Bentleigh Greens – Match Report Vs Sydney FC (10/08/2022)

Victoria NPL side Bentleigh Greens fell 2-1 against Sydney FC in the Australia Cup. Bentleigh looked the better side for most of the first half, though they struggled a bit to create clear-cut chances. But as the game wore on, Sydney’s superior conditioning and quality gradually began to take over the game. Bentleigh played in a 4-2-3-1. They pressed very aggressively and basically went route 1 every time they got the ball. Sydney played a 4-3-3 with a more considered build-up. Sydney struggled to keep control of the match at first but over time they established who the full-time pros were. 

Ratings:

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, rewatch
  • D – Below average in this match

Ajak Riak 

Player Profile: 

  • Nationality: Australian
  • Age: 22
  • Date of Birth: 10/12/2000
  • Current Club: Bentleigh Greens
  • Career: Inglewood United 
  • Position: Striker
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Ajak Riak played as a striker in this match and was the main focal point of every Bentleigh Greens attack. He was the target of every cross, long ball, and long throw-in. Riak was able to use his tall lanky frame, speed, and decent technical ability to cause serious problems for the Sydney FC defence. Riak spent a lot of the game pressing the Sydney FC backline. He was very quick to close defenders down and that was a serious factor in Sydney’s inability to build out of the back, especially in the first half. On several occasions, he came within inches of stripping a defender of the ball and being through on goal, with only frantic last-minute manoeuvres sparing the blushes of the A-League defenders.

Riak was the target of a lot of long balls and as such, he did a lot of hold-up play. He was quite good at protecting the ball with his body. Because he is so big and lanky he often looked a bit awkward with the ball at his feet but he did not lose the ball very often. That said, he did not create a ton of chances with his passing or dribbling. He was perfectly capable of keeping the ball under pressure and laying off to a teammate but he wasn’t able to do anything particularly special to set up teammates in this match.

He was quite quick with the ball at his feet but a bit lacking in creativity when it came to dribbling. Riak was a regular danger in the penalty area, where his size and leaping ability were a real asset. Even if he did not win a header he created problems just by sucking a bunch of defenders to him. He created quite a lot of mad scrambles in the box just by being there and being huge. Riak is also very quick for how big he is and had one good chance off of a ball played in behind. 

Rating – A1

Riak gave an A-League level defence a lot of problems while getting service from NPL level teammates. Based on this performance I think he could definitely play in the A-League, though his middling technical ability would probably prevent him from rising much higher than that (not that that’s anything to be ashamed of, the A-League is a perfectly respectable league). If that offer is not forthcoming he could also do well in smaller European leagues or because he is Australian, his status as an Asian player might make him an interesting prospect for Japanese or Korean teams looking for a bargain.  

Maceo Jones

Player Profile:

  • Nationality: Australian 
  • Age: 19
  • Date of Birth: 11/06/2003
  • Current Club: Bentleigh Greens
  • Career: Melbourne Victory (Y), Bentleigh Greens
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Maceo Jones turned in a reasonable performance at centre-back in this match. Jones mostly kept things simple, both with the ball and defending. He was generally quite a passive defender, mostly sitting back and letting the game come to him. He did a reasonable job in physical battles, he is quite big though not a colossus. He was usually well positioned to make interventions, though he would not go out of his way to do so. He was good at covering for teammates who were caught out of position. However, sometimes he was a bit slow to close players down and there was one incident where he made a really strange attempt to block a cross that did not work out. He looked like he was trying to do a backheel volley clearance but in any case, it almost led to a goal against.

With the ball, he mostly played it safe to teammates but he did show the ability to play long-range passes with accuracy. So that is perhaps an area of his game that can be developed further. It must be said, Jones was at fault for Sydney’s second goal of the match. First, he was forced to give away a corner when his attempt to dribble out of the back went awry. Secondly, he did a very poor job of marking eventual goal scorer Aaron Gurd. So consistency and decision-making are things to work on for sure. But this is to be expected for a 19-year-old centre-back. Especially when playing for a semi-pro team against a team that played in the AFC Champions League last season. 

Rating – A2

Jones is probably a few years away from being A-League ready but this was quite an encouraging performance overall. One to keep an eye on. 

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