Melbourne City FC were forced to share the spoils in the opening match of the Hyundai A-League season, settling for a 1-1 draw with Sydney FC on Saturday night.
The Round 1 clash, held at Sydney’s Allianz Stadium on Saturday evening, was almost a carbon copy of the 1-1 draw in the corresponding opening fixture last season, although City opened the scoring first, before Sydney struck an equaliser to grab a share of the spoils.
Netting the opening goal of the match, Dekker combined with fellow debutant Bruno Fornaroli, pouncing on a mistake from Jacques Faty in defence to score his first A-League goal.
City created a number of excellent chances to double its lead in the first half, striking the crossbar before being denied a penalty as Robi Koren was floored by Sydney FC ‘keeper Vedran Janjetovic.
Graham Arnold’s side then worked its way back into the match in the last 15 minutes of the first half, finding an equaliser deep into first half stoppage time as Filip Holosko finished off a neat move from involving Brandon O’Neill and Alex Brosque.
With a number of absentees through injury, John van’t Schip was forced to select a relatively youthful line up, with National Youth League graduates Dekker and Hernan Espindola handed their first A-League starts.
Both were impressive, but Dekker had an impressive debut, alongside Fornaroli in attack.
With just two changes to the team which took the field in the Westfield FFA Cup Quarter Final against Heidleberg United, former Danish International Thomas Sorensen was installed in goal, with Jason Trifiro featuring for Aaron Mooy.
Pre-match talk centred around what part Mooy would play and the midfielder, after arriving back in the country after featuring for the Socceroos only two days earlier against Jordan, came on as a second-half substitute.
After just 16 minutes Dekker had his first A-League in his first A-League start. Fornaroli pounced on a pressured mistake by Faty and the Uruguayan slid Dekker through on goal with space.
As two Sydney FC defenders closed on, Dekker kept a level head, burying a neat right-footed shot across Janjetovic towards the near post.
Sydney threatened through new marquee Holosko, with the Slovakian firing his first warning shot at Sorensen, only for the former Stoke City stopper to collect comfortably.
City had a chance to extend its lead on the half hour mark, as Espindola was put through on goal by a great through ball from Koren, only for the 20-year-old Espindola to slice the ball wide of the target.
Melbourne again went close as a dangerous Trifiro set piece was flicked onto the Sydney cross bar by its own defender Matt Jurman, as the home side breathed a sigh orelief.
But Sydney would finish the half stronger, with Kisnorbo first conceding a foul before clearing up a dangerous set piece before Jurman could pounce at the back post.
Arnold’s side continued to push and Sydney’s break though came with 10 seconds of additional time to spare in the first stanza in a cruel blow for City.
O’Neil won the ball in midfield, splitting City’s defence with a searing low pass, which sent Brosque through on goal. Sydney’s captain squared to Holosko who tapped in from close range.
The second half proved to be more dominant for the home side, with Sebastian Ryall’s fresh air swing provided a reminder of Sydney’s threat from set pieces.
While Mooy and Stefan Zinni’s introduction into the match helped City to control the midfield and provide additional pace on the wing going forward, it was Sorensen who proved a saviour for city.
Sorensen made two crucial saves in the final 15 minutes. First, he denied Rhyan Grant’s curling effort from long range, before saving a late close-range effort from second-half substitute George Blackwood.
Collecting a point from last season’s Grand Finalists in its first outing, City faces another challenging opponent in Melbourne Victory in the Melbourne Derby next Saturday evening.
Hyundai A-League Round 1
Saturday, 10 October 2015
Sydney FC 1 (Filip Holosko 45+3’)
Melbourne City FC 1 (Wade Dekker 16’)
Venue: Allianz Stadium, Sydney
Referee: Ben WILLIAMS
Sydney FC: 1. Vedran JANJETOVIC (GK), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 5. Matthew JURMAN, 8. Milos DIMITRIJEVIC, 9. Shane SMELTZ (18. Matthew SIMON 85’), 10. Milos NINKOVIC, 13. Brandon O’NEILL, 14. Alex BROSQUE (C), 19. Jacques FATY, 21. Filip HOLOSKO (, 24. George BLACKWOOD 63’), 23. Rhyan GRANT
Substitutes not used: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (GK), 27. Mickael TAVARES
Yellow cards: Faty 84’, Grant 86’, Simon 90+2’
Red cards: Nil
Melbourne City FC: 1. Thomas SORENSEN (GK), 4. Connor CHAPMAN, 6. Erik PAARTALU, 10. Robert KOREN, 16. Jason TRIFIRO (8. Aaron MOOY 58’), 17. Wade DEKKER (28. Steve KUZMANOVSKI 74’), 18. Paulo RETRE, 22. Jack CLISBY, 23. Bruno FORNAROLI, 24. Patrick KISNORBO (C), 30. Hernan ESPINDOLA (34. Stefan ZINNI 58’)
Substitutes not used: 20. Tando VELAPHI (GK), 11. Michael ZULLO
Yellow cards: Trifiro 41’, Dekker 68’, Paartalu 75’, Fornaroli 90+4’
Red cards: Nil