Despite a vastly improved performance on a rain soaked evening, the Western Sydney Wanderers fell to a late winner to Ola Toivonen.
Late afternoon rain, thunder and lightning threatened another postponed encounter, but the dark clouds cleared quickly enough to allow play to begin on schedule. Having been widely criticised for their lack of application against Melbourne City, the Wanderers looked much better against the other half of Melbourne in the first half. Markus Babbel handed an A-League debut to fullback Tate Russell and he performed superbly on both sides of the ball.
The Wanderers had most of the chances, in the 2nd minute Bruce Kamau had the ball fall to his feet after a scramble inside the penalty area, he lashed a right footed drive at goal but Victory keeper Laurence Thomas stuck out a hand and blocked the shot. Oriol Riera found an Alexander Baumjohann cross with his head, the out of form striker nodding it wide.
As has been the curse of the Wanderers in the past few years, they failed to turn their domination into a goal, and copped one against the run of play. Mere minutes before half-time, James Troisi slipped the ball into the penalty area past Brendan Hamill, Toivonen bisected the cover defence of Ziegler and Elrich to slide the ball past Janjetovic, who once again showed his predilection for diving early and the wrong way against close range shots.
In the 70th minute, Alexander Baumjohann had a reward for an excellent game when he single-handedly won, and despatched, a penalty. He was manhandled in the box and taken to ground by fullback Storm Roux, and after a number of spot kick misses from Riera, Baumjohann took the ball and rocketed it home even with Thomas diving the right way.
Terry Antonis tried to get Victory level with a blatant dive in the penalty area, it went unpunished by the officials and if there is any justice, he'll receive a ban from the A-League Match Review Panel.
With typical luck of a side fighting at the lower end of the table, the Wanderers copped an unlucky 2nd. James Troisi took advantage of some slow cover defence from Roly Bonevacia to get in behind the defence, he fired across the face of goal, Patrick Ziegler's desperate lunge couldn't clear the ball, and Toivonen was johnny on the spot as it rebounded into his stomach and from there into the back of the net.
Substitue Nick Fitzgerald smashed the post late on, as well as a chance after Thomas missed the ball after running out of his goal, Fitzgerlad shot from a long way out only to have it blocked by a Victory defender on the line.
The 2-1 loss would almost be considered cruel if it weren't for the amount of chances the Wanderers let slip, but they are a team in poor form and that is how football punishes teams who can't put goals away. The positives despite the loss were the introduction of Russell, who appears to be the vanguard for a new batch of Wanderers youth prospects to make their A-League debuts, and the much improved performance of the side against a better team coming off an 8 day break.
Western Sydney face Wellington Phoenix next Tuesday at 7:50 PM at the Sydney Olympic Stadium.