Sydney FC shocked by Fowler’s Roar
SYDNEY FC's interest in the FFA Cup is over as quickly as it began, eliminated 2-0 by the Roar of Robbie.
Winners and beaten finalists in the past three years, Sydney went out in the Round of 32 for the first time as Robbie Fowler's regime at Brisbane began in startling fashion.
Goals either side of halftime left the A-League champions facing two months of inactivity before the new season starts in earnest. By contrast, the man who is effectively the A-League's first marquee coach was punching the air at the final whistle.
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"We've started a 16-year-old kid, had an 18-year-old in the middle, scored two goals way from home and beaten the A-League champions in my first game," Fowler said.
"Everyone deserves to be delighted, we put in a great performance against a top team."
Sydney were hardly poor, and their newly assembled attack will improve with every outing, but for once they saw an opponent be far more clinical. Milos Ninkovic limping off with what Sydney hope is just a bruised ankle compounded the frustration.
"We can take a lot of positives, especially from a much improved performance in the second half," said Sydney coach Steve Corica. "We had a lot of chances and on another night could have had three or four, but it wasn't the best of nights."
Sydney's modus operandi this coming season is obvious - a team lacking pace last season now has it in spades and they will look to burn opponents on the break judging by the lightning counterattacks at Leichhardt Oval.
Several times in the first half they tore into the Brisbane half without quite finding the final pass, and on 52 minutes Adam Le Fondre should have opened his account for the season thanks to a barnstorming attack but Jamie Young saved at his feet.
By that stage Brisbane were two goals ahead, and not in a manner that was undeserved.
The first did have a touch of fortune in that Jay O'Shea's jinking run into the box delivered the ball to Stefan Mauk, but the Olyroo's finish was helped home by a generous deflection off Ryan McGowan.
The second goal, on 47 minutes, was neatly constructed to exploit confusion in Sydney's back four. A hopeful ball forward was allowed to reach Roy O'Donovan, and the Irishman's low cross ran unchallenged to the back post where O'Shea finished emphatically.
No wonder Fowler bore a satisfied air, aware of the critics arguing he had been appointed for his playing reputation. Intriguingly, at the half-time whistle, he sat hunched with his assistant over their tactics whiteboard for a couple of minutes before striding off to address his team.
Pre-season training under Fowler began at the Roar's new training centre on July 8, and just a month later there was an admirable sense of adventure and poise about the way they tried to play - as well as a deliberate physicality.
One cicada doesn't make a summer, but these were promising signs for how Fowler's side might perform come the A-League season.