They’ve been in the wars all week but Sydney FC emerged from the trenches victorious on Saturday with coach Frank Farina hailing his troops’ who overcame the pressure to post a 2-1 win over Perth.
With fans losing faith and fractures appearing in the team, no side was under more heat to win this week than the Sky Blues, who fired themselves back into the top six after claiming the three points.
“There’s been a lot of adversity during the week,” Farina said.
“They were in the trenches and they fought hard the whole game.
“There’s never a day or a game that I’m not proud of them.
“I’m sometimes disappointed but tonight they showed that they want to play, they want to do well.”
Serbian Ranko Despotovic opened the scoring with his sixth goal in 12 games courtesy of a superb through-ball from Italian skipper Alessandro Del Piero while young gun Terry Antonis also impressed at Allianz Stadium.
Playing in his first match of the season following a long injury layoff, the 20-year-old scored Sydney’s second goal while proving he hasn’t lost any of his deft touch on the ball with a strong showing in midfield.
Socceroos centre-back Sasa Ognenovski also proved crucial, adding some much-needed steel to the shaky Sydney defence on his debut for the club.
“We had to win, it’s as simple as that,” Farina said.
“It’s a big pressure and they handled it extremely well.
“I thought Terry Antonis did very well and Sasa Ognenovski did really well.
“They all did but I say those two because Terry’s had such a long time out of the game and Sasa hasn’t played for a while and for them to step into a pressure-cooker situation like that and to help the others was very good.”
Meanwhile, in an A-League first, the 11,160-strong crowd were treated to a showdown between two World Cup finalists in Del Piero and William Gallas, adding yet another layer to the encounter.
It was a more composed, positive-looking Sydney that took to the field desperate to salvage their season and restore faith among their disgruntled fans.
Last week some supporters unfurled banners calling for Farina’s head and that of chairman Scott Barlow and chief executive Tony Pignata.
This week they delivered another clear message: “SFC board we want action not words”.
And while the club management will meet with fans in another members forum on Tuesday, the players went some way to pacifying them with a victory.
Perth didn’t go down without a fight however, pressing the entire match with Rostyn Griffiths ensuring a tense finish by netting in the 67th minute after getting on the end of a Nebojsa Marinkovic ball to head home.
“I thought we did deserve something from the match,” Glory coach Kenny Lowe said.
“It was just a little bit of bad luck and a little bit of poor finishing.
“Today was a poor result but a decent performance.”