After conceding a late equaliser right at the death against Marconi Stallions seven days earlier, it was clear that the Tigers were not going to be exposed again late in the game after taking an early lead against the West Sydney Berries.
Tigers coach Luke McGuire said that the team talked about seven days ago just prior to this game:
?We spoke before the game about how disappointed we were with last week and during the week we were really hurting from that, so it was good motivation for us,? McGuire stated.
Both sides put on an excellent display of combative football and they were not prepared to give each other an inch of space. Pity there was not more spectators on hand to enjoy the action.
There was no rest for the wicked as both sides continually took the ball forward in what was one of the best matches of football in recent times in the TeleChoice Premier League.
After the game McGuire was obviously very pleased with the determination and style of play that was displayed by the Tigers:
?We have had an attitude change in the last two weeks. We worked hard tonight, we won a lot of ball and we looked good going forward,? he said.
?We moved the ball around well, competed all over the park and, for 70 or 80 minutes, we dominated the game.?
The early goal arrived on 12? minutes when Franco Parisi took a quick free-kick and found a rampaging Jamie McMaster who had no trouble dispatching the ball into the back of the net past Hamish McLean.
After the game Berries mentor John Calleja spoke about how the early goal impacted on his team:
?I was a bit disappointed with their first goal because I thought that we got caught out a bit at the free-kick and, from there, the game was in the balance,? he said.
In the 25? minute Michael Cunico could have done a lot better with his close-range chance, but unfortunately for the visitors the ball sailed just wide of the mark.
In the 35? minute Robert Younis had a golden chance to put the Tigers further ahead when, after his poorly taken free-kick rebounded nicely off the defensive wall for him to re-gather, he blasted the ball with such power that McLean was only able to turn it onto the crossbar.
The Berries replied shortly afterwards with a great chance of their own when Archie Kotsopoulos, with a magical cross from the left, found Dimitri Zakilas in the box, but his shot was somehow saved by a brilliant effort from Phillip Zabaks who managed to turn the ball away for a corner.
And, from the resulting corner kick, the Berries managed to twice strike the crossbar. Firstly, it was Adam Wither who headed the ball onto it and, secondly, Zakilas fired the rebound back onto the woodwork. Calleja spoke afterwards about his side?s lack of potency in front of goal and about the bad luck they had:
?We lacked a little bit of punch in that final third. With a little bit of luck and with some more potency in that final third, we could have equalised and the game would have been there for anyone to take,? he said.
The second-half was another high tempo affair and on 52? minutes creative midfielder Jason Trifiro with a brilliant effort from some 25-metres out tested the strength of the crossbar. It was a game of centimetres, but Trifiro certainly deserved to be rewarded for his brazen attempt.
The Berries replied four minutes later when Omar Saadi crossed for Liam Austin but his header was well saved by Zabaks.
Austin was in the thick of the action again a few minutes later when he found himself on the end of a John Tsironis pass, but once more there to deny him was a very reliable Zabaks.
In the 74? minute McLean pulled off what was arguably the save of the game when Michael Hawrysiuk neatly found Parisi who fired in a rocket that was destined for the back of the net until McLean pulled off a minor miracle to deny him a goal.
The Tigers though didn?t have to wait much longer because in the 78? minute Younis scored after a Michael West cross was cruelly deflected off Kotsopoulos? chest and the former Adelaide United striker virtually stumbled over the goal-line ball and all which may have gone in anyway off Kotsopoulos.
While the Tigers deserved the goal having gone so close on a number of occasions, it was a tough pill for the gallant Berries to swallow. A game of such high quality doesn?t deserve a loser ? a fact acknowledged by Calleja:
?I am obviously disappointed with the result but the performance of the players was admirable,? he said. ?Our guys really gave 100% and I thought we played very well.
?I didn?t think it was a 2-0 scoreline even though the Tigers played quite well too but, nevertheless, you would expect to come away from a game like that with a point.?
Late in the game Younis had one final chance as he charged towards goal, but somehow from close range he managed to send the ball a mere fraction too high.
In the end it didn?t matter and for Younis, who has been rather sluggish this season, it was a welcome return to his brilliant form of last season which earned him an A-League contract with Adelaide United.
Saturday, 9th May, 2009
Lambert Park, Leichhardt
Referee: Khodr Yaghi
Assistant Referees: Daniel Dewhurst and John Klime
Sydney Tigers 2 (Jamie McMaster 12?, Robbie Younis 78?)
West Sydney Berries 0
Sydney Tigers: 99.Phillip Zabaks; 2.Mark Byrnes, 3.John Kelso, 12.Michael West, 15.Danial Cummins, 18.Bishara Stephan (4.Daniel Clifford 83?), 19.Jamie McMaster (16.Michael Hawrysiuk 68?), 7.Stephen Kayes (11.Carlo Musumeci 79?), 24.Jason Trifiro, 10.Franco Parisi, 9.Robert Younis.
Substitutes Not Used: 1.Giancarlo Papaianni
Yellow Cards: Younis 20?, Kelso 40?, Parisi 61?, Cummins 66?
West Sydney Berries: 1.Hamish McLean; 2.Marjan Novotni, 3.Omar Saadi, 4.Adam Wither (9.Cameron Jones 82?), 5.Michael Cunico (10.John Tsironis 57?), 7.Peter Peralta, 11.Archie Kotsopoulos, 14.Liam Austin, 15.Ryan Jones, 16.Kosta Lagoudakis, 19.Dimitri Zakilas
Substitutes Not Used: 17.Chris Gaitazis, 18.Lorenzo Machuca, 22.Trinity Allen
Yellow Cards: Wither 14?, Kotsopoulos 34?, Ryan Jones 54?
3 – Robert Younis (ST)
2 – Michael West (ST)
1 – Liam Austin (WSB)
-By Joe Russo