A-League: Blake Powell and Hamish Watson have given Sydney FC a headache early on in their clash, finding the back of the net twice in two minutes.
IN a stunning implosion, Sydney FC just about wrote off their own finals hopes in front of their shocked home fans at Allianz Stadium.
With only a handful of matches remaining in the regular season this was nothing short of a must win game for the home side, but it turned into a horror show as the Sky Blues slumped to a 3-1 defeat against Wellington Phoenix.
There is still a mathematical chance Sydney could sneak into the top six, but they would virtually have to win their four remaining games and that seems an unlikely prospect with confidence surely at its lowest ebb.
Sydney’s back four, so solid at the start of the season, turned brittle, while without Alex Brosque there is a lack of experience up front. It’s reflected in the fact that they have now gone eight games without a win and still haven’t managed to beat a team from outside of NSW.
A promising start on a beautiful Sydney evening was turned on its head when, in the space of three minutes early in the first half, Sydney were left completely stunned.
Comical defending allowed Blake Powell to pounce for the game’s opener. It was a clinical finish by the former Sydney FC player, but he had all the time in the world when the ball rebounded to him inside the box without a Sky Blues shirt in sight.
Despite both Seb Ryall and Rhyan Grant returning to the back four, Sydney looked fragile and it was a matter of seconds before they were punished once again. Poor marking saw Hamish Watson double Wellington’s lead inside the opening 15 minutes.
Conceding early goals has been Sydney’s problem during their poor run of form recently, something coach Graham Arnold has been at pains to rectify, but a two-goal deficit left them with a mountain to climb.
There was nothing for the fans to cheer for - unless you were one of the small pocket of 20 Phoenix supporters - and things only got worse when Milos Ninkovic hobbled off the pitch in the 22nd minute.
Ninkovic, who has been one of Sydney’s best players, went down clutching his left foot and immediately signalled for the substitution.
As if watching one of their best imports limping down the tunnel soon after conceding twice wasn’t enough for the fans to stomach, their team would soon be 3-0 down before the break when Roly Bonevacia became the latest beneficiary of Sydney’s charitable defending.
The excellent Michael McGlinchey picked out Watson in the box, who could even afford to fluff his shot before the ball rolled on to an unmarked Bonevacia. Three shots on target, three goals for the visitors.
In a do or die second half, Arnold brought on Jacques Faty and Mickael Tavares as Sydney attempted to claw their way back into the game. They showed some resolve and it didn’t take long before Filipe Holosko pulled one back, but still Sydney continued to look vulnerable at the back and offered very little going forward.