Brave Wanderers Push League Leaders


The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers pushed the Hyundai A-League leaders to the limit in a drama-charged contest in front of a huge crowd at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday night.

The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers pushed the Hyundai A-League leaders to the limit in a drama-charged contest in front of a huge crowd at Parramatta Stadium on Sunday night.

The Wanderers pressed the experienced Mariners outfit from the start to the final whistle, and it was only a little luck and a few puzzling decisions that combined to bring them down.

Even when the Wanderers were reduced to ten men early in the second half – they launched wave after wave at the Mariners who relied on the counter, sportsmanship and experience.

The scoreboard will show that Mariners won the contest 2-0 but the final goal near full time was all cruel luck with substitute Reece Caira accidentally passing to Mariners striker Daniel McBreen who was loitering in a radical offside position just outside the box.

The match was marred by several contentious decisions and referee Chris Beath enraged the majority of the 16,387-crowd, the second biggest in the Club-s history, and the Wanderers coaching staff with an inexplicable performance.

His urgency to hand several key Wanderers yellow cards in the first half that proved costly later in the match.

The Mariners used their guile and experience to get away with plenty.

The Wanderers felt they had two strong shouts for penalties which were denied.

The most telling blow to the home team was the two yellow cards to midfielder Jason Trifiro who left his team a man down in the 54th minute.
To be fair, both challenges were clear yellow cards and the rest of the team lifted in their work rate in the hot conditions to make amends.

The Mariners robust striker McBreen, who scored both goals, appeared to play with immunity throughout and crashed around at will.

It was his clinical finishing that was the difference in the end.

Despite the result, Coach Tony Popovic was happy with the way the team performed against strong competition and how they fought for the entire match.

“The result is disappointing for us; the fine margins didn-t really go our way to change the game but when we had ten men the boys kept going and we had a few opportunities,” Popovic said.

“I couldn-t be disappointed today with the performance, not one little bit.

“I thought we started the game very well and we pretty much dominated the possession and looked comfortable.

“When you-re playing the league leaders you-ve got to try and make the most of limited opportunities, because you don-t get very many.”

Popovic was also critical of some decisions made during the match by Beath.

“In general, his performance was terrible. Overall, it was very poor,” Popovic said.

As expected, both teams started strongly, tousling for possession early on in the match with the Wanderers pushing high.

Trifiro and Mariner Mile Sterjovski had some early chances on goal but were easily dealt with by both goalkeepers.

Kwabena Appiah-Kubi, who replaced suspended Youssouf Hersi on the flank, looked dangerous in attack and provided some exciting runs and opportunities for the red and blacks.

His speed and agility troubled the Mariners- backline in the 14th minute when he took on two defenders and only narrowly missed to the near-side.

In the 24th minute, Joey Gibbs was storming towards goal only to be taken down in a late tackle by Trent Sainsbury, who was the last line of defence.

Amazingly, Sainsbury only received a yellow card from Beath despite Gibbs having 20m of clear space and the keeper to beat when he was taken down.

The subsequent free kick taken by Aaron Mooy was strong, but high and wide.

Shannon Cole was unlucky not to put the Wanderers on the scoreboard in the 31st minute when his cross was only just cut off by keeper Matthew Ryan under pressure.

Strong midfield work from the Wanderers courtesy of Jerome Polenz and Shinji Ono was unlucky not to go rewarded in the first half, when a few late chances for Gibbs and Mark Bridge went begging.

The Mariners were able to make the first impact on the scoreboard in the 41st minute, when Daniel McBreen was able to beat two Wanderer defenders with some fancy footwork, before slotting the ball past Ante Covic at close range.

McBreen was a handful all night.

The Wanderers started the second half with some fierce attack and looked to be the more dominant team early-on.

This was evident in the 50th minute when an unbelievable goal line foot block from Pedj Bojic denied Ono-s bullet shot inches from the line.

It had looked a certain goal.

The Wanderers went a man down in the 54th minute when Trifiro was sent off after receiving his second yellow.

This didn-t dampen the Wanderers- attack with both Bridge and Polenz threatening the Mariners- defence with some close chances.

Substitute Labinot Haliti had the desired effect immediately after coming on in the 66th minute, when two of his headers narrowly missed their target, both going over the top of the cross-bar.

The physical contest continued in the late stages of the second half with both sides exchanging chances but neither team seemed to be able to make a dominant stand. T

he Wanderers were unlucky not to get several key calls.

McBreen was able to put the icing on the cake for the Mariners in the late stages of extra time after a defensive mix-up gave him the opportunity to put a shot from outside the 18 yard box in the back of an empty Wanderers goal.

Central Coast Mariners – 2 (McBreen 41- & 90+6-) def. Western Sydney Wanderers – 0