Western Sydney Wanderers FC remain winless in the Hyundai A-League this season after they were held to a 1-1 draw by fierce rivals Sydney FC in a pulsating derby at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday night.
In an enthralling – and at times heated – clash, the Wanderers flew out of the blocks and took a deserved lead through Tomi Juric but just like their first derby of the season couldn’t hold on.
Bernie Ibini’s superb individual goal just four minutes after Juric’s opener ensured a share of the spoils for the Sky Blues and maintains their unbeaten start to the season.
Marc Janko almost stole all three points in stoppage time but that would have been harsh on the home side who squandered a number of great chances in the first-half.
WHAT THEY SAID
"It's important not to drop points, we're still undefeated so we look forward to the game on Thursday night. It was a fairly intense game, it was pretty tough out there. We're happy to get the point." - Sydney FC striker Bernie Ibini
"We've been creating chances but unfortunately they haven't been going in. The wins are going to come, it's just going to take a little bit of time." - Wanderers striker Tomi Juric
1-0 Juric (30’) – Receiving the ball with his back to goal on the edge of the box, Juric slipped a pass through to Mark Bridge who looked certain to score but for a last-ditch tackle by Alex Gersbach. But the loose ball fell to Juric and he smashed it home from just eight yards out.
1-1 Ibini (34’) – A Wanderers corner was hacked down field by Sky Blues defender Pedj Bojic, setting up a foot race between Ibini and Seyi Adeleke. The Sydney FC winger got their first, turning back inside and blasting a shot from the edge of the box through the legs of Mateo Poljak and into the roof of the net.
--A slick move from the Wanderers ended with Mark Bridge slipping an inch-perfect pass through for the speedy Nikita Rukavytsya. The winger did everything right, poking the ball past ‘keeper Vedran Janjetovic and then reeled away to celebrate, only to see the ball bounce out off the post. Two minutes later Sydney equalised and they were back in the contest.
A mazy run by Wanderers winger Romeo Castelen looked like ending with a goal, when his scuffed shot deflected off Alex Gersbach and rolled towards the goal. But out of nowhere came Bojic who slid in with his right boot to clear the ball off the line with just inches to spare. Vedran Janjetovic’s stunning reflex save in first-half stoppage time to deny Mark Bridge was also a highlight and proved decisive.
Ali Abbas was hit in a crunching tackle by Iacopo La Rocca inside the first six minutes, with the Sky Blues midfielder forced from the field with a suspected ruptured anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee.
BACK TO THE DRAWING BOARD
Without the suspended Milos Dimitrijevic, Graham Arnold shifted Abbas back to central midfield and started striker Shane Smeltz on the left wing in a 4-2-3-1 formation. The Kiwi international hardly got on the ball in the first 30 minutes, with Arnold opting to change to a 4-4-2 with Smeltz going up front with Marc Janko and it worked a lot better for the visitors.
THE FINAL WORD
The Wanderers have just four days break before they host their grand final conquerors from last season Brisbane Roar on Wednesday night, while Sydney FC will tackle league-leaders Perth Glory at Allianz Stadium 24 hours later.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC: Covic, Hamill (Cole 70’, Spiranovic, Topor-Stanley, Adeleke, La Rocca (Baccus 73’), Poljak, Castelen (Saba 66’), Bridge, Rukavytsya, Juric
Sydney FC: Janjetovic, Bojic, Ryall, Petkovic, Gersbach, Ibini (Naumoff 81’), Antonis, Abbas (Grant 9’), Brosque, Smeltz (Jurman 90+3’), Janko
Scorers: Juric 30’, Ibini 34’
Red cards: none
Yellow cards: Topor-Stanley 12’, Gersbach 43’, Bridge 49’, Ryall 72’, Adeleke 90+2’
Conditions: 25C, Dry
Attendance: 19,138 @Pirtek Stadium