The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers fell victim to the ultimate sucker-punch as a counter-attack goal condemned them to a 1-0 loss against Adelaide City in the FFA Cup Round of 32.
In front of a vocal crowd at Marden Sports Complex, the Wanderers controlled play for the duration of the match but a breakaway by Thomas Love was enough to take the win and seal a night that will go down in Adelaide City folklore.
The first half was a typically dogged cup encounter with Adelaide City sitting deep attempting to hit in the counter while the Red & Black played sweeping football looking for gaps in the defence of the three time NSL Champions.
While chances were hard to come beit was the Wanderers who made all the inroads; none better than when Tomi Juric’s headed effort was blocked just short of the goalline.
The second half continued just as the first, except with the chances beginning to fall more often for the Hyundai A-League outfit.
Kwabena Appiah was the creator of the majority of chances, first teeing up Jaushua Sotirio before supplying Juric with two opportunities in the box.
One of which saw Juric turn and shoot towards goal only for the ball to be blocked by the hand of the defender. Deliberate or not was the question and when referee ____waved play on there were no arguments from the players.
Just as it felt as though it was only a matter of time until a Wanderers goal, Love picked up the ball in his own half and broke through to score past a desperate Ante Covic.
It was a cruel blow to what had been a good performance by the Red & Black so far, but such is the magic of cup football, and despite the introduction of the impressive Alusine Fofanah 1-0 was the final score.
Head Coach Tony Popovic said that the game showed positive signs for the season ahead.
“We were pleased with how we built the ball up to the final third but obviously we lacked the end product tonight,” Popovic explained.
“We controlled the game though for the amount of times we got in wide areas and got past the last man we didn’t have enough clear-cut opportunities so that’s something we’ll have to have a look at.
“We had enough of the ball we just didn’t make the right decisions and choices. We lacked that final ball or shot but we got it in a threatening area often enough.”
The Wanderers face Guangzhou Evergrande in the AFC Champions League Quarter Final on Wednesday 20 August at Parramatta Stadium.
NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers: 1: Ante COVIC, 3. Daniel MULLEN, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY (C), 6. Antony GOLEC, 8. Mateo POLJAK, 9. Tomi JURIC (7. Labinot HALITI 74’), 14. Kwabena APPIAH, 15. Yianni PERKATIS, 18. Iacopo LA ROCCA, 23. Jason TRIFIRO (19. Mark BRIDGE 60’), 26 Jaushua SOTIRIO (31. Alusine FOFANAH 83’)