The Premiership Plate just became that much harder for the NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers as two goals from Melbourne Victory’s Oliver Bozanic has condemned the Red & Black to a 2-0 defeat at AAMI Park.While the performance levels were high for the majority of the match with Wanderers controlling play, it was a disappointingly lacklustre response to going two goals down that leaves the Red & Black with work to do.
Whether that second goal should have ever happened will be debated for many days as Daniel Georgievski, who won the ball for the goal, should have been sent off in the first half for a horrid stud-up tackle that connected with force above Mitch Nichols’ knee.
The result means the Wanderers remain outright first in at the summit of the Hyundai A-League table but will no longer have the fate of the Premier’s Plate in their own hands with two matches to play and Melbourne City, Brisbane Roar and Adelaide all yet to play this round.
Going into the match with a one point lead at the top of the Hyundai A-League ladder and with only one change to the previous week’s line-up with Dario Vidosic in for Romeo Castelen, confidence was high on the pitch and in the stands.
The visitors got off to a nervy start and were under the pump immediately following a couple of Victory penalty claims before Bozanic put Kevin Muscat’s side in front.
After the Wanderers failed to produce a telling clearance the ball eventually fell to Bozanic who let fly from outside the box, his effort squirming underneath Liam Reddy for the former Socceroo’s second goal of the season.
The Wanderers would go on to dominate the first half in large periods with Mark Bridge sending two headers wide and man-of-the-match Lawrence Thomas containing a long-range effort from Dimas.
Somehow the Red & Black were denied an equaliser after an almighty goalmouth scramble that saw Scott Jamieson’s original cross-cum-shot parried before Mitch Nichols and Dario Vidosic had efforts blocked.
Victory could count themselves incredibly fortunate not to be reduced to ten before half-time after Daniel Georgievski’s horrific lunge on Nichols was only deemed worthy of a yellow by referee Strebre Delovski.
And the second-half began with more controversy when Besart Berisha’s penalty claim was waved away but replays showed Liam Reddy had timed his challenge on the Victory forward perfectly.
The next 22 minutes were a barrage of Wanderers attacks and pressure that were thwarted only by Thomas’ efforts.
As it looked more and more likely that the Red & Black were going to equalise, Georgievski rubbed salt into the wound by setting-up Victory’s second.
Winning the ball, the defender then sent the ball forward where the Wanderers failed to clear the ball away from danger. Bozanic then added the host’s second, skipping past a tackle before driving past Reddy into the bottom right corner.
Popovic’s men were unable to rally once more with the two-goal deficit proving too much of a mountain to climb for the Red and Black who end Easter Friday on top of the table, but will nervously await the results of their premiership challengers.
Next up is the final ever regular season match at the original Wanderland before it demolished. Tickets are available here for the clash against Central Coast Mariners on Friday 1 April, kick-off 7:40pm.