Sydney Derby: Wanderers paint the town Red and Black as McDonald scores decider on club debut
Western Sydney Wanderers forward Scott McDonald scored on his club debut to help the Red and Black extended its unbeaten Sydney Derby run to six games with a 3-1 win over Sydney FC at Bankwest Stadium on Saturday night.
Wanderland was teeming with drama, tension and the colours and noise of an energetic crowd divided in its loyalty as fans of both sides were treated to a dramatic goal-fest which ended 3-2 in Western Sydney's favour.
The Red and Black went two goals ahead after a four-minute spell in the first half in which Bruce Kamau and Mitchell Duke both found the back of the net.
The vibrant crowd roared with every 50/50 challenge and clash of players committed to their respective causes, as a series of heated moments broke out after challenges from Miloš Ninkovič on Jordon Mutch, Kamau on Rhyan Grant and Duke on Ryan McGown throughout the first half.
The home fans were silenced early in the second 45 when Alex Wilkinson buried a well-executed header from an Alexander Baumjohann corner into the back of the net to bring it back to 2-1. Bobô had chances to sew it up in the aftermath before McDonald headed home the goal which ultimately proved the difference by full-time.
The away side received an 82nd-minute penalty decision after Graham Dorrans went shoulder-to-shoulder with Trent Buhagiar in the box - the minutes that passed from the resulting VAR check built pressure on Bobô to finish from the spot, and that pressure showed when the Brazilian's strike blazed high over the bar.
But, the drama had not yet played out at Bankwest Stadium. Anthony Caceres and Ninković combined in stoppage time down the left flank to hand Bobö another chance to net for the Sky Blues, which he gratefully took from close range to notch his 50th A-League goal, and bring his side within one of an unlikely draw.
In the end, the difference between one point and none was a coat of paint for the Sky Blues, after Caceres' last-gasp bending strike from long range cannoned off the underside of the crossbar and dropped into the danger zone to be cleared by the Wanderers under immense pressure from the circling Sydney forwards.
The final whistle blew after seven minutes of stoppage time with the Wanderers ahead three goals to two, sending the Red and Black into seventh whilst depriving Sydney FC the chance to go one point off Melbourne City at the top of the table.
The Sky Blues started the better of the two teams, but quickly found themselves two goals down after a ruthless four-minute spell by the Red and Black which saw the hosts take a commanding lead with just 16 minutes on the clock.
Baumjohann crafted a pair of early chances for Sydney in an outing against his former side, but after forfeiting the early control the Wanderers roared into life, finding the back of the net for the first time on the night through an assured Kamau finish.
The red-hot Wanderers forward hammered a first-time shot off the post and in after Ziggy Gordon's ball from the right flank found Kamau in space in the box.
Before the Sky Blues had time to catch their breath, Western Sydney's lead was doubled. Troisi and Kamau were involved once more as the home side invaded down the left wing, with the former finding the latter to tear toward goal.
Kamau fed Bernie Ibini on the edge of the box, and the Wanderers' forward produced a deft touch on the turn to play the ball into Duke's path, who buried his third goal in four Sydney Derby appearances. The home fans rose to their feet in unison to rock the stands at Bankwest Stadium as their side opened up a two-goal lead.
Tempers flared in Wanderland in the aftermath of the Wanderers' second goal of the night. Ninković collected Mutch with a heavy challenge which sparked a heated coming-together of players from both sides, before a similar situation unfolded when Duke and Brattan went face to face after the Wanderers forward put a committed challenge in on Ryan McGowan.
A volleyed Ninković lofted through pass sent Bobô in on goal in the 24th minute, but the resulting shot lacked the clinical edge so often displayed in the Brazilian striker's play as it floated over the crossbar.
A pair of committed 50/50 challenges between Brattan and Duke, and Kamau and Rhyan Grant occurred in the space of seconds in first-half added time as neither set of players were willing to give an inch in an opening 45 which ended with the hosts holding firm to their two-goal advantage.
Sydney FC came out after the break with a mountain to climb, but the visiting side's journey back to parity began on the right foot when Wilkinson headed Baumjohann's corner delivery neatly past Daniel Margush into the corner of goal to cut the deficit in half.
The Sky Blues turned up the heat on the hosts in the aftermath of the Wilkinson goal. A Baumjohann cross fired to the front post in the 54th minute deflected off the unknowing Bobô and flashed past the post in what would have been a fortuitous moment for the away side should the ball have squirmed the right side of the upright.
Baumjohann continued to create down the right wing, playing a sharp ball into the path of Kosta Barbarouses but putting too much pace on the pass which evaded his teammate's outstretched boot.
The Wanderers absorbed the pressure to fire a reply in the 74th minute through McDonald on debut, restoring a two-goal advantage over the Sky Blues.
McDonald arrived in Wanderland earlier in the week, and arrived off the bench to leave his mark on the game after losing the marker of Brattan to head the ball off the deck and into the top-right corner.
Drama ensued in the final minutes of the contest, ignited by a divisive decision to award a penalty for Graham Dorrans' shoulder-to-shoulder challenge on Trent Buhagiar in the penalty box.
The initial decision was upheld by a VAR check, and Bobô stepped up to the spot with the chance to bring his side back to within one goal - but the attempt from the spot was blazed high over the crossbar.
Down but not out, Sydney FC made a late charge to rescue an unlikely point. Bobö had missed from the spot, but minutes later he was presented another chance which the Brazilian gladly took after a magnificent piece of interplay between Caceres and Ninković.
Poised with the ball on the left wing, Caceres fed Ninković on the edge of the box and received the ball back to drive through a sea of Red and Black chasers. Caceres looked up and fed Bobô in the six-yard box, where the Sky Blues striker sent the ball over the line with the outside of his right boot whilst falling to the floor to give his side a glimmer of hope heading into the deep minutes of extra time.
Buoyed by his part in Sydney's second goal, Caceres set about earning a point off his own boot when he unleashed a shot from outside the box which looked to have Margush beaten, only to see it cannon off the woodwork and drop into a dangerous position where the Wanderers cleared the danger.
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