Twas the Saturday before Christmas and the Ufuk Derby didn’t disappoint. A sloppy Sydney FC side, an aggressive Phoenix and a Yellow Fever drinking until all hours of the night.
An early kick off (2:45pm AEDT) which I completely forgot about, made me pray for an exciting game as I cut my Christmas shopping short. I, unlike Sydney FC fans as of 7pm last night, was not disappointed. What a game. End to end stuff at times and without the Sky Blue Lord and Saviour until the 55th minute which my Serbian mother continued to remind me he is out due to his calf issue. I guess it takes Sydney re-signing a sensational Serbian player for my mum to know more about their number 10 than I do.
Sydney FC were the first to score amidst Wellington Phoenix’s strong start. Is it going to be one of those games we all thought. New Zealand’s international snake, Kosta Barbarouses set up an Adam Le Fondre goal with a cute chip over the defence. Marinovic and DeVere with less communication than Michelle and Chrissi on Derby Day and Le Fondre finds the smallest yet the easiest of gaps for him to tap it in with his right foot.
Thankfully for those who’ve spent the day drinking on the #12PubsOfLochhead, Reno Piscopo found his first goal in Phoenix colours in the 25th minute. David makes a Ballsy run, beating two defenders, somehow finding an approaching and unmarked Piscopo across the face of goal who brings it home.
Sydney start to learn why you can’t underestimate the Nix this season as Sydney completely Ufuk their lead. Our favourite Mexican, Ulises Davila, bolted into the area and away from any men in sky blue to make it 2-1 to the Nix. A keen eye from Piscopo who can see Davila coming fast like word vomit on a first date, Ulises just can’t help but to smash it into the back of the net.
Milos Ninkovic is brought on in the 55th and my mother and every Sydney FC fan squeal. Surprise surprise, things start to happen for the boys in sky blue. Luke Brattan standing over a dead ball turned into dead silence from the crowd. Stephen Taylor who from recent reports rarely scores on his own, was unfortunate to be that guy on the end of the ball heading towards goal. The ball somehow fell into a sea of yellow after a Barbarouses touch and poor Taylor tries to adjust his positioning and the direction of the ball as quickly as possible, but was unable to do so and Sydney equalise.
We all thought it was the Nix’s day in the 70th when Cacace sent in a ball to the area. We were quickly advised it was not in fact the Nix’s day. Davila directly on goal, about two foot long subs away from Redmayne and failed to tap it in by sending it wide.
Hilariously (for me and other neutrals) Chris Beath blew the full time whistle during a VAR intervention which is the weirdest thing I have seen in modern football. Overall Sydney’s defence wasn’t great and without their midfield maestro for a majority of the game, Sydney were lucky to head home over the Tasman Sea with a point. Wellington will be kicking themselves after conceding an own goal and losing their lead after what was a fantastic performance.
By Rose Valente
Featured image by Getty Images