Robbie Fowler rules as Fury finally win

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It was billed as “God” vs Aloisi – and there was one clear winner in Sydney FC’s clash with North Queensland Fury.

Robbie Fowler scored his fourth goal of season with an impudent lob, while John Aloisi’s reputation took another blow with the former Australia international missing a first-half penalty.   

The ex-Liverpool icon’s strike in the 1-0 victory had fans frantically smashing their keyboards in search of the requisite hyperbole – with many overlooking the fact that the lead-up play was straight off Route One.

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But while the former Leeds and Man City man’s impressive volley was widely lauded by the critics, his presence was enough to persuade just 16,649 fans through the gates of the Sydney Football Stadium.

That’s despite the fact that the game was well publicised throughout Sydney, with former Premier League goalkeeper Mark Bosnich heavily involved, while a Beatles cover band belted out the strains of the Fab Four at the ground itself.

However, of all the gimmicks that had Sydney fans up in arms – remember this was actually a Sydney home game – it was a pre-match article by Melbourne-born Sydney Morning Herald reporter Sebastian Hassett that really lit the fuse.

According to Hassett, his pre-match correspondence with Sydney officials had left him with the impression that the club was prepared to play Anfield anthem You’ll Never Walk Alone as the two teams took to the pitch.

Cue some rapid backtracking from those inside Sydney headquarters, who promptly claimed that it was the first they’d heard of the idea.

Hassett himself later hinted that the idea was likely floated by the marketing department of Football Federation Australia rather than Sydney FC, but whatever the truth, it went down like a lead balloon with members of Sydney supporter group The Cove.

The truth is that club officials can ill-afford to get offside with The Cove or any of the 7,000 members of the club.

Sydney’s attendances have dipped dramatically since the heady days of Dwight “All Night” Yorke in Season 1, and somewhat embarrassingly for the FFA, the crowd of 17,644 that turned out at Etihad Stadium in Melbourne was larger than the one Fowler drew for his big night in the harbour city.

Speaking of Melbourne, the Victory were left frustrated by their 1-1 draw with Wellington Phoenix – with the match played on one of the most diabolical pitches ever seen in the A-League.

The quality of A-League pitches has long been a bone of contention, since the round-ball game is forced to share stadia with more popular Australian sports.

Etihad Stadium is a regular venue for Australian Rules football, and two nights before Victory’s match the stadium had hosted an end-of-season Rugby League finals game featuring local side Melbourne Storm.

Both Victory and the Storm will move into a new rectangular stadiums next season, and the shift can’t come quickly enough given the truly dire state of the Etihad Stadium surface.

In the round’s other games a direct free-kick from midfielder Cassio was enough for Adelaide United to see off Central Coast Mariners in a 1-0 win – the misfit Brazilian has seemingly made up with coach Aurelio Vidmar after an early-season tantrum – while Brisbane Roar thumped Newcastle Jets 3-0 on the road.

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Brisbane are as enigmatic a side as any in the A-League, and if a mounting injury list wasn’t causing enough headaches for coach Frank Farina, he must now contend with the loss of three important youngsters to the FIFA U-20 World Cup in Egypt.

Gold Coast United rounded out the weekend by doing what they do best, as they infuriated Perth Glory coach Dave Mitchell with a last-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw.

Mitchell should be cursing his defenders, who fell asleep to allow Shane Smeltz to score his ninth goal of the season with a typically predatory finish.

There’s plenty for Robbie Fowler to do if he wants to catch Smeltz at the top of the goalscoring charts, but for now the Liverpudlian is free to revel in the glow of his winner against Sydney FC.

He’ll have conjured a sigh of relief from former Rangers midfielder Ian Ferguson as well, as he celebrated a maiden victory in charge of North Queensland Fury – with the Townsville-based side finally cracking a first ever A-League win at the sixth time of asking.

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