The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers remained firm frontrunners to win a dream Premier’s Plate in season one despite sharing the spoils in the third Sydney Derby.
The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers remained firm frontrunners to win a dream Premier-s Plate in season one despite sharing the spoils in the third Sydney Derby.
The Wanderers- stretched their unbeaten run to eleven games in a fiery 1-1 draw with Sydney FC but failed to stretch the record-breaking winning run past ten straight.
The Wanderers, now six points clear on top with one game to go, look likely to secure the premier-s plate next week away to Newcastle unless the Central Coast fails to beat Adelaide United away on Sunday.
It was a traditional derby game with blood and guts and drama but in the end the badly depleted Wanderers were unlucky not to take the ascendancy as they had far more serious chances.
It was a party atmosphere at Wanderland with 19,585 supporters creating a stunning scene as the two Sydney teams kicked off to compete for the title of Sydney-s best football team after the previous two derbies were split one win each.
Previously, Sydney FC defeated Western Sydney 1-0 at Parramatta Stadium and Western Sydney defeated Sydney 2-0 at Allianz Stadium.
Coach, Tony Popovic said he was pleased with the result.
“We-ve actually gone a step further tonight, we-re six clear now, we continue our unbeaten run to 11 games and we go onto next week,” Popovic said.
The match proved hard for the Wanderers with numerous key players out of action due to injury and suspension, including Captain Michael Beauchamp (quad soreness), Youssouf Hersi (suspended) and Jerome Polenz and Aaron Mooy, both injured.
“The players that came in were fantastic,” he said.
“They more than held their own, they played very well.”
Kwabena Appiah-Kubi who started for Hersi was outstanding and Rocky Visconte made an impressive debut for the club off the bench.
The Sydney Sky Blues were the first to score, with a goal early on in the first half to their star player, Alessandro Del Piero capitalising on a horror slip in defence.
Centre back Nikolai Topor-Stanley passed across goal without looking only to find Del Piero who was gifted a goal against the run of play.
“It was the least we deserved,” Popovic said.
“We had numerous opportunities in the first half and we didn-t capitalise but the players stuck at it, played some good football and in the end, the least we deserved was a point.
“We will learn from this experience, we will get stronger and better and next time we-re confronted with this situation…maybe we can take it that step further.
“You make a mistake, it-s what happens after that that-s important and all the players responded very well.”
The third instalment of the Sydney derby started with both teams playing end to end and fighting hard to gain the first solid possession to get the game truly going.
The pace quickened and play settled in the eighth minute when Bridge flicked a great ball up to Appiah-Kubi who took a run up the right but was stopped by Sydney-s defence.
Sydney fought back with Del Piero, who delivered a cracker of a shot in the 20th minute however Western Sydney-s Ante Covic managed to snatch it from the air before it dropped.
Possession was flicking back and forth after that, before Del Piero picked up a loose pass from Nikolai Topor-Stanley and shot it across Covic into the corner in the 34th minute, giving Sydney the lead.
The Wanderers nearly made it even in the 38th in an exciting moment as Shinji Ono took a shot that was deflected out to striker Mark Bridge.
The ball rolled slowly across the goal but there was no one there to tap it in.
The pivotal moment in the game for Western Sydney was in the 56th minute when a red card was awarded to Sydney FC-s captain, Brett Emerton for an offensive clash with Shannon Cole, bringing their squad down to 10 men.
The Sky Blues- Joel Griffiths was hit with a typical yellow for contending.
Western Sydney took a while to make the most of it but the equaliser was a brilliant free by Cole after Dino Kresinger was taken down right in front of the goal, just outside the box.
The crowd erupted as Cole-s shot flew and dipped into the corner and past the Sky Blues- goalkeeper, Ivan Necevski.
Del Piero nearly gave the Sky Blues the lead again minutes later as he took yet another crack at goal in the 73rd after being awarded a free kick.
The final ten minutes saw some exciting football as the Wanderers pressed in waves.
In the last minute of extra time, a straight red card was delivered to Iacopo La Rocca after he accidentally swung his arm out after being tackled around the waist by Sydney-s Terry Antonis.
The game finished shortly after with a final score of 1-1, with neither team able to claim the bragging right of being the best Sydney team.