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Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Western United FC
Western Sydney Wanderers FC
Western United FC
An arm wrestle at Bankwest stadium ends with a point a piece, as a late Aaron Calver header earned Western United a point against the run of play to end the game 1-1.
Manager Markus Babbel, and Wanderers fans, will be bitterly disappointed to drop two points here after they controlled the second half and did enough to earn a one-goal lead after Patrick Ziegler’s 79th-minute goal.
It was a tight game throughout – the first half in particular punctuated by few meaningful chances and a lot of middle third possession – but the second half seemed to be set-up for a Wanderers win before Calver spoiled the party.
The Wanderers edged possession (55% to 45%) and more than edged every other statistical category by having 19 shots to four, and four on target to two.
But it just wasn’t enough on a frustrating night where Kwame Yeboah was off his game, Mitch Duke was lively but lacking a final ball, and where Alex Meier wasn’t able to monster opponents in the box in the way he favours.
Indeed it was a bitterly disappointing result for the Wanderers against a United side whose forward transitions relied wholly on either Panagiotis Kone and Alessandro Diamanti and, when Kone was removed with injury, asked entirely too much of Diamanti.
Veteran poacher Besart Berisha was a non-factor, and United’s best chance came in the first minute of the game when Kone’s shot was blasted straight at Daniel Lopar in goal.
After the go-ahead goal to defender Zeiglar it seemed inevitable that the Wanderers would go on and win, but this United side has a never-say-die attitude that was re-inforced when Calver – a centre-back turned wingback – made a run into the box to get onto the floating back post cross of his fellow wingback Connor Pain to make it 1-1.
It was a heartbreaking turn of events for Babbel, who will now face another week of “will they won’t they” questions about the axe.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1
Western United 1
Be prepared for a lot of ‘wild west’ jokes this weekend as Western Sydney Wanderers take on Western United at Bankwest Stadium tonight at 7:30pm (AEDT). Join The Roar for live scores and a blog of the match.
The home western team, and the more westerly of the two, Western Sydney Wanderers, are in freefall down the table having lost their last five. After a fantastic start that had them hovering near top spot, they now sit outside the top six and manager Markus Babbel is teetering on the precipice.
Last week’s 2-0 loss in (the far more western) Perth continued to confound. The Wanderers are losing these games with mostly their best XI, and just cannot find a combination that works, including a meaningful path to goal. Babbel is now chopping and changing his side each week, rolling experienced players out for youth and vice-versa.
These are extremely troubling signs for Wanderers fans and a poor result at home tonight might just be the death knell for Babbel.
On the other hand, Western United have steadied their ship, winning the last two after dropping three in a row. Their 2-0 win away in Brisbane against a hapless Roar will have boosted their confidence to no end, and they now sit in third and the top of the peloton behind Sydney and Melbourne City.
The expansion side is largely following the model set for them by their opponents tonight in building a team with readymade talent, wise old heads, some top-shelf imports and a couple of youngsters for good measure.
Much like the Wanderers were under Tony Popovic, Western United are a canny side difficult to break down (they are also third for goals conceded), and with Besart Berisha up front and the high functioning marquee Alessandro Diamanti just behind him shooting on sight, goals are always on the cards.
The big news from selections is on the Western Melbourne side. Erstwhile Socceroo right back Josh Risdon is out with injury, while veteran Scott McDonald is given a recall after his surprising omission in recent weeks. It’s not overly clear what disrupted his relationship with manager Mark Rudan, but he’s back from the doghouse and could start alongside Berisha to provide more poaching experience in the box.
This is the Wanderers’ chance to arrest their slide in form against an effective if un-flamboyant Western United. This has the sniff of being either a hard-fought victory for the Wanderers, or a depressing 2-0 loss. Fans of Hertha Berlin’s 2010-11 promotion season from Bundesliga 2 – or weird manager fashions – will be praying for the former.
Western Sydney Wanderers 2-1 Western United
Join The Roar for live scores of tonight’s A-League clash between Western United and the Wanderers from 7:30pm (AEDT).
Kick-off: 7:30pm (AEDT)
Venue: Bankwest Stadium
TV: Fox Sports
Online: Kayo Sports, Foxtel Go, MyFootballLive app
Odds: Western Sydney $2.50, Western United $2.80, draw $3.50