The Wanderers aimed to keep their finals hopes alive against Perth Glory on Tuesday night but failed badly, losing 3-1 after being over-run late in the 2nd half, as a Mitch Duke goal was rubbed out with Perth scoring 3 through Ivan Franjic, Neil Kilkenny and James Meredith.
With one enforced change after a horror collision against Wellington, Nicolai Muller made way for Kwame Yeboah, the rest of the lineup unchanged. The opening stages were timid & probing, the Wanderers having the only shots, one long shot from Matt Jurman and a later glancing header from Mitch Duke that sailed over the crossbar. Bruno Fornaroli was unlucky not to open the scoring in the 25th minute. Kristian Popovic launched a cross from the right flank that Fornaroli dove to hit a side volley, he made enough contact to knock it back the way it came and it rebounded off the crossbar and out.
Midway through the half the game had settled into a routine of attack, counter-attack and counter-counter-attack, Popovic continued to provide decent service to Fornaroli while the Wanderers attack came mostly through Keanu Baccus and Mitch Duke, but was missing the final pass to unlock the Perth defence. Jordan O'Doherty drew a yellow card for Juande, setting up a good set piece opportunity 25 yards out from goal, O'Doherty then placed the free kick on the head of Duke and the ball flew off target for a goal kick. Perth had their own set piece opportunity 5 minutes from the break, a failed clearance fell to Tomi Mrcela and he blazed over the bar from the penalty spot. Patrick Ziegler picked up a yellow card for persistent fouling on Bruno Fornaroli.
Right on the half-time whistle Fornaroli butchered a chance he should have scored. In a bonus 10 seconds of stoppage time Fornaroli was clear unmarked in the penalty area, he recieved a cutback and instead of slamming the ball home as you might expect from the marquee striker, he fluffed his lines and dribbled the ball into the arms of Prendergast. At half-time Perth replaced Popovic with Jake Brimmer and the Wanderers called in O'Doherty with Pirmin Schwegler taking his place in midfield.
The Wanderers were lucky to escape without conceding a penalty when Patrick Ziegler was sliding into a challenge and the ball hit his arm, it