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  • The Western Sydney Wanderers will kick off the 2021/22 A-League season with an away trip to Newcastle to face Broadmeadow Magic in the FFA Cup Round of 32.

    Football Federation Australia conducted the draw this evening, with a new format involving 4 geographic zones at least for the Round of 32, and the inclusion of an open draw creating the potential of multiple A-League vs A-League games and a bottom 4 A-League play-off qualifier. The usual requirement remained where A-League games would play away when drawn against NPL opposition. There is an Asian Champions League place up for grabs for the first time ever.

    The Wanderers were drawn in the second fixture against Broadmeadow Magic. The side from Newcastle were founded by the Macedonian community in 1966, play in the NPL Northern New South Wales where they have won the league competition 7 times. Their home ground is known as both the Wanderers Oval and Magic Park and would be very familiar to Western Sydney Wanderers fans. In addition to playing multiple A-League pre-season fixtures at the ground, it was also the location for the Wanderers 5-0 demolition of the Edgeworth Eagles in the 2017/18 edition of the competition, and is a regular pre-match location for away trips to Newcastle. Broadmeadow made their way into the draw by defeating Kotara 4-0, Edgeworth 4-3 after extra time, an 8-0 flogging of Port Macquarie and lastly a 2-1 win against the Weston Workers.

    Out of the possible fixtures the Wanderers could have drawn, playing one of the teams outside of the New South Wales NPL 1 league is a good one for a side looking once again to rebuild heading into the A-League season. It could be a potential banana skin however as the Magic are currently in good form and leading the NNPL competition with 9 wins & 2 draws from their 12 matches played.

    There is no date set for now but information should come to hand after the A-League play-off qualifiers finish in the middle of August.

    Adelaide United locked down the A-League finals positions, ending Wellington Phoenix's hopes with a 2-2 draw, the game changing when Tass Mourdoukoutas was sent from the field in the first half with the score 2-1 in the favour of the Wanderers.

    While the finals charge is over, the Western Sydney Wanderers took on Adelaide United in South Australia, with the Wanderers hoping to avoid a FFA Cup play-off with a win and Adelaide needing at least a draw to secure their place in the A-League finals. Keanu Baccus made what might be his last appearance for the club with Hungarian giants Ferencvaros said to have finalised a long-awaited European transfer for the midfield, with the club netting a large transfer fee in the process.

    Adelaide began in dominant fashion, with Loius D'Arrigo getting a shot off that forced Daniel Margush into a diving save. The home side were getting behind the Wanderers defence at will and Ryan Strain forced an own goal out of Ziggy Gordon to open the scoring, his simple cross back into the middle was no real threat until Gordon failed to properly clear it, the ball rebounding off his knee to make it 1-0 in the 10th minute.

    The Wanderers hit back in the 21st minute. After a 15 pass build up, Tom Aquilina found open space on Adelaide's right flank, driving into the defensive area then pulling the ball back across the middle of the penalty area. It found Kamau and his first time shot was wildly inaccurate, unfortunately for Adelaide it found the feet of Ryan Strain and deflected toward the back post, rolling home to make it 1-1.

    Adelaide were shocked, having lost all their momentum they also lost the lead in the 29th minute. An inability to clear the ball at a corner eventually saw Ben Halloran about to start a counter, and instead he was dispossessed by Gordon on the sideline, playing it off Halloran to win a throw. He took it quickly, starting another attack that Adelaide once again failed to clear, Baccus put it into an area, it came off a head in the area, came to Graham Dorrans, bought it from his right foot onto his left, swung the left foot at the volley and it rifled into the bottom corner with the keeper no chance.

    The period of Wanderers dominance was ended in the 34th minute, Craig Goodwin crossed over the penalty area and gave Halloran an header from an acute angle, with Gordon coming across to make it tough, Halloran aimed it down for the corner only to nod it wide. It was a tough chance and perhaps going back into the 6 yard box was the better option.

    Even though Adelaide were behind on the scoreboard their hopes in the game received a massive boost in the 35th minute as Tass Mourdoukoutas was given his marching orders for a poor tackle on D'Arrigo. The pair came together for a poorly placed pass from Stain, Mourdoukoutas came flying in with a raised boot, collecting D'Arrigo to send him flying. Referee Alex King showing no hesitation in pulling out a straight red and after a short VAR delay that was never going to save him, Mourdoukoutas stomped off down the Hindmarsh Stadium tunnel. Adelaide couldn't convert their advantage before the half-time whistle sounded, requiring them to make up their deficit in the final 45.

    Adelaide came out for the second half by bringing on Tomi Juric, but they couldn't find a clear chance in the first 5. The Wanderers on the other hand counter-attacked, Kamau finding a rushing Aqulina and he smashed a shot into the corner of the crossbar. Adelaide went down the other end and Goodwin fired a swerving, fast shot that nearly had Margush beat until he shifted his weight and made a remarkable save, at some cost, as he suffered what appeared to be a back injury, while Aquila had been laid out in the build up by Mauk elbowing him in the head. Both players stayed down for several minutes.

    Not long after the injury stoppage Adelaide bought the game back level. Halloran lofted an apparently aimless ball into the middle of the penalty box and the Wanderers defence turned to statues. Gordon could have easily cleared the ball and instead he apparently expected Margush to rush out to claim it when the keeper was staying on his line, it slipped between the pair and Aquilina was caught ball watching, Goodwin lashed at the ball with his left food and beat Margush at the near post. It was a catalogue of error's typical to the Wanderers poor defending this season and being down to 10 men had nothing to do with it.

    Going into the last 20 with rain pouring down both teams threw caution to the wind, going back and forth with attackers and having to scramble back to defend. Josh Cavallo tried a long range effort that stung the palms of Margush, and D'Arrigo had an on-target shot blocked by the defence.

    The Wanderers should have taken a shock lead in the 82nd minute after a horror error from James Delianov in the Adelaide goal. He attempted to play out from the back from a wide position but his central pass was intercepted by newly arrived Jordon Mutch. With an apparent open goal beckoning Mutch delayed to take a second touch and his aim was errant, allowing Delianov to rescue the situation to knock it out for a corner.

    Halloran went close to putting Adelaide in front in the 85th minute, a left side counter attack ended with a cross over the defence, Halloran's side footed volley flashing wide into the side netting, confusing some of the crowd who thought he'd put it away.

    Adelaide closed out the match by holding the ball in the Wanderers defensive half for the 5 minutes of stoppage time, and while they couldn't find a last minute winner they did enough to secure their A-League Finals position. The first half was dramatic, and the second half followed the template for a 11v10 match. As usual, the Wanderers players were all smiles after the final whistle, having closed out the A-League season and the club's fourth season in a row without finals football. It remains to be seen if the owners will pull the trigger on Robinson's sacking after his dismal attempt at leading the club but the signs seem to be pointing to him getting another crack in the 2021/22 season. Without a major turn around in his foreign player recruitment and his tactical decisions it might prove to be a short reprieve.

    If Perth Glory manage to defeat Newcastle on Saturday evening, then the Wanderers will be faced with an FFA Cup qualifying play-off game against Newcastle in the next two weeks. If Perth draw or lose, then the Wanderers will avoid the play-off, and return to the A-League for the 2021/22 season later in the year.

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