The Western Sydney Wanderers took on Perth Glory on a windy and rainswepth Friday afternoon at Parramatta. Carl Robinson elected to place Jordan Mutch to the bench in favour of Graham Dorrans. The Wanderers playing the first game of the weekend were looking to get 3 points clear in 2nd place and put themselves in striking position of the Central Coast Mariners, a Perth win could put them into the top 6, a draw threatened either side's ladder position. The Wanderers took all three points with a dominant performance, taking advantage of terrible defending to ring up a 3-0 victory.
As the Wanderers needed to tighten up in the early stages and Perth were coming into the game with a 3 game streak without a win, the sides spent the opening stages feeling each other out, probing without getting in behind. Nick D'Agostino had a shot on target 10 minutes in that flashed just wide of the post. A minute later the Wanderers should have opened the scoring. Mitch Duke, Mark Natta and Tate Russell combined to let the striker have a neat shot on target, a rebound fell to Bruce Kamau who failed to beat Reddy from point blank range, the ball found James Troisi, with an effectively empty net he scooped the shot over the bar.
Bernie Ibini thought he'd given the Wanderers the lead 21 minutes in, scoring his second goal of the season and perhaps justifying Graham Arnold's call for him to return to the Australian national team lineup. He was played through on goal by a superb curling ball from Daniel Wilmering, ran in on goal and finished smartly at the far post. After a brief VAR interlude the officials hand went up to signal offside, with the replays showing the barest of margins, perhaps all of 30 centimetres of difference. None the less, it was disallowed. Ibini had another chance moments later, only to smash the ball right into Liam Reddy.
Ibini then had an identical goal chalked off by the VAR and the linesman, again being put through on goal, it seemed quite clearly offside but as the style is, the linesman kept the flag down. Ibini waltzed into the area and managed to beat Reddy with a very slow spinning shot.
Incredibly the Wanderers had a third goal taken off them by the VAR. This time Mitch Duke turned in a low cross from Daniel Wilmering, only for the replay to show Wilmering had strayed offside prior to his cross. Mitch Duke was finally onside with another break on goal in the 35th minute, but his poor first touch took him so far away from goal that it would have taken a world class shot, and even with the poor angle he bought out a wonderful fingertip save from Liam Reddy. Wilmering wanted to make up for his offside error late in the half, he was played into an acre of space by Keanu Baccus, the first touch of the wingback was slightly too heavy and it let Perth close him down to block his shot.
After 45 minutes of frustration the Wanderers did finally take the lead in stoppage time. James Troisi cut out a Baccus ball intended for Tate Russell, he then cut inside onto his left and floated a delightful chip to the far post. Mitch Duke rose like a spawning salmon, destroyed his opponent aerially and powered a header into the back of the net to give Liam Reddy absolutely zero chance of a save.
Barely a minute into the second half, Mitch Duke and the Wanderers had their second goal. Another lofted through-ball from Baccus found Duke, he beat Bodnar all ends up and finished across Liam Reddy.
Perth Glory's suicidal high defensive line was exposed yet again by the Wanderers and Troisi was the recipient of a tap-in to make it 3-0. Ibini was played in on goal for the umpteenth time, he got tangled up with the cover defender before he could shoot but managed to pass the ball over to Troisi who was unmarked and he strode into the mouth of the goal to walk the ball in for the Wanderers 3rd of the evening.
Ziggy Gordon turned in one of the best tackles of the game. Brandon Wilson shot at goal but he mistimed it, and it fell straight to Andy Keogh, and with the rest of the defence out of place, Gordon appeared out of nowhere to block the shot from a few yards out to send it out for a corner. Margush then saved a tap-in, after a night with little to do, Dane Ingham beat Natta and fired a low cross into the 6 yard box. Margush stuck out a hand to clear it away from the onrushing attackers.
Perth had a late chance for a consolation goal after Tate Russell clipped an attacker near the corner flag, but Perth did what they had all night, failed to connect with the final ball and it was cleared away by substitute Jordan Mutch. The 3-0 scoreline flattered Perth, who played a kamikaze defensive line that the Wanderers penetrated at ease. The win put the home side 3 clear of Adelaide with a significant goal difference advantage, the more wins the better the position will be once the games played evens out toward the end of the season.
The Wanderers next game is against Melbourne City in Melbourne on Friday March 26 with kick-off at 7:05pm EDT.