Grant celebrates milestone by firing Sydney past Western United
Socceroos fullback Rhyan Grant marked his 200th A-League appearance by scoring the decisive goal as Sydney FC snapped their winless streak with a 2-0 triumph against ten-man Western United at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium.
Grant capped a typically relentless, all-action display by notching his 10th competition goal in the 47th minute following a slick one-two with Kosta Barbarouses to bring a halt to the defending Premiers unwanted run of four games without claiming maximum points.
The 30-year-old, one-club man became the ninth player to reach 200 games in the competition’s history, with only 222-cap Alex Brosque making more appearances for Sydney, and Bobo got the celebrations started in the 18th minute, converting a penalty after Barbarouses was hacked down by ex-Sky Blue Aaron Calver.
The Brazilian’s second goal in four days gave Steve Corica’s side an advantage that the Green and Black could not overturn in the absence of talisman Alessandro Diamanti, with coach Mark Rudan shuffling the pack and making five changes from their 1-0 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers in Ballarat only 72 hours earlier.
Handed his first A-League start in relief of the concussed Filip Kurto, stand-in goalkeeper Ryan Scott made a string of saves to keep the away side in the contest but Besart Berisha was starved of service in the absence of inspirational captain Diamanti, with only Connor Pain providing a regular threat to the Sky Blues' compact backline.
Grant could have had a late assist for Barbarouses, the Kiwi’s strike was wayward, but with the likes of Berisha and Iker Guarrotxena removed from the action, the second half was sparse in attacking thrust from the away side. Andrew Durante's 94th-minute red card, for a slap on substitute Jordi Swibel, compounded Western United's misery as Sydney claimed all three points to move level with the A-League’s top six.
Although he was celebrating his milestone game, Rhyan Grant quickly dropped his guard, allowing Connor Pain to surge behind the champions’ defence but his fifth-minute strike cannoned back off the post. The Green and Black controlled the opening quarter of an hour until Sydney tested Ryan Scott’s nerve with a pair of corners before Anthony Caceres’ 20-yard strike was gathered at the second attempt with Bobo lurking.
CHANCE: Pain - Western United threatening down the left
The Sky Blues were growing into the contest as Milos Ninkovic’s backheel split open the visitor’s defence and Grant saw his shot close-range shot blocked by Scott. Kosta Barbarouses was quickest to the loose ball and a wild challenge by Aaron Calver left the Kiwi forward floored, with Bobo stepping up to slot in from the penalty spot, although Scott did get a strong hand to the ball, in the 18th minute.
GOAL: Bobo - Brazilian gets two goals in three days
Mark Rudan’s side responded positively, with Andrew Redmayne out quickly to deny the onrushing Besart Berisha and leaving the competition’s top scorer in a heap. The Socceroos gloveman was called into action again by Iker Guarrotxena, saving low down, before Caceras again threatened with a stinging strike that was well parried by Scott on his starting A-League debut.
The Green and Black were left scrambling when Caceres and Bobo both saw their rocket strikes charged down by Calver and Tomi Uzkok as Steve Corica's team finished the opening half well on top. Rudan introduced Dylan Pierias at the interval to add attacking thrust but, before he could find his feet, Grant had converted a perfectly-executed return pass with Ninkovic to double the scores.
GOAL: Grant - Mr Milestone gets in on the scoring
Grant was riding a wave as he attempted the spectacular in the 56th minute, an audacious flick from Barbarouses’ cross but the flying full-back mistimed his effort as the ball skimmed through his legs. Pain again had Redmayne on his toes, with the Sydney keeper making a block from the wing-back’s electric run, but the away side seemed short on ideas compared to the creativity of Caceres, Ninkovic and Barbarouses.
Grant continued to show his relentless work ethic in the closing stages, bombing forward to put the ball on a platter for Barbarouses in the 75th minute, but the New Zealander could only ripple the side netting. Luke Ivanovic and Jordi Swibel injected more energy into Sydney’s attack in the final minutes as Durante saw red in stoppage time for raising his hand and making contact, and the Premiers closed out an efficient win.
CHANCE: Barbarouses - Sky Blues looking for a third