SYDNEY (AP) — Sydney FC ended one of the most trying weeks in its history with a 2-1 win over Perth in the A-League on Saturday, regaining a place in the top six with only its second win in the last nine games.
Sydney was forced during the week to quell a fan revolt after protests marred last weekend's 3-0 home loss to Adelaide.
Fans unfurled banners during the Adelaide match calling for the sacking of head coach Frank Farina, board chairman Scott Barlow and chief executive Tony Pignata. When stadium security reacted by tearing down the banners and evicting spectators, including the wife of the head of Sydney's main supporters group, fans left en masse and protested outside the ground.
Reports of disaffection among players led to further criticism from fans and increased pressure on Farina.
Australian media reported that Farina banned senior players Matt Thompson and Nicky Carle from training, forcing them to train alone, for what he called dissent and their "negative influence" on the team. That move followed the players' reported refusal to follow Farina's instructions during the Adelaide match.
Captain and former Italy star Alessandro Del Piero was reported to have taken a leading role on Thursday in a closed-door meeting of players which sought to re-establish team unity.
Club officials met with representatives of the main supporters' group, The Cove, in the hope of achieving a reconciliation and winning back fan support. Statements from supporters after the 3 ½-hour meeting between seven fan representatives and four board members, however, suggested that tensions still remain.
Another meeting will be held on Tuesday and the ill feeling may have eased a bit after Saturday's win over Perth in front of 11,160 fans at Allianz Stadium.
Ranko Despotovic put Sydney ahead in the 17th minute with his sixth goal in 12 games and Terry Antonis, returning from injury to play his first match in eight months, scored the winning goal in the 65th. Perth pulled one back two minutes later to make the last 15 minutes nervous for Farina and the team's fans.
"We had to win, it's as simple as that," Farina said. "It's a big pressure and they handled it extremely well."
Argentine Marcelo Carrusca scored one goal and helped create another as Adelaide United beat Central Coast 2-0, continuing the form that has seen them lose only once in their last 10 games.
Carrusca opened the scoring in the 33rd minute, driving home a sweet, left-foot shot from 10 meters, then providing the pass from which winger Fabio Ferreira scored his sixth goal of the season 13 minutes later.
"For me, it is maybe the best game that we have played because we played the style and also we didn't make mistakes," Adelaide coach Josep Gombau said. "But in the end, it's one more game. There are eight more."
Newcastle and the Melbourne Heart both had significant wins Sunday. Melbourne beat Wellington 5-0 away for their fourth win in the last five games, though they remained in 10th place.
Newcastle moved up one place to eighth after a 1-0 win away to league leaders Brisbane.