Sydney FC fans rebel as A-League slump continues

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SYDNEY (AP) - A-League glamor club Sydney FC faces a fan revolt after its 3-0 loss to Adelaide United in the weekend’s 18th round left it clinging precariously to playoffs contention.

Diehard fans, who occupy an area called The Cove at Allianz Stadium, unfurled banners calling for the sacking of coach Frank Farina, chairman Scott Barlow and chief executive Tony Pignata as their team crashed to a club record third straight loss at home.

Media reports said a drink was thrown over Farina during the match and fans staged a mass walkout as Adelaide inflicted Sydney’s fourth loss in five games.

Sydney’s plight became more dire on Sunday when the Wellington Phoenix beat Newcastle 3-2, nudging Sydney further down the standings. The Melbourne Heart also continued its mid-season resurgence, beating Perth 2-1.

Farina refused to criticize fans who have made him the target of their protests and said he understood their frustration.

“It’s a tough gig at Sydney and people have frustrations and I’m frustrated and that’s the bottom line,” he said. “For me it’s about concentrating on the game and what’s at hand.

“Things that you can try and control; those things are out of my control. I don’t want to make any negative comments on those things, especially our fans.”

Sydney FC management later apologized to fans for the over-zealous actions of security guards who tore down banners and evicted the wife of the head of The Cove supporters group.

“The club has always believed that every fan has the right to peacefully and respectfully voice their opinions and this is a principle that we will uphold,” Sydney FC said in a statement. “In relation to the eviction, we are also disappointed and regret that this incident occurred.”

Goals to Bruce Djite and Fabio Ferreira during a dominant first-half performance from Adelaide left Sydney with little hope of arresting its slump and substitute Jeronimo Neumann further angered home fans with a goal in the second half. Fans began to leave after 20 minutes and The Cove was nearly empty after halftime.

Adelaide leap-frogged Sydney into fifth place and has lost only one of its last 10 games.

Sydney’s crosstown rivals, the Western Sydney Wanderers, earned a hard-fought 1-1 draw in a top-of-the-table clash with Brisbane.

Albanian striker Besart Berisha gave first-place Brisbane the lead after 13 minutes in a fast-paced match at the Wanderers’ Pirtek Stadium and second-place Western Sydney equalized through Labinot Haliti with five minutes remaining.

“These players don’t know how to give up,” Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said. “They kept going even though we conceded early in the first half.

“We could have felt sorry for ourselves because we were dominating the game and not scoring. That is human nature. But we never gave up hope.”

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