Match Preview: Wanderers v Perth

The Western Sydney Wanderers will have their fourth game at CommBank Stadium in a row when they host the Perth Glory on Saturday night.

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In the first three games of this stretch in Parramatta, they recorded two wins and a loss, with their last match in the A-League’s Unite Round seeing them triumph 1-0 over Melbourne City thanks to a Dylan Pierias first half goal.

Despite the close nature of the scoreline, the Wanderers were in control for much of the match and limited star striker Jamie Maclaren to just four touches of the ball before he was substituted in the 72nd minute.

It was a game where the Wanderers’ young talent stood out, with Alex Bonetig putting in a composed and assured performance at centre-back, Oscar Priestman was an energetic and impactful presence in the midfield, and Alex Badolato got a fantastic assist for Pierias’ goal with a lovely through ball that split City’s defence.

It was a game where VAR was heavily involved, disallowing Marcus Antonsson’s third minute goal after a lengthy delay, and also concluded Josh Brillante did not handle the ball in the box deep into stoppage time, to the frustration of Melbourne City keeper Jamie Young, who was carded for his protests.

Coach Marko Rudan praised his players post-match for the way they controlled the match and were able to deal with a strong Melbourne City side, and he will be looking for more of the same against the Glory as the Wanderers look to win back-to-back matches for just the second time this season.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – JANUARY 12: Wanderers players celebrate at full-time during the A-League Men round 12 match between Melbourne City and Western Sydney Wanderers at CommBank Stadium, on January 12, 2024, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Brendon Thorne/Getty Images)

They will feel confident of doing so, having already defeated the Glory at CommBank Stadium back in November, where two second-half goals from full backs Jack Clisby and Tate Russell secured a deserved 2-0 victory for the Red and Black.

It has been a difficult season for Perth so far; Tony Sage relinquished ownership of the club at the start of the season, and a takeover bid fell through, meaning the club is currently being run by the Australian Professional Leagues (APL).

Despite having top coach Alen Stajcic and talented players like Adam Taggart and Stefan Colakovski in their ranks, the Glory have only won two matches all season and are currently on a three-match losing streak.

Their latest defeat came in a seven goal thriller against the Wellington Phoenix, where they went ahead thanks to Taggart, but eventually fell to a 4-3 defeat that left them second from bottom of the A-League Men ladder.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA – NOVEMBER 11: Jack Clisby of the Wanderers celebrates scoring a goal with teammates during the A-League Men round four match between Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory at CommBank Stadium, on November 11, 2023, in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Mark Metcalfe/Getty Images)

Their plight has been compounded by Stajcic’s statement the club is unable to sign any new players until their ownership situation has been resolved.

Their attack has been impressive, with 21 goals in the first 12 games actually being more than what the Wanderers have achieved so far this season; it is their defence that is costing them dearly, having conceded a league high 28 goals, including four against the Phoenix and against the Mariners in a New Years Eve defeat.

Their record against the Wanderers away from home is also poor, having failed to win in Parramatta since 2020, when former Wanderers legend Tony Popovic was in the Glory dugout for a 1-0 win.

The Wanderers’ November win over Perth means the head-to-head ledger sits even at 12 wins apiece alongside nine draws, with the home team traditionally being dominant in the fixture.

After this clash, the Wanderers face four of their next five fixtures away from home, meaning they will be desperate for a win that will continue their momentum ahead of their travels, as well as giving them a chance to jump to second on the ladder.