It was No Pirlo, No Party for Avondale FC, eventually going down 4-2 to A-League giants Sydney FC in extra time in their FFA Cup Quarter Final Clash at ABD Stadium.
Avondale entered the clash in-form, it what could arguably be toted as the biggest week in the club’s history. Having moved up 5 divisions in the past 6 seasons, Avondale presented fresh from their thrilling extra-time victory against Bentleigh Greens in their NPL semi-final 5 days earlier with not so fresh legs to face a new-look SFC side for 2018- new phone, who dis?
Sydney’s reception was as frosty as the soaked figures of Simon Hill and Scott Miller from their makeshift scaffolding vantage point, as the 1,500 strong crowd willed Avondale into a decent start for the first ten minutes of play. Joining local fans in the stands was Avondale Coach/Bespoke shoemaker-by-day Anthony Barbieri, who received a 3-game touchline ban following a bit of biff in the NPL semi-final match the week earlier.
Sydney soon opened up Avondale’s back four, who were playing particularly high up the field. A warning shot was fired in the 11th as former Central Coast Mariner striker Trent Buhagiar clipped the crossbar, with the kill-shot only coming 6 minutes later with Buhagiar pulling the trigger following a cross from debutant Le Fondre to give Sydney the opener for the first time in the FFA Cup this year. Avondale captain Ross Archibald appeared to not be playing to the whistle, dropping back thinking Le Fondre was offside and who could blame him as Le Fondre is already making a good case for becoming the new off-side Archie of the A-league.
Buhagier and Le Fondre appeared to have found their soulmates in each other, with another Le Fondre cross finding the feet of Buhagier in the 28th to make it 2-0. The give and take new relationship means Le Fondre allowing the words “Buhagier” and “in-form” to be in the same sentence, and Buhagier as leading striker allowing Le Fondre to remain on-side for at least 5 percent of the match.
It was at this point that the game became slightly stale as the wonder white material that formed Sydney’s jerseys withstood the pouring rain and not a single ab could be sighted. The TLL group chat turned their attention towards rating player’s…talents between the two quarter-finals being played, with the most shocking development not being the fact Rhyan Grant thinks a mullet is an okay thing to do in 2018, but that someone on this earth has labelled Luke Brattan a “babe”.
The half-time whistle could not have come fast enough for Avondale, with a further blow coming at the break as Avondale’s number 1 keeper Chris Oldfield was subbed, complaining of a hamstring injury and placing him in serious doubt for this weekend’s NPL final against Heidelberg United.
After what can only be presumed to be one hell of a halftime spray, Avondale’s Liam Boland quickly restored the hopes of all underdog supporters by opening Avondale’s scoring account in the 56th. It was what the soaked Avondale faithful needed as an instant buzz was felt around ABD stadium following the PA announcer’s best “goooaaaallllll” war cry followed by an ominous warning; “We’re coming for you Sydney”. And coming for you they did as the comeback kings levelled at the 61st minute thanks again to Boland AKA Pirlo in disguise.
With a major switch of momentum, Avondale continued to dominate play in the second in what became a cliff hanger of a cup tie, but neither side could come out on top at the end of regulation time. For the second time in this FFA Cup, we were all in for the long haul and
going to extra time, but without Michael Zullo who could not make the distance after failing a groin test (insert innuendo here).
Extra-time opened with a typical Shaun “must give a card” Evans manoeuvre, not letting the fact he was fourth official stop him from influencing the showing of a card. Evans instructed Barreiro of a Sydney technical area infringement, with Ufuk Talay on the receiving end of a yellow for being the second member standing in the area. The spectacle could only be giving the FFA more ideas to amp up game interest, perhaps by playing Kendrik Lamar’s “sit down, be humble” every time a member of coaching staff gets to their feet?
As time ticked over, the heavy legs of Avondale could be felt by all and Sydney were there to capitalise. The 105th saw Ninkovic find the back of the net with a clinical finish, and Le Fondre scored the all-important goal on debut in the 114th to seal the deal for a Sydney Derby semi-final.
Despite the loss, we know this is not the end of Avondale’s success. Not only will Avondale be attempting to defeat Heidelberg FC this weekend following 240 minutes of football in the last week, but key players may also be making A-league appearances this season with Elvis Kamsoba believed to be trialling for Victory and Kaine Sheppard having already signed for the Jets. And unfortunately, Sydney will continue to make A-league appearances too 😛
Featured Image from Sydney FC Twitter page.
By Hayley Leedham