Sydney FC all but secured the A-League premiership, downing Melbourne Victory 1-0 at Allianz Stadium on Friday night.
Victory had an early opportunity to draw ahead, with Peter Green signalling Marco Rojas had been fouled by Michael Zullo while through on goal, but James Troisi sprayed the resultant free-kick.
The teams traded blows throughout the early stages but were unable to convert it on the board. Jai Ingham and Alex Brosque both sent shots wide from point blank range.
The Sky Blues broke the deadlock shortly after half-time though, when Filip Holosko picked up a poor Melbourne clearance to find an unmarked Bobo at the back post.
Ninkovic shines in another big fixture
The Serbian was the dominant presence on the ground in the Australia Day clash, whipping a ball in to find Holosko for an equaliser as Sydney recovered from a deficit to draw 11 points ahead.
He would not add to his season tally of eight goals and 10 assists on Friday night, but the midfield star captured the imagination of the fans that turned up – delivering a handful of audacious passes capped off with an ambitious shot that landed on the roof of the net.
His impact was greater than mere aesthetics, however, as surrounded by Victory players he would provide the outlet pass that led to the solitary goal of the match.
Defensive lapses hurt the Victory
A clearance from James Donachie fell into the lap of Holosko, who was able to deliver the ball to Bobo with Jason Geria having failed to track back and defend the goal.
Geria enjoyed a stellar season in 2015-16, linking up with Kosta Barbarouses on the right-side, but he is often caught too high and tends to put pressure on fellow defenders with poor clearances.
Instability at the back and the absence of Spanish centre-back Alan Baro likely contributed to the Victory’s malaise on the night, but a lack of care when distributing the ball and poor defensive running are issues that continually arise even when at full strength.
Weather, rugby and rivalry fatigue detract from turnout
Despite sitting comfortably atop the A-League table and hosting their oldest rivals, the Sky Blues attracted just 13,310 on a wet and wild night in the harbour city.
The opening round of the rugby league season likely detracted from the attendance somewhat, with matches at Belmore and ANZ Stadium running parallel to this fixture.
Enthusiasm for the rivalry may also be somewhat diminished as this was the third meeting between the teams of the 2016-17 campaign. With the FFA delaying expansion, this is not a problem that will go away any time soon.
Regardless, two sides with a storied rivalry and playing sharply contrasting but similarly brilliant football, should be doing so in front of larger crowds.