A-League: Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC - live!

A-League: Wellington Phoenix v Sydney FC - live!

02-Jan-2021 06:41:20 | The Guardian

36 mins: Speaking of yellow cards, Sydney are handed their third of the day, this one to Caceres for mistiming a challenge in midfield against Rufer.

34 mins: Wellington take the sting out of the game with some possession in defence and midfield, but they lack a creative force in slow play and Sydney clear. Devlin, who has played on the edge all afternoon, then flies in with his studs raised at Grant on the right touchline and ends up hurting himself near the Nix dugout. Lucky to escape a booking.

32 mins: Sydney almost make it two. Brattan swings over a low, bobbling free-kick that causes havoc in the box. Marinovic pulls off a couple of instinctive reflex saves amid the scramble until the Nix eventually clear.

Sydney earn their first corner but Brattan’s delivery is headed clear, only as far as Calem Nieuwenhof who unleashes a high quality thunderbastard that scorches off his right boot and into the top corner. Unstoppable from the 19-year-old. Wooshka!

26 mins: Devlin, last season’s leading tackler in the A-League, forces a superb turnover in midfield. He feeds Sotirio on the burst, and not for the first time tonight, the forward runs quickly and predictably into a dead end. He must be a nightmare for a coach.

25 mins: Second booking for Sydney, this one to Nieuwenhof for a late challenge on Sotirio.

23 mins: And Trent Buhagiar shows them exactly why Wellington are set up as they are! After a Phoenix attack Sydney counter at breakneck speed, Buhagiar flying past DeVere on halfway like a Lamborghini overtaking a Lada at Silverstone. Unfortunately for the Sky Blues Buhagiar lost his bearings somewhat as he sprinted towards the box and the attack dissipated. He has extraordinary pace, the former Mariner, but does he have the football intelligence to make the most of it?

21 mins: Sydney continue to monopolise possession but that does not suit their ability to free their speedy strikers in behind. Wellington are defending smartly, showing good organisation and communication between a deep-lying defence and compact midfield.

19 mins: Sydney enjoy a long spell of possession in midfield before attacking down the right through Grant then Warland down the left. Both defenders sent over crosses but both were dealt with without much concern by Wellington. This is not a Sydney FC forward line that looks likely to prosper from balls slung into the box unless they are clearly targeted and in transition.

16 mins: The resulting corner is headed wide by DeVere at the far post with Redmayne rooted to the spot. Close call for Sydney FC.

15 mins: It’s been an entertaining opening. Both teams are playing neat and nimble football and finding attractive combinations in their mission to get the ball into dangerous areas. The latest comes from the Nix but again it ends with Sotirio robbed far too easily by Warland as he enters the box.

13 mins: Ninkovic to the fore again, this time forcing DeVere into a turnover just outside his box. Sydney’s superstar lays it off to Buhagiar but his first touch is poor and the shooting opportunity disappears.

11 mins: Lewis invites Redmayne to make a straightforward save from range before Ninkovic shows more delightful footwork on the edge of Wellington’s box. The Serbian unselfishly chipped a cross after his trickery only to watch it drift in front of Buhagiar. He may have been better advised to shoot.

8 mins: Sotirio should score after being put in over the top by a raking Rufer pass, but he duffs his attempted lob over the stranded Redmayne. Sotirio has plenty of attributes but time and again over his career his end product has let him down.

7 mins: Sydney are pinging the ball around confidently, passing and moving with grace from one side to the other, looking for the opening. Young Calem Nieuwenhof adds some invention, straightening up from midfield and dribbling into the box, but he’s crowded out before he can get a shot away.

5 mins: Warland is in the referee’s notebook very early for taking out the spinning Ball on halfway long after the ball had disappeared.

3 mins: Sydney FC enjoy the first look at goal. A calm passing move from back to front gains an injection of urgency from Ninkovic who darts into the box and some neat interplay ends with Barbarouses clipping a near-post effort into the side netting.

2 mins: Wellington are the first team to get on the ball and they build nicely from defence into attack. The patient build-up is down the right but then the switch exploits space for Sotirio on the left but his cross from the byline is cut out and Sydney scramble clear.

fire alarm going off just before kick off is not even top 20 funniest/most bizarre things that have happened in the #aleague #welvsyd

Here we go in the Wollongong rain...

Can someone please shut that stupid alarm off? #WELvSYD

Normal A-League areas just before kick-off with a siren sounding and a call for the venue to be evacuated. Naturally nobody is paying attention.

Out come the teams, Wellington in their lovely new all-yellow strip with black trim, and Sydney FC in their title-winning sky blue shirts, navy shorts, and sky blue socks.

A smattering of face masks around WIN Stadium this afternoon, but not as many as you might expect considering the Covid-19 flare up in NSW and Victoria.

Warm ups ✅
Kick off coming up...#SydneyIsSkyBlue #Premi4rs #Champion5 #WELvSYD pic.twitter.com/6diLpx3YfF

For this time of year it’s cool in NSW and there’s plenty of rain around to make the surface slick. Considering this was one of those matches that could have been a summer scorcher there’s no impediment to a fast 90 minutes of action.

Plenty of familiar faces in Sydney FC’s matchday squad with Steve Corica not deviating far from his familiar script. All eyes will be on Trent Buhagiar up front, while the promising Calem Nieuwenhof earns a start in midfield after impressing in the Asian Champions League.

LINEUP: Here’s how your Sky Blues will start in today’s opening clash of our ‘Threepeat’ campaign

What do you make of the squad?#SydneyIsSkyBlue #Premi4rs #Champion5 #WELvSYD pic.twitter.com/Ctqs0Qt7RN

There are debuts for Clayton Lewis, Joshua Laws, and Mirza Muratovic, as well as a start for the returning James McGarry as Ufuk Talay adapts to life after the likes of Liberato Cacace and Steven Taylor, and the absence of Reno Piscopo to a calf injury. None of the newly acquired quartet are older than 23 in a further indication of the profile of the Nix under Talay’s leadership.

Our first line-up of the 2020/21 season

⚫️ | https://t.co/SAVRs4rhYc pic.twitter.com/lYJLrqIDWR

There’s a bit of time before kick-off, so feel to use this as an opportunity for some Q&A about the A-League, your team, or Australian football in general.

Send your emails here or tweet @JPHowcroft if that’s easier.

Related: We go again, even if the A-League does not get where it wants to go | Jonathan Howcroft

Related: A-League and W-League unbundle from Football Australia in 'historic moment' for game

Hello everybody and welcome to live coverage of the A-League clash between Wellington Phoenix and Sydney FC. Kick-off at Wollongong Showground is around 5.05pm.

Technically we’re into matchday two of this nascent campaign but the recent Covid-19 outbreaks in NSW and Victoria mean this will be the first time either the Sky Blues or the Nix have taken the field. The pandemic was already influencing this particular fixture with Wellington relocating to Australia for the foreseeable future to avoid the need for international border crossings.

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