Sydney FC off to the Big Dance after triumph in the Big Blue

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It’s the Dub semi-finals time and the Victory were hosting Sydney FC at Epping Stadium, looking to repeat their 3-1 win against the Sky Blues from the last game of the regular season and book their third Grand Final spot. The visitors however, are no strangers to playing finals football having played six grand finals and winning three of them.

It was going to be a tough match and heading into the match it was difficult to pick who would get the job done. 

The Vuck started off the livelier of the two sides, after Haley Hanson’s effort in the 3rd minute when wide and then Tats Dowie wasn’t able to find Melina Ayres with a cross. The 11th saw Sydney’s keeper Aubrey Bledsloe having to make her first save following Annalie Longo’s shot inside the area.

But as we know in football, the dominating side doesn’t always reap the rewards and in this case it was true in the 14th when an unmarked (seriously Victory, where were you looking?!) Veronica Latsko snuck her way into the box, on the end of a beautiful ball from Ally Green and pretty much walked the ball into the net. (Ok, it was a decent shot resulting from “let’s not pay attention” defending).

1-0 for Sydney FC and I felt my heart break just a little, the Sky Blues always seems to grind out results when needed and I was already stressed.

Casey Dumont was forced to make a save from Huerta’s shot a few minutes later and I was praying to every football god, holy spirit, higher power etc. That we still had hope to find the result and we weren’t about to get demolished on the scoreboard.

It was the Vuck who were looking the more dominant of the two sides and I know they have the talent led by joint-fourth (Yep, ICYMI) Golden Boot winner and captain Tats Dowie, the game wasn’t over just yet.

Veronica Latsko received treatment for a head knock in the 36th, and after passing the concussion test was good to continue for the visitors and play was resumed.

I was counting down the minutes until half-time knowing that Hopkins would be able to encourage the Vuck to keep piling on the pressure on Sydney’s defence and get themselves back into the match in the second.

Onto the second half and the Vuck were throwing the kitchen sink at Sydney with shots by Amy Jackson in the 53rd, Hanson and Longo in the 57th again to avail. They tried again in the 62nd and 66th via Ayres and Dowie STILL nothing, and the nerves were really kicking in now. The hosts were dominating in possession, pressure in the attacking third but just couldn’t find the back of the net.

Just after Dowie’s shot Angie Beard was shown a yellow for a supposed challenge on Sofia Huerta and at first it didn’t look like a yellow, with the benefit of a replay it definitely wasn’t as Sofia had stepped on the ball.
I know I’m about to sound like the stereotype of Victory fans complaining about the referees when results aren’t going their way but….

If neutral members of “Sokkah Twitter” were also starting to question some of the decisions, I feel like it wasn’t a case of complaining for the sake of it. Ok back to the football…

Remy Siemsen decided it was time to really test my nerves (and heart health) after a miss in the 77th. If we went 2-0 down at this point it was definitely game and season over, I was not emotionally ready.

Darian Jenkins sent her shot over in the 90th and with it so went the Vuck’s Grand Final dreams. Three minutes of stoppage time was enough time for Emily Menges to get a booking, not enough time for an equaliser in a game where it was almost cruel that Victory couldn’t score after being the better of the two sides. 

So that’s another Dub season done and dusted for my girls in navy blue, and two Big Blue losses (one for the A-League side) and the Semi in the space of a week was really not good for my emotional wellbeing.

I am going to go cry in the corner now and hope the Wanderers can get the job done against City to setup a Sydney Derby Grand Final. 

By Jakie Manevski

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