Le Fondre at the double as Sydney FC see off Western United to go top


Le Fondre’s brace brought his total of goals to 25 in 36 starts for the Sky Blues, and he has now become Sydney’s third highest goalscorer, with only Bobo and club stalwart Alex Brosque ahead of him.

Western coach Mark Rudan left Besart Berisha out of the starting line up, restoring veteran forward Scott McDonald to the team.

Nodding off: Josh Risdon intercepts and clears for Western United.Credit:Getty Images

Berisha had reacted poorly when taken off in the loss to Central Coast Mariners, although both parties had been quick to proclaim there was no rift between manager and striker.

Rudan had said before the club began its first A-League campaign that he always planned to rotate his senior front line players of whom Berisha, at 34, is the youngest.

Western has now lost its last three matches, including three of five home fixtures: it’s a worrying statistic for a team that is struggling to attract interest from supporters in the Geelong region.

Rudan has in recent weeks complained about his team’s slow starts but he would have been pleased to see them begin with brio on this occasion.

Fair play: Sky Blues coach Steve Corica (left) and Western United counterpart Mark Rudan after the game.

Fair play: Sky Blues coach Steve Corica (left) and Western United counterpart Mark Rudan after the game.Credit:Getty Images

Sadly for him and the knot of United faithful the profligate finishing which characterised their defeat against Central Coast last week was once again in evidence.

Although Sydney was on the back foot early Western could not make their possession count. McDonald headed wide from Josh Risdon’s cross after the latter linked with Dario Jertec and Sydney, after a sluggish 15 minutes, began to get into the game.

Corica’s side have been the most prolific team in the league this season from corners, having netted four times from set pieces while Western were only one of three teams (including Sydney) who had not conceded from a corner.

Something had to give, and in the 27th minute it was Western’s defence. Alexander Baumjohann’s corner from the left  arced to the edge of the six yard box and Le Fondre rose above Connor Chapman to head past Filip Kurto.

Kosta Barbarouses had a chance to double the lead when the ball fortuitously fell to him from a deflection, but he could not take advantage of the situation, while at the other end McDonald was denied by a well timed late challenge by Brandon O’Neill.

Sydney effectively killed the game in first half stoppage time, and once again it was Le Fondre who did the damage.

O’Neill fed Baumjohann with a slick pass on the right, the German attacker sending over a cross which Le Fondre drove home.

Best in the west: United fans show their support during the round eight A-League match between at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong,

Best in the west: United fans show their support during the round eight A-League match between at GMHBA Stadium in Geelong, Credit:Getty Images

Rudan looked to shake things up in the second half by introducing Berisha for Kwabena Appiah Kubi, who had started up front.

Italian star Alessandro Diamanti drove over from a free kick, Berisha’s acrobatic overhead kick flew wide, and just after the hour mark Rudan had emptied his bench by bringing on Dyland Pierias for McDonald and Max Burgess for Jertec.

Diamanti’s 77th minute effort was blocked and Andrew Redmanye dived to stop Panagiotis Kone’s 84th minute shot, but that was as close as the hosts could get.

Rudan could only admire Sydney’s professionalism and rue his side’s inability to take what chances came their way.

”We spoke all week about how ruthless Sydney are, they don’t need too many chances.

”I wasn’t happy with the lack of intensity (after the game broke for an injury to Sydney defender Ryan McGowan). We seemed to be second to every ball.

”It was a very thorough professional performance by Sydney FC.

Sky Blues coach Steve Corica admitted his side had not been on top form.

”Sometimes you don’t play that well but still manage a 2-0 win, which is pleasing.

”It wasn’t our best performance with the ball, but it was our best defensively, a clean sheet was very important.”

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