Newcastle 2 - Sydney 0 (first leg Newcastle 1 - Sydney 2)
Record crowd for Newcastle at 24,338
Referee Matthew Breeze
At the end of the game Terry Butcher kicked up a large divot of turf. The retort would have been ‘leave our turf alone.’ But Newcastle fans would not have noticed this misdo mina. Euphoria held sway.
The first half of the game surprised me. Sydney played defence. But Alex Brosque allowed himself to get frustrated. He and a few other Sydney players were over-stimulated. Stimulation can be key in big games where the performance formula is so critical:
Confidence + Motivation + Talent = performance
Sydney has a coach that relies heavily on stimulation to feed motivation. But his approach and other off-field machinations may have affected motivation, and training interruptions and injuries may have affected talent. Perhaps instead of water bottles and shouting they could have done with calmness and meditation. To produce:
right Confidence + right Motivation + right Talent = controlled performance
All Sydney needed to do was draw or score within one goal (and let penalties work it out). And yet Alex Brosque let himself get disconnected from Steve Coria, looked like a frustrated lone wolf and gave away two silly, silly, worth a yellow card, fouls. The first only 13 minutes in, and the second on half time. His elbow to Paul Okon’s neck may even have been worth a straight red. Okon felt it and went straight back at Alex. Which led everyone into it. Did someone hit Rudan? Did North head butt Talay or was that a dive? It looked like a dive. What was bench player Sasho Petrovski doing getting himself involved? And if a bench player can get a yellow, can they be given a red, and if so would someone else have had to come off? It looked a bit like, and for the first time I might add, that Matthew Breeze had lost control.
Newcastle were also over-stimulated. Milton Rodriguez missed an open goal early on and in the 60th minute (he was carrying an injury from half way through the first half). Then a hand ball penalty by Talay (same player was let off for this against the Roar) was not given. It is too hard to tell if Talay meant it. But if it did not hit his hand, it was going to go in. And so, think of all the ‘in the box hand balls’ that clearly were not going in but were given as penalties.
Then around the half hour, Joel Griffith beats Rudan and Talay who then combine and trip him up in the box. Again no penalty. Rudan is playing a rough tough game and minutes later gets a deserved yellow card.
And the third missed penalty appeal came in about the 60th minute when Nicky Carle, almost on the 6 yard box, had an open goal but was tacked from behind by Iain Fyfe. If Matthew Breeze had called three penalties chances differently, this game could have turned into a rout. Newcastle are like the Roar in that they find it hard to convince refs to give them the penalties that other teams use to win matches.
After this performance, how are Sydney going to go in the Asia cup where the refs are going to be seeking out Australian aggression? Motivation cannot be allowed to convert into straight aggression. This is training a losing discipline. Over-stimulation is a coaching failure.
As a footnote, the games goals were good. But I was impressed by Bolton. He caught and did not spill the hard shots - like the Milton Rodriguez second half free kick. I like my goalkeepers to catch the ball if all possible. It stops accidents.