The Australia Cup final will have a “State of Origin” feel after Brisbane Roar and Sydney FC reached next month’s decider with wins over two Melbourne teams on Sunday.
In an all-A-League semi-final at AAMI Park, Sydney beat Melbourne City 2-1, while the Roar’s 1-0 win came a few hours later at the expense of NPL Victoria club Melbourne Knights.
The Roar became the third Brisbane team in less than 24 hours to reach the decider of a national competition, following in the footsteps of the AFL’s Lions and the NRL’s Broncos, thanks to a first-half goal from teenage striker Thomas Waddingham in front of more than 5000 fans at Knights Stadium.
The final will be played on the weekend of October 7-8 at a yet-to-be determined venue.
It will be the Roar’s first Australia Cup final, while the Sydneysiders – who lifted the Cup in 2017 – will be playing in their fourth decider.
Roar star Jay O’Shea, who created Waddingham’s goal, said the final presented the Roar with a “great chance” to win silverware for the first time since winning the third of their three A-League titles in 2014.
“We’re taking it one game at a time, not getting too carried away, but it’s a great chance for us and we’re really looking forward to the final,” O’Shea told Network 10.
“It would mean a lot to us if we could get our hands on some silverware, especially for the Brisbane fans who have stuck with us through thick and thin.”
Meanwhile, the Sydneysiders had to survive a late scare against City, who were gifted a goal in the 89th minute when trailing 2-0 after Sydney striker Patrick Wood had a brain snap in attempting a needless back pass to his goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne.
City’s Socceroos striker Jamie Maclaren pounced on the errant pass to score and ensure a nervous stoppage-time period for the visitors. However, Sydney held on to secure a deserved win.
Wood had earlier given his side a first-half lead when he scored his fourth goal in four Australia Cup games this year, after making the most of a superb through ball from classy Englishman Joe Lolley, defying a tight angle to smash his shot into the roof of City’s net.
Lolley doubled Sydney’s lead in the 73rd minute with a shot that took a deflection off City defender Samuel Souprayen before looping over outstretched goalkeeper Jamie Young.
Wood and Lolley were also denied by the woodwork, while City substitute Max Caputo also hit the post after the hosts had gone two goals behind.
It was part of a frustrating afternoon for City, who were backing up after a disappointing 0-0 AFC Champions League home draw with Japanese second-tier club Ventforet Kofu last Wednesday night.
“We started a little bit slow, gave up possession quite easily, and they’re a good side so they will punish you at times,” City captain Maclaren said.
“We huffed and puffed but in the end, we’re still not creating enough. Even my goal was (from) a mistake by them, so … just head down and work on the things that need fine-tuning.”
Sydney captain Luke Brattan, while not entirely satisfied with his side’s display, was happy to be leaving Melbourne with a semi-final victory and for his club to earn the chance of winning the Cup for a second time.
“It wasn’t the greatest performance from us but it was professional,” said ex-City midfielder Brattan.
“It’s a hard place to come. They’re a fantastic team. It’s good to come here and win, and there’s silverware up for grabs, so the boys are happy.”