Friday night’s 1-1 draw in Adelaide might not seem like a crash hot result on paper but there was much to be happy about after the Wanderers picked up their first point of the season.Here’s what we saw.
Positive result, positive performance
Adelaide in Adelaide is one of the Hyundai A-League’s toughest prospects – they’ve only lost once in their last 10 matches at home – and so Tony Popovic would’ve classed the result as a passing grade.
Though he’ll definitely be thinking that he could’ve and possibly should’ve walked away with more.
The Wanderers moved the ball forward with relative aplomb and carved out a string of solid, punishable chances – only to be come undone by hesitant decision-making or a desperate last-ditch Adelaide lunge.
While we’re obviously still lacking a certain final-third polish, the way in which we’re creating is mighty encouraging.
There was also a noticeable improvement in our defensive structure: Hamill looked more at ease than he was against Brisbane, while Andrew Redmayne was fantastic both in terms of his shot-stopping and his distribution.
The Reds are one of the league’s most dangerous sides going forward so the fact that we were able to keep them at bay for majority of the match shows great promise.
It might be more what we already know rather than what we learned, but Romeo Castelen sure can play.
The Dutchman was a constant menace from start to finish, carrying the ball forward with purpose and always seemingly able to get that crucial half-yard on his marker.
The diminutive winger is just as happy operating in tight spaces as he is with acres ahead of him and the Adelaide defence struggled to hatch a plan to contain him.
Perhaps he may have held onto the ball for that touch too long on a couple of occasions but Castelen’s link-up play, particularly with Mitch Nichols, was impressive.
Pundits and fans alike certainly saw it that way: both Fox Sports and Wanderers Members named the 32-year-old man of the match.
We’ve been drumming on about it throughout pre-season, but if Castelen can keep himself fit and carry on with what he’s been producing so far, he’ll be one of our most important player’s this season.
Andreu shows character
As far as starting debuts go, an own-goal probably isn’t the greatest way to kick things off.
Though you can tell what kind of player Andreu is by the way he carried on thereafter.
A lesser man would’ve let himself be weighed down after such an incident but we’re talking about a seasoned professional who was groomed by the very best.
The Barcelona native struck the right unassuming chords in his holding midfield role, providing the balance and composure to compatriot Dimas’ gung-ho combativeness.
Without that composure, we would’ve gone home empty handed.
Andreu could’ve quite easily struck Tarek Elrich’s gift of a clearance first time and pray that it made its way through a sea of bodies.
Yet the midfielder showed poise and presence of mind to bring the ball under control and shimmy it past Dylan McGowan before picking his spot and slotting home.
It’s always pleasing to see your new foreign signings find their feet early in their tenures, especially when a certain game is just around the corner…
Derby ripe for the picking
It could be that we’ve been bitten by the optimism bug but we think things are shaping up nicely ahead of Saturday’s 10th Sydney Derby.
As the old adage goes, prior results mean little when it comes to games like this and that suits us rather fine.
Last night’s performance was a step above our display in what was a flattering opening-day victory for Brisbane Roar and there’s every chance that we’ll once again take things up another gear in Round 3.
Marquee man Dario Vidosic has been slowly accumulating minutes and could be primed to start, while there’s a chance Mark Bridge, Brendon Santalab and Alberto could be fit for selection.
A sell-out crowd is expected and for most of our players, they’ll be spurred on by what will be their first taste of the most electrifying atmosphere they’ll be able to experience in this league.
What’s more, two of our three derby wins have come away at Allianz Stadium so we know how to get the job done behind enemy lines.
It’ll be tight and odds are it won’t be pretty, but there’s no doubt a third derby victory would show the boys from the East who really runs this town.