Sydney FC makes history in defeating Jets
IT was the night the Sky Blues came for a party, to the soundtrack of yet another broken record.
Sydney FC were crowned A-League Premiers at Allianz Stadium and set a new points tally for the competition thanks to a 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets in their final game of the regular season.
After the win took Graham Arnold's side to 66 points for the season, eclipsing the previous record of 65 set by Brisbane in 2011 in three more games, the only cloud was an ankle injury to Serbian playmaker Milos Ninkovic.
Clearly Sydney were intent on providing a night of entertainment before the presentation of the Plate, setting about Newcastle's defence from every angle and probing for an opening.
In only the second minute, Brandon O'Neill's perfectly weighted chip found Filip Holosko alone in the box, but Jack Duncan did wonderfully well to deflect the winger's shot just wide.
The breakthrough seemed inevitable, the more that Ninkovic got on the ball.
In the 15th minute he wriggled into the heart of the Newcastle defence, played a one-two with Bobo and was about to bring the house down when Ben Kanterovski produced one of the great last-ditch tackles to deny him the opening goal.
Just past the half-hour Alex Wilkinson was denied twice as Sydney literally queued up for chances - first his shot was blocked at close range, then from Josh Brillante's cross Wilkinson's header thudded back off the bar.
Sydney could even afford to gift Newcastle a penalty, with Rhyan Grant getting in a tangle with Andrew Hoole's legs just before the break.
The fact that Andrew Nabbout then sidefooted the spotkick wide summed up the anaemic threat of a side that seemed so close to going on holiday that its postcards were already half written.
When Sydney did finally take the lead, in the 57th minute, that sense of detachment could not have been more strongly emphasised.
The origin was a pirouette from Bobo and pass out to the right wing that took out the whole of the Jets midfield, but when the ball was laid off to Holosko, the Slovakian's low cross went through three defenders before reaching Ninkovic, who had all the time in the world to score from a couple of metres out.
One of the few exceptions for the Jets was Kanterovski, whose performance was a stream of industry, but the midfielder left a rather different impression on the contest with an ugly and unnecessary foul on Ninkovic 15 minutes from the end.
The furious reaction from the normally even-tempered Serb said everything, moments before he limped up the tunnel.
Brosque had the chance to seal the win, dispossessing Lachlan Jackson just inside the Jets half and streaking clear, but as the Sydney captain rounded Duncan, Daniel Mullen appeared to steal the ball away and rescue his defensive partner.
Finally, though, with five minutes left, O'Neill's cross was flicked on by the substitute Matt Simon, and Brosque volleyed home at the far post. The party was underway.