I’m in Sydney where it’s approaching forty degrees. Back home in Cooma my friends and immediate family have been on high alert from the bushfires, protecting their homes and staying close to packed cars, should they need to leave. At Kogarah the Cove is in good voice, the drinks breaks have been decided, and it all feels kind of muted. Sydney will play Adelaide, a spectacle with slightly less meaning on a day when so much news has made everything become Too Much. The whistle blows.
Football is weird at a time like this.
Adelaide takes a lively start and George Blackwood has half a chance at goal in the first forty five seconds, and a further corner is also on target. The first five minutes pass with Sydney stringing passes together and doing clever kicks, to find Adelaide who chip the ball back closer to their goal to keep testing Sydney keeper Andrew Redmayne. It’s too hot to be constantly going to ground so maybe they’re tiring him out early. George Blackwood chips the ball into the back of Redmayne’s net but the whistle indicates an earlier push, so it’s null and void.
It’s so good to see Sydney challenged by a patient Adelaide team. The Reds’ lateral play is strong. Sydney’s most credible first chance comes from Kosta Barbarouses who gets wrong footed near Adelaide keeper Paul Izzo’s goal, and Adelaide defends it right to their half, feeding it to Riley McGree who shoots it toward Redmayne, not quite toward the sky but definitely the horizon.
A close up of Sydney’s Joel King having a breather as he plots his throw in highlights how ferocious the heat is. Luke Brattan pummels the ball toward goal from close range and Alexander Baumjohann attempts to follow it up with the rebound but the Reds are still proving impenetrable.
Brave defending from Izzo leaves the net wide open for a string of Sydney attackers to try push the ball through but it finally rebounds out of play. The resulting corner taken by Alexander Baumjohann finds Harry Van Der Saag’s head, gets saved by Izzo, rebounds to Paulo Retre and he floors it into goal with his right foot, his third A-League goal ever.
Did you have Retre as your first goal scorer? Are you buying a house with your winnings now?
Football is weird during times like this.
After the first drinks break, play resumes with a Ryan Strain throw.
Baumjohann has the ball and he beats an Adelaide defender, streams it to Kosta Barbarouses, who plays it behind him into the ready feet of Paulo Retre who confidently sends it into the goal, his fourth A-League goal ever.
Did you have Retre as netting a brace? Are you buying a small island with your winnings now?
Sydney’s been activated and has Adelaide on the back foot until a free kick from James Troisi in the 38th minute gets Riley McGree in a sweet spot, who guides it to the back of the net and Adelaide get one back.
The Reds miss a chance at an open goal early in the second half, while Sydney miss a sitter late, but the second half is much more tepid than the first. It’s still hot, and the subs and the yellow cards start coming around the 65th minute mark, and ultimately the first half is what decided the game.
From here Sydney has a month of relatively easy fixtures, should current form continue across the league, which could see them flatline into the first round of the AFC. Adelaide will be more challenged by the competition leaders. What we’ve seen for the past couple of weeks is early pressure against Sydney bear fruit for their opponents, either keeping them goalless or getting early goals against them.
It’s been a weird weekend and hard to feel like we’re not just playing football as Rome burns. But in the words of the great Eric Cantona, I love football. Thank you.
By Kelly Simpson