War and Peace (and A-League) – The Semi Finals

 

 

 

NEWCASTLE JETS 2 (McGree 56 Hoffman 74) MELBOURNE CITY 1 (Topor-Stanley OG 13)

 

The Jets are in to their first Grand Final in 10 years after coming back from 1-0 down to defeat Melbourne City in spectacular fashion in the Hunter.

 

The Jets didn’t seem to be nervous early on a cold and wet night in Newcastle with Jason Hoffman heading over a free kick from close range after only a few minutes. They were made to pay though when on 13 minutes City went ahead. A decent cross from the left headed for the lurking Bruno Fornaroli was cut out in desperation by Nikolai Topor-Stanley. Unfortunately for the veteran the ball hit the keeper and bounced back off Topor-Stanley and into the net. An unfortunate own goal.

 

A huge test for Newcastle in front of a big crowd. City had destroyed them last time they played at the same venue and Daniel Arzani was starting to use his tricks to create opportunities on the left for City but the game edged along. The crowd seemed nervous and watched the minutes tick away as the tried to find some urgency and an equaliser.

 

On 57 minutes the equaliser came and it really was something.

 

Neat little passes by the Jets got the ball in to the area. The young Socceroo Riley McGree did a one two with a teammate but the return pass was behind him as McGree sprinted through. In desperation McGree chucked a trailing foot out, trying to make contact in a futile attempt to get a shot away. Somehow he managed to connect with the ball with some venom and sent it in to the back of the net and shake the foundations of Hunter Stadium. A scorpion kick goal. A wonderful goal. A goal to promote an entire league on. A goal for all A-League fans and not just Jets fans who have to sit through some real dross at times.

 

With the crowd baying for cashed-up City Group blood the side now believed and pushed for the winner. On 67 minutes Hoffman was put through on the right could only sky the shot over the bar. The local boy who was the only one left from the 2008 triumph had to make his chances count. The Jets kept coming at City, a team seen as chocolate soldiers when it mattered through the years. On 74 minutes the Jets attacked down the left thanks to some Dimi Petratos magic. A Joey Champness cross in from the left wasn’t the best. The clearance by the City defender was fluffed though and went straight to Hoffman at the edge of the penalty area who lashed it home to put the Jets in front and again question the foundations of the stadium.

 

From here the Jets held out, cheered home from long suffering supporters all probably with the scars of the Tinkler era. Newcastle are in to the big one and deservedly so. City again so close but lacking that final bit of heart, of mongrel, of luck to qualify.

 

SYDNEY FC 2 (Nigro OG 23 Antonis OG 95) MELBOURNE VICTORY 3 (Barbarouses 30 Troisi 46 Antonis 116)

 

The Jets fans nursing hangovers on Saturday morning would have been looking to see what train to take or who would be skipper for the trip down to the SFS for the Grand Final. No one expected Sydney FC to drop this game and not host the Grand Final. When Victory’s star defender Rhys Williams also went down with a season and world cup ending injury in the warm up it definitely looked like Victory would again be making up the numbers against their arch rivals who had lauded it over them recently.

 

In front of another meager crowd of Sydney FC supporters (many perhaps waiting for next week) and sycophantic Fox Sports commentators towing the company line the second amazing semi final of the weekend took place.

 

It all seemed to be going to script. On 23 minutes the champions went ahead when captain Alex Brosque seemingly headed in a Mierzejewski free kick to have 1-0 Sydney. The goal would be ruled as an own goal. Would Sydney FC steamroll their rivals? No, Victory rallied and equalised only seven minutes later. Terry Antonis’ pass released Kosta Barbarouses down the left and he cut inside with his shot deflected in to the back of the net setting off the smattering of Victory fans behind the goal. We had a game. The first half played out with Victory matching Sydney for intensity, chances and pure grit.

 

In the second half half it only took 90 seconds for Victory to take a shock lead. The usual immovable object Josh Brilliante caused a stupid turn over in the midfield that saw the ball find Besart Berisha who in turn squared the ball for James Troisi to finish from close range at the far post and celebrate/goad in front of the Sydney supporters. We really had a game now!

