Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic feels the better team lost the derby and says his side were denied a fair goal which could have changed the result.
The Wanderers went a fifth straight derby without a win, going down 1-0 to the Sky Blues at Allianz Stadium after Milos Ninkovic’s 88th-minute goal.
But things could have been a whole lot different for the visitors had Jaushua Sotirio’s header in first-half stoppage time been allowed to stand.
The youngster produced a clever flicked header from Mitch Nichols’ cross, only to be denied by a marginal offside call.
“It’s a goal. If its line ball and we’re supposed to be giving the attacking team an advantage then that’s a goal,” a disappointed Popovic said afterwards.
“If it’s clearly off, it’s clearly off but that wasn’t clearly off.
“On another day that flag stays down. A different linesman it stays down so for me that should be a goal. And it changes everything.”
While that decision infuriated the Wanderers boss, he was lavish in the praise of his side despite a third straight week without a win.
“We were clearly the better side, not probably better but clearly better,” Popovic said of his team’s performance.
“It’s tough. The players are quiet now but on the other hand they know we are building something here.
“They see it, they feel it in their performances. We’re getting better, day-by-day, wee-by-week. Every game we’ve improved and to play that well in a derby away from home against a very stable team, that’s a real positive.
“The only negative is we didn’t pick up a result. If we had got the result tonight playing like that everything would have been fine.
The players, like me, go home tonight disappointed with the result but when I wake up tomorrow I’ll know we’ve got something.”
The Wanderers’ chances were cruelled by two hamstring injuries to Romeo Castelen after just eight minutes, as well as Scott Neville in the second half.
Popovic said he’s unsure of the extent of the injuries but admitted it affected their cohesion on the night.
He also threw his support behind striker Federico Piovaccari who had another ineffective showing against Sydney FC’s Matt Jurman and Jacques Faty.
“He’s a striker and strikers need goals. Once he gets that first one I think you’ll see the real player that we signed,” Popovic said of the Italian.
“At the moment when he does get a clear opportunity it hasn’t fallen for him but you can see there’s something there.
“That pace, that power, he causes defenders problems. He just needs one to fall for him and like the team when that happens we’ll see a turning of results.”
The Wanderers return to Pirtek Stadium next Sunday to take on Westfield FFA Cup finalists Perth Glory.