Sydney FC have grabbed their first win of the season at the 5th attempt, holding off a fast-finishing Wellington Phoenix 2-1 at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
The returning Elvis Kamsoba was in the thick of the action, spurning a glorious opportunity early on, but he made up for it in the 19th minute when he was on hand to smash the ball past Oliver Sail after a knockdown by Harry Van der Saag.
The Phoenix then lost Sail to injury just six minutes later, with 19-year-old Alexander Paulsen making his debut. He was forced into action from the off, making smart saves from Kamsoba and starting debutant Patrick Yazbek.
The Phoenix did manage to get a foothold at the start of the second half and forced the home side to defend their own box for a spell. However, Sydney doubled their lead in the 57th minute as a piercing run from Anthony Caceres split the Wellington defence; Adam Le Fondre profited and grabbed his second goal of the season.
Wellington grabbed a goal back through Ben Waine, who capitalised on a static Sydney defence to poke the ball past Andrew Redmayne after a lengthy VAR review.
The Phoenix threw men forward in an attempt to nab a point, but the Sky Blues managed to hold on and grab a crucial three points.
KAMSOBA AND CACERES IMPRESS FOR IMPROVED SKY BLUES
The signing of Elvis Kamsoba was much maligned by many Sydney FC fan, but the Burundian international has been one of the most effective players for Sydney so far this season.
His pace and energy is a menace for defenders to deal with for 90 minutes, and whilst his final product may need a bit of polishing, he is beginning to have more of an impact on the socreboard as he grabbed the first goal of the game. He is evidently playing with a confidence not seen towards the end of his time in Melbourne, and Sydney look set to reap the rewards.
Anthony Caceres also left his mark on the game. After a sluggish performance against Central Coast, the midfield maestro was back to form, pulling the strings in the middle of the park as the Sky Blues gradually exerted control over proceedings. Playing in a more advanced role, his dribbling prowess was on full show, grabbing an assist for Sydney’s second goal.
His game was symbolic of a much improved Sydney FC after a poor loss last time out.
WELLINGTON ATTACKING STRUGGLES CONTINUE
The Phoenix are operating under tremendously difficult circumstances as they face a second season away from home. However, after promising performances early this season, they are beginning to struggle to keep up with the rest of the league.
Despite Rene Piscopo and David Ball showing glimpses of their quality, their attack is beginning to lack bite, as they failed to score for the third game in a row. And as the first half wore on, they began to lose control of the game as Sydney put their defence under extraordinary amounts of pressure. And whilst the defence and their rookie keeper did their best to cope with the onslaught, they were let down by their midfield and attack being unable to exert themselves on the game enough.
Ben Waine managed to grab a goal late on, but the Phoenix simply struggled to create enough clear cut chances to trouble the Sydney defence on a regular basis.
If the Phoenix are to have a meaningful impact on the season, they must become more clinical up front.
FIRST WIN EASES THE PRESSURE ON STEVE CORICA
Sydney FC put in arguably their worst performance of Steve Corica’s tenure against Central Coast last week, with a lethargic performance that was emblematic of their slow start to the season. During the week, there was much pressure building on their coach as he was criticised for failing to renew and refresh an ageing squad.
In response, Corica made multiple changes, with Yazbek, Kamsoba and James Donachie all elevated to the starting line-up. The changes paid off, as Yazbek and Donachie looked calm and composed and Kamsoba ran the Phoenix defence into the ground.
The Sky Blues looked like a completely different team compared to last week, and they will be hoping that their maiden win can kickstart their season. Steve Corica will also sleep much easier; he knew that he had to get a reaction out of his side, and that it exactly what he got. Now the challenge is ensuring that Sydney are able to string some wins together and march up the table.
Isuzu Ute A-League Men: Round 5, Jubilee Stadium
Sydney FC 2 (Kamsoba 19m, Le Fondre 57m)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Waine 85m)
WHAT THE COACHES SAID
“Very happy with the three points, that was the main thing tonight. Obviously the results haven’t been going our way so we needed to get back on track, and I think we did that. We showed a good performance, maybe could have won by a little bit more in the end, but once they got that goal back they put us under a little bit of pressure.
“I’m very proud of the boys, I’m pleased for them because they have been working hard and probably should have had results before this one, but we’re off and running now.”
It’s disappointing in the end the way we lost. I think we gave Sydney two goals, I think we could have dealt with the first one a lot better and even the transition one in the second half I felt we could have dealt with that a lot better.
“Our first half performance was not up to standard, but the second half was a lot better.”