Sydney FC end year with convincing win in Brisbane

Brisbane Roar 1-4 Sydney FC

By Ben Carey at AJ Kelly Park (31/12/22)

Above: Larissa Crummer, Shea Connors, and Kirsty Fenton scramble to the ball. Photo: Sydney FC.

Sydney FC closed out the year with a commanding win over Brisbane Roar on a sunny and humid Saturday afternoon. The 4-1 win made it two from two against Brisbane, having dispatched them just three weeks before.

The match started out with a flurry of chances up both ends, but the first big opportunity came for Sydney FC in just the third minute after an excellent run from Cortnee Vine who crossed it into Mackenzie Hawkesby. Hawkesby received the ball inside the six-yard box but ballooned it high over the goal, much to the delight of Brisbaneโ€™s backup keeper Isabella Shuttleworth, who was making her first start for the season.

The visitors broke the deadlock after only 13 minutes when Princess Ibini pulled off an incredible solo run into the box, past the Roar defenders, and sneaked the ball past the keeper from a very tight angle.

Just ten minutes later, Ibini turned provider with a quick and low cross to Sarah Hunter, who scored her second goal of the season and Sydneyโ€™s second of the match.

Brisbaneโ€™s best attempt of the first half came in the 33rd minute from a beautiful, high looping ball from Hollie Palmer, which looked like it was going to sail high over the goal, but dipped late towards the net, hit the left post, and bounced out to safety.

A few minutes later, there was a free kick from Hunter just outside the 18-yard box. Hunter hit a fantastic shot into the upper left corner, which Shuttleworth parried into the post, but the ball fell favourably for Sydney defender, Nat Tobin, who tucked it away to secure Sydneyโ€™s third goal of the day.

Just before stoppage time expired in the first half, Katrina Gorry took a good long-range shot on goal, but it hit the crossbar and stayed out. Going into halftime the Sydney backup keeper, Katie Offer, and the goalposts had both made two saves each.

The second half picked up where the first left off, with high intensity from both sides out of the gates. Brisbane had a great chance about five minutes in, after a cross from Palmer found the head of Larissa Crummer, who was in the six-yard box unmarked, but the ball just floated over the crossbar. Crummer was celebrating her 50th appearance for the Roar and would have loved a goal to cap it off.

On the counterattack, Hawkesby set up Madison Haleyโ€™s fourth goal of the season. She is now Sydneyโ€™s top scorer this season, two ahead of both Siemsen and Hunter.

Brisbane Roar fired back in the 69th minute when Roar captain Ayesha Norrie, weaved through the Sydney defence and slotted the ball between the keeper and the goal post from a very difficult angle. Although it was a consolation goal, Norrie achieved what only one other person, Emilia Murray, has done this season, and that is score against Sydney FC. It showed that the Sky Blues could bleed, and it got the Roar and the decent hometown contingent fired up.

About ten minutes later, Gorry had another fantastic attempt from outside the 18-yard box. The ball was travelling to the top corner and Offer got hands to it, but fumbled as she fell backwards onto the ground. It was something of a Christmas miracle that kept the ball out, and had fans chanting for a VAR review, which of course is absent in the A-League Womenโ€™s.

Surprisingly in the last 20 minutes or so, Sydney was relatively happy to sit back and absorb the pressure, perhaps wanting to preserve their favourable goal difference. Brisbane Roar had several good attempts on goal, but these were either blocked by Sydney defenders or the keeper was equal to them. The score remained unchanged for the rest of the match.

Sydney FC proved once again why they are the team to beat. Quick and accurate passing, relentless pressure, and a team bursting at the seams with goal providers and goal scorers, make them incredibly difficult to beat. Sometimes watching Sydney FC play is like watching Barcelona play, when they are switched on, they are just so impressive.

Tobin, Hawkesby, and Ibini had a phenomenal day at the office, all of which either scored or were involved in one or more of Sydneyโ€™s goals. In the Roar camp, Gorry was the standout performer with her physicality and the fierce determination of a bulldog always trying to win the ball back and set up her teammates or take shots on goal. Had her two shots that hit the woodwork gone in it could have been a very different match. But thatโ€™s football.

Brisbane Roar have a bye next week and Sydney FC will take on the Newcastle Jets, who will be taking some confidence into the matchup, having just scored a surprising win over Adelaide United.

Teams: BRISBANE ROAR (4-2-3-1): Shuttleworth, Levin, Lind, Thompson, Rankin, Norrie, Gorry, Palmer, Freier, Connors, Crummer. Substitutes: Bailey, Kruger, Kramer, McQueen, Robinne.

SYDNEY FC (4-3-3): Offer, Fenton, Tobin, McClean, Rule, Hawkesby, Hollman, Hunter, Ibini, Haley, Vine. Substitutes: Black, De La Harpe, Stanic-Floody, Lowe, Lemon.

Scorers: Ibini 13โ€™, Hunter 23โ€™, Tobin 37โ€™, Haley 52โ€™, Norrie 69โ€™.

Referee: Georgia Ghirardello.

Attendance: 992.

Artwork by: Charlotte Stacey, founder of On Her Side.

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