 

Sydney tried to stretch and break Victory for the rest of the second half. Victory went defensive taking Berisha and their other attacking weapon Leroy George. They could hold out, then they could knock off Sydney. The minutes stretched away as Sydney tried everything to score but for whatever reason for once they just couldn’t. Five minutes of time added on and the Sky Blues mounted once last challenge after hitting the crossbar minutes before. The long ball from keeper was headed down and bobbled around between players. The ball came out to the right where Mierzejewski squared the ball trying to find a foot and it did… the foot of Antonis. The former Sydney FC player tried to clear the ball but only succeeded in putting in to the back of his own net. 2-2 and extra time with Antonis wanting the ground to swallow him up. The Victory players on and off the pitch on the haunches.

 

Okay so NOW would Sydney bulldoze the unfortunate Victory and host the expected Grand Final? Both teams seemed dead on their feet though with Victory lacking any real attacking nous after subbing their weapons. With four minutes to go the moment came. Around half way on the right Victory had the ball after a rare as hens teeth mistake from the master Ninkovic. Antonis ran at two Sydney defenders and somehow squeezed past their half arsed challenges and was away. Antonis sprinted at the goal and in to the area as knackered Sydney players chased. Antonis got his shot away and it slid past the keeper and in to the goal to put Victory ahead again. Redemption! Sometimes the house doesn’t always win!

 

Victory held out for a famous win to put them in the Grand Final even with two of their assistants sent off for running on to the field to confront another hot head in Dave Carney. Antonis went from villain to hero and let the emotions consume him at full time. An amazing rollercoaster of a ride. Graham Arnold still claimed Sydney FC were the best ever A-League side in the press conference of his final game as coach of the Sky Blues. They wouldn’t be going for back to back titles though. Perhaps the arrogance and bullying had caught up with them. No one remembers the semi finalists Arnie.

 

Victory have always been a big game team. This adds to the story.

 

SACRED COW OF THE ROUND – Both Semi Finals. 

 

The 218 minutes played in the two semi finals. ALL OF THEM.

 

CLOWN OF THE ROUND –  Josh Massoud

 

Not many to find for once, which is nice; so Josh Massoud’s rather simple comments on Offsiders this morning were rightly derided. An insult to the people of Newcastle to say that a national Grand Final shouldn’t be played ‘in the regions’. His claim that the last Grand Final the Jets hosted was held in front of a sell out crowd at the SFS is also unresearched crap. It was a Mariners home game and they couldn’t have it in Gosford could they.

Newcastle’s stadium is big enough, they’ll fill it, they deserve it.

 

WHAT TO LOOK FORWARD TO NEXT WEEK 

With Sydney FC now out it’s a very even Grand Final. The Jets host but the Victory are big game players. Both sides have real ‘white line fever’ strikers in Besart Berisha and Roy O’Donovan. Ernie Merrick against a side he took to three Grand Finals and two titles. The Victory hoping to avoid two straight Grand Final defeats. the Jets going for their first title in 10 years to complete the fairy tale and finally get rid of the stink of Tinkler, that shit they just can’t quite get off the liver. Can’t wait for next Saturday night. A top end to what has been a tumultuous season.

 

 

About Dennis Gedling

RTR FM Presenter. Glory Guerrillas Producer and Co-Host. Contributer to Football Nation Radio and Football West. Worships at the feet of the mighty Cats, Socceroos, Matildas, West Perth, Glory and Glasgow's Green and White most of the time.

Comments

  1. Malby Dangles says:

    Brilliant passionate write ups, Dennis.
    So much emotion and passion in both games. Riley McGree (sounds like a character from a Bob Dylan song!) and his goal was one for the ages. I am a Victory fan though and I was overjoyed with our match on Saturday. Antonis’s goals were something out of a Hollywood movie!!! And the Melbourne fans continuing the chanting right behind the FoxSports pundits was genius.

  2. For a moment on Saturday night it looked as if the next James Bond movie would be named after Double Agent Terry Antonis but Melbourne into the decider in Newcastle. Should be a great contest and great crowd.

Leave a Comment

*