October review: Wanderers stay perfect after homecoming, Western United make their mark
The three rounds played in October belonged to one team and one team only – Western Sydney Wanderers.
If the emotional return to the Red and Black’s spiritual home of Parramatta played out like a movie script, then the first Sydney Derby at the brand-new Wanderland unfolded like an Oscar-winning drama.
Local hero Mitchell Duke stepped into the starring role against the Wanderers’ bitter rivals Sydney FC, scoring a wonder header. After enduring a barrage of relentless attacks, Markus Babbel’s side hung on to a famous 1-0 victory in a fully-charged Bankwest Stadium clash.
A 2-1 opening round triumph against Central Coast Mariners kick-started Western Sydney’s charge, followed by an upset win by the same score against Melbourne Victory – then came the iconic match which ended with captain Duke leading the dancing in front of the Red and Black faithful.
That night to remember in the Harbour City’s west capped a thrilling month that left Western Sydney top of the ladder with a perfect three-win record, with Melbourne City on seven points, and Sydney FC on six, in close pursuit.
The fairytale would not continue, with a free-falling Wanderers winning only one of their next 11 matches, but – in that moment – the Red and Black dared to dream. Read on to review the key moments of October.
Hyundai A-League history was made in Round 1, not only with Duke’s double earning Wanderers an epic homecoming win but also with newcomers, Western United, making their mark with a 1-0 triumph against Wellington Phoenix in the New Zealand captain.
The foundation club’s head coach, Mark Rudan, received a frosty reception against his former club but the returning competition top goalscorer, Besart Berisha, had the final word with a 34rd-minute match-winner to write his name into Green and Black folklore.
Robbie Fowler avoided defeat on his Hyundai A-League debut in the dugout thanks to Roy O’Donovan’s 94th-minute equaliser in a 1-1 draw against Perth Glory, while Victory and City battled out a 0-0 draw in the Melbourne Derby.
In the season opener, Ryan McGowan grabbed a late winner on his Sydney FC debut in a 3-2 win against ten-man Adelaide – with a certain breakout star, Al Hassan Toure, also notching a goal while taking his senior bow.
The opening pages of the Western United history book continued to be written in Round 2 with their inaugural home match against Perth Glory. And the Green and Black's first ever signing seized his moment, as Panagiotis Kone struck a sweet opener in another 1-1 draw for Perth Glory at GMHBA Stadium.
Mariners import Milan Duric made it two goals in two games with a superb back-post volley in a deadlocked 1-1 F3 Derby draw against Newcastle Jets, and Sydney FC edged ten-man Wellington Phoenix, 2-1, with Rhyan Grant scoring the decisive goal.
Melbourne City gained a measure of revenge on Adelaide United, following the Reds’ 4-0 FFA Cup Final loss, with a 2-1 win thanks to Jamie Maclaren's double.
Meanwhile, business continued to pick up for the Wanderers, with Keanu Baccus hitting a thunderbolt to open the scoring in the 2-1 road win against Melbourne Victory – a strike that could be in the Goal of the Season conversation come the end of the campaign.
The last two Premiers, Perth Glory and Melbourne Victory, finally got off the mark in Round 3 with Bruno Fornaroli netting his first goal in Glory colours in the 2-1 win against Wellington Phoenix, watch that below.
The ’Big V’ kicked off the round with Andrew Nabbout’s goal earning a 1-0 win against Brisbane Roar on Friday, before Riley McGree netted his second and third strikes of the campaign in a 2-1 win against Newcastle Jets in the Hunter.
Duke reached three goals for the season in Wanderers’ stunning 1-0 win over the champions, Sydney FC, while Western United suffered a setback in their first Victorian Derby, with Maclaren at the double once again as ten-man Melbourne City grabbed a late winner, watch that goal below.
Heading into November, Western Sydney were the only team with a 100% record, while Wellington were the only team yet to get off the mark with three straight defeats. Brisbane Roar, Newcastle Jets and Central Coast Mariners were all looking for their first victories.