The Wanderers inability to score reared it's ugly head again as they were kept scoreless despite an early red card to Victory defender Sam Gallagher.
Tony Popovic left Dino Kresinger in the starting line-up, Shannon Cole was given a start as Popovic shuffled his squad to accommodate the loss of Hersi. The Wanderers started well through D'Apuzzo. Shinji Ono attempted an audacious lob from half-way after spotting Victory keeper Nathan Coe off his line.
The 15th minute set the scene for the match to come. Shinji Ono climbed above the Victory midfield to head a flick-on over the defensive line of Melbourne. Dino Kresinger took advantage of a stumble by Sam Gallagher to take control of the ball. Gallagher dragged down the Wanderers target man and Ben Williams showed the starting debutante a straight red card for denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity. The foul occurred just outside the penalty box and the Wanderers were unable to take advantage of the situation from the set piece.
Mark Bridge had the best of the Wanderers early chances when Aaron Mooy dinked a cross to the back post. Bridge ran onto the ball but from the tight but point blank range Nathan Coe was able to tip the ball over the bar. With the Wanderers pressing and creating chances Ange Postecoglu sacrificed starlet Andrew Nabbout to bring on Jonathan Bru to shore up the Victory defense.
On the stroke of half time disaster struck for Western Sydney. Melbourne spread the ball wide to Guilherme Finkler, who took on Shinji Ono, got around him and drove a cross low into the box. Wanderers captain Michael Beauchamp stuck out a boot, deflecting the ball past the stranded Ante Covic and into his own net. The first ever Wanderers own goal and meant the Wanderers went into the break a goal down despite being a man up.
Iacopo La Rocca was substituted for Jason Trifiro, Popovic replacing his holding defensive midfield with Trifiro who has a better range of passing and is better going forward. Cole had the first chance of the 2nd half when he attempted a curling side footed shot from outside the area. He placed the shot well going for the top corner but the ball didn't drop enough and hit the top of the net after going over the bar.
Mere minutes later Western Sydney committed heavy numbers up forward again and were almost punished with a third. This time it was Topor-Stanley who made the error and only a poor pass from Thompson to Rojas dulled the attack. At this point the Wanderers attack devolved into the same long shots and aimless crosses from deep areas. Despite moving to a 4-4-2 formation chances were few and far between, a heavy volley by Trifiro flashed wide in the 73rd minute. Mooy, D'Apuzzo, Polenz and Bridge all had similar efforts with no result.
The final action of the game served as a microcosm for Western Sydney's performance on the night. Dino Kresinger escaped from the tight marking of the Victory defence to get on the end of a deep cross. He rose above and won the ball cleanly, only to miss the target completely.
Analysis. Yet again Dino Kresinger hurt the team rather than helping it. This has gone on long enough. Dino needs to be booted out of the squad and sent to the youth team until he figures out how to score. You could say he won the red card, but it was lucky because he not only clipped the Victory player to create the chance, but a fast player would have just sprinted past and gone one on one with the keeper. Dino had only 3 shots, and got none of them on target. The rest of the team were just as poor with their shooting. Non-stop long shots, blasting from distance but failing to work the keeper, 24 shots for only 6 on target is a pitiful amount. We can't keep carrying a target man who can't head the ball on target even on free headers, can't hold the ball up properly, is too slow to make effective runs behind the last line of defence and can't shoot. His end product is not up to A-League level and it is punishing the team. Our midfield is one of the best in the leagues, and we need a striker who can take advantage of that.
My suggestion is get Kubi on. Get him up front and centre. This would stop the pointless long balls and aimless diagonal crosses, and would mean we could start playing to get in behind the other teams. Kubi scored in the recent Youth League fixture against the AIS and perhaps it is time to unleash speed instead of height. Secondly, Popovic and the coaching stuff must delve into the transfer market to find another striker. Thanks to Joint A-League Strategic Committee (JALSC) the club has room to bring in a foreign player.
Defensively the red card to Victory pulled the Wanderers out of their defensive shape. This hurt them for the second goal, a lightning counter started when Beauchamp lost possession deep inside the Victory half. They almost conceded again due to the exact same error by Topor-Stanley. There was no way either central defender would have been pulled that deep with 11 men on the pitch for Victory and I doubt it was part of Popovic's plan. The first goal came from a corner not cleared effectively and caused Shinji Ono to have to try and defend inside the Wanderers penalty box. There were only 2 Victory players up for that attack after the corner was cleared, but none of the 8 Wanderers defenders were in position to defend the resulting cross. Topor-Stanley for example was standing on the penalty box marking no-one.
The team need to improve markedly with their end product and with their defensive concentration. This was not an acceptable loss and we were completely outplayed by a team with less men on the field. There are no excuses and the players will demand better of them self for their next match.
The Wanderers next match is against Wellington at Westpac Stadium on Sunday the 2nd of December at 2:30pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time.