Quarantine no drawback as Cox eyes more goals to aid Wanderers’ finals push
One of the only things keeping Simon Cox going while he was stuck in a hotel room for 14 days isolation was the thrill of scoring vital goals in Western Sydney Wanderers’ quest for the Hyundai A-League finals.
And it didn’t take the Englishman long to make that sacrifice worth it, popping up with a late header to help the Wanderers snatch a 1-1 draw against Central Coast Mariners on Monday night.
Cox came off the bench with his side trailing 1-0 to the lowly Mariners but showed his poaching ability with a classy near-post run and glancing finish to spare the Wanderers’ blushes.
Like many of the Hyundai A-League’s imports, Cox returned to his native country during the competition hiatus, meaning he had to spend two weeks in hotel quarantine on his return to Australia.
Asked if he had second thoughts of returning given that scenario, Cox told Fox Sports: “That [quarantine] was tough but there was no doubt in my mind I was coming back.
“Goals like tonight show why I made that decision to come back.”
The Republic of Ireland international added: “For me it’s about going out there, expressing myself and showing why I was brought to the club.
“Just try and link up, get a hold of the ball at the top end of the pitch and try and create some havoc.
“Thankfully I was able to get the goal to get us back in the game but it wasn’t enough on the night.”
While the draw isn’t a fatal blow to the Wanderers’ top six hopes, they would have been banking on taking all three against the competition’s cellar-dwellers.
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Jean-Paul de Marigny’s side looked on course to do just that as they dominated the early exchanges but couldn’t maintain their ascendency, eventually falling behind early in the second half through Milan Duric’s goal.
“I just think we got a little bit complacent maybe,” said Cox when asked why the Wanderers didn’t ram home their early dominance.
“We were in the game but maybe got a bit frustrated in terms of not creating that many clear-cut chances.
“We had the one right at the end [of the first half] with Mo [Adam] who hit the bar but apart from that we weren’t really clinical enough in our play going forward.
“And it’s something that we have to work on. If we’re going to make the top six we have to be clinical in front of goal.”
Just being in contention for the top six is a place the Mariners would love to be.
Monday night’s result confirmed the club would finish the season in last place, the fourth time in the last five seasons they have picked up the wooden spoon.
It’s a frustrating scenario for all involved with the club, but none more so than skipper Matt Simon.
“If I’m honest it’s been quite tough for this club for the last five or six years,” the 34-year-old told Fox Sports.
“There’s no easy fix for that. It’s a salary cap league and you can’t just flick a switch unless someone has unlimited money and pumps it in, it’s not going to happen overnight.
“Five or six years of bad decisions is going to take a little while to fix.
“This year coming last again is not good enough and we need to keep working hard to turning things around and getting the club back to where it should be.”