The Wanderers continue their undefeated streak as they moved to ten matches without loss after an entertaining 0-0 draw with Adelaide United.
Coming off eight wins in their past nine games, the NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers almost snatched the victory after a strong second half in front of 16, 312 fans at Wanderland but had to settle for a draw.
The stalemate leaves Tony Popovic’s side three points clear of Brisbane at the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder, whilst Adelaide, who could’ve entered the top six for the first time this season with a victory, remain one point off Wellington Phoenix in sixth.
Whilst the two sides were separated by 13 points prior to kick-off, there was less of a deviation in both the Wanderers and Adelaide’s respective styles with both teams’ commitment to sharp, artful possession football promising an intriguing encounter.
And whilst the match delivered on this score in a frantically entertaining and end-to-end first half, the second stanza saw both sides adopt a less cavalier approach as they settled for a hard-fought point.
Guillermo Amor’s Reds have settled into their groove in recent weeks after slow start to the season and almost made the perfect start when Bruce Djite was sent through on goal by Sergio Cirio but Andrew Redmayne made a great save.
In a similar fashion to Newcastle, the Wanderers started lethargically and were lucky not to be a goal behind. Sergio Cirio opened the scoring at Wanderland last season in a 2-1 win for the Wanderers and the Spaniard was inches away from repeating the feat when he controlled and dispatched a fantastic volley which smacked the underside of the bar.
The Wanderers struggled to generate sequences of possession from the back but eventually began to threaten Eugene Galekovic’s goal. Andreu’s lobbed effort was tipped over the bar by the Adelaide custodian before Scott Jamieson flashed a shot wide after an exciting run down the left wing.
Federico Piovaccari was in the thick of the action and the Italian thought he’d opened the scoring when he bustled through the Adelaide defence and slotted past Eugene Galekovic but referee Ben Williams had already called play back a foul on Michael Marrone.
Replays suggested it was a case of six of one half dozen of the other for the Wanderers: yet Popovic’s side were counting their lucky stars minutes later when Adelaide were denied a certain penalty when Michael Marrone was halted in the box by Nikolai Topor-Stanley.
Castelen and Piovaccari were denied by both Galekovic and an offside Mark Bridge respectively as the first half drew to a close – with the score somehow remaining scoreless.
The second half resumed with Adelaide flying out of the blocks as they did in the first stanza. Marcelo Carrusca swept a shot narrowly wide of the far post before Cirio went close with a bending effort from range.
The Reds were slowly retreating with each turnover which handed the Wanderers the initiative.
However, the home side were never truly able to spring into action with Adelaide getting numbers behind the ball as the Wanderers probed endlessly for a breakthrough.
The space in between the lines enjoyed in the first half by the likes of Nichols and Castelen began to dry up as the visitors worked tirelessly to deny the Red and Black an avenue towards goal.
It looked as though brute force, rather than cutting edge or artistry, was required to break the deadlock and Piovaccari almost provided the missing spark when slaloming through a pair of Adelaide defenders before curling a shot wide of the post.
Andrew Redmayne was rarely troubled in the second half but he produced a fantastic reaction save to deny Craig Goodwin’s ghosting header whilst Mark Bridge was unable to redirect an awkwardly flighted Vidosic cutback goalwards at the other end.
The Wanderers were afforded a final opportunity from the dead ball in stoppage time but Galekovic was equal to Mebrahtu’s curling free-kick.
Next up for the Wanderers is Melbourne City as the Red & Black travel to AAMI Park on Saturday 9 January. Kick-off is at 7:30pm with coverage on Fox Sports 505.