Western Sydney Wanderers have come away with a solid 1-1 draw with Melbourne City at AAMI Park tonight.
In a vastly improved performance compared to last week’s loss to Brisbane Roar, the Red & Black were unlucky not to come away with all three points as they looked the side most likely to score in the second half.
Tate Russell, who had a terrific game, gave the Wanderers the lead after a great build up in the 21st minute before the home side equalised from the penalty spot just seven minutes later.
The Wanderers were probably the better side in the second 45 minutes causing City some anxious moments as they pressed forward at every opportunity.
The result keeps the Red & Black’s finals hopes well and truly alive. With four of their last six games at home they are poised to make a great charge for the top six.
Interim head coach Jordan-Paul de Marigny made three changes to the side beaten 3-1 by Brisbane Roar last week with Tass Mourdoukoutas, Jarrod Carluccio and Jordan O’Doherty coming in for Patrick Ziegler (suspended), Mathieu Cordier and Nick Sullivan.
It was an A-League debut for Wanderers Academy graduate Carluccio and he did not let the side down with a very solid performance.
It was a tough start for the Red & Black with the home side dominating the early stages though gilt-edged chances were few and far between.
Still, the Wanderers stuck to their task and were rewarded after a fabulous team goal saw Russell open then scoring on 21 minutes.
Mitch Duke provided a great diagonal ball to Russell who laid off to Nicolai Muller, who in turn played in Russell who hammered a shot into the net at the near post.
But, the lead was short-lived with City back on level terms after Jamie Maclaren converted from the spot after they were awarded a penalty just seven minutes later.
The two sides went into the break all square at 1-1.
City again looked solid in the opening minutes of the second half but the Wanderers were far from intimidated and they looked a threat whenever they went forward.
There were very few clear cut chances but it was the Red & Black who had a huge opportunity to take the lead on 69 minutes after an attempted headed pass back to the keeper was intercepted by Simon Cox.
He was left one on one with the keeper. His chip hit the goalkeeper but looked certain to roll into the empty net as he attempted the ball.
Incredibly, City defender Curtis Good made a miraculous clearance off the line to deny the Englishman.
De Marigny made several changes with Nick Sullivan coming on for Jordan O’Doherty in the 75th minute before he gave another A-League debut with Noah Pagden replacing Carluccio.
In the end, the game ended in a stalemate despite the Wanderers pushing forward and looking more dangerous in the final 15 minutes or so.