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Published January 16, 2021 at 21:04:33

Wanderers boss Robinson lauds ‘exceptional’ academy gem

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Western Sydney Wanderers coach Carl Robinson says he’s not surprised by Thomas Aquilina’s eye-catching start to A-League life.

The 19-year-old defender made just his second senior start at left wing-back for the Red and Black in Saturday night’s 1-1 draw with rivals Sydney FC. 

Aquilina had Socceroo Rhyan Grant and Anthony Caceres to contend with from his roaming position on the left flank but held his own impressively and almost sent Wanderers fans into raptures with a header that nearly broke the deadlock late on.

“It doesn’t surprise me one bit,” said Robinson when asked about the former Bossley Park High School student’s performance.

“That’s only his second full game. He was exceptional last week (against Newcastle Jets).

“He was exceptional again this week.

“The only disappointing thing for Tommy is that he probably should’ve scored.”

Aquilina

Aquilina was promoted to the Wanderers’ A-League squad on a two-year scholarship deal in December 2020. He started off in the club’s U15 squad and has represented the Young Socceroos.

The Wanderers fell behind to Kosta Barbarouses 63rd minute penalty on Saturday but equalised through James Troisi’s first goal for the club and preserved a five match unbeaten streak against the reigning Champions. 

Robinson added: “Sydney FC are the best team, they are the team that everyone wants to beat. 

“It’s a good marker for us early on in the season. We’re changing things in that locker room in terms of personnel and the playing style and sometimes it’s better to get these games early in the season.

“I thought we were exceptional in the second half. If there was another 10 minutes I would’ve fancied us to go and get the winner.”

Western Sydney visit Central Coast Mariners on Tuesday.