“Not the best of nights but we have a long pre-season now to prepare for the start of the league,” Sydney FC coach Steve Corica said. “It’s good to see what they’re about now, what Robbie is trying to bring to their playing style. I thought they were very physical tonight, gave a lot of fouls away and it broke up our play. I think that was there plan.”
For all of Sydney’s added pace up front, they struggled to break down a disciplined Roar side under Fowler’s guidance. What Brisbane lacked in creativity they made up in industry and through their high work rate came chances. None was better than that created by new Irish signing Jay O’Shea minutes before the break. A forward run and a prodded through ball exposed Sydney’s backline napping to allow Stefan Mauk through on goal which stunned the home crowd by putting the Roar into the lead, albeit via helpful deflection from Sydney’s Ryan McGowan.
If coaches earn their keep with half-time team talks then Fowler gave an early hint that he could be value for Brisbane this year. Just one minute after the resumption of play and his side had doubled their tally against the A-League champions. Sydney’s defence was out at sea and when a flat ball across the box from Roy O’Donovan exposed their frailties, the unmarked O’Shea made them suffer. The Irishman made no mistake from inside the box, rattling the roof of the net put the Roar on the cusp of a shock result.
Sydney showed signs of clawing themselves back into the contest and their pace in transition provided their best hopes of a fightback. A quick exchange between Brandon O’Neill and Alex Baumjohann carved open the Roar’s backline to set up Le Fondre from close range, but a superb reflex save from Jamie Young denied the Englishman.
Hopes of a comeback were dealt a blow in the 56th minute when Milos Ninkovic was forced off with an injury after a heavy challenge but it could have been much worse for them had referee Katie Patterson noticed McGowan’s handball inside the box.
Even with that let-off, they couldn’t take the chances they created. Barbarouses should have done much better with a point blank header in the 74th minute instead of blazing it over the bar but so nearly made amends in spectacular fashion shortly after through a ferocious half volley. The rattling of the outside of the net was the closest he, or Sydney FC, would get to a goal on Wednesday night.
Sydney are now left to wait two months before their next competitive match., the FFA Cup finalists of the past three seasons humbled by the new-look Roar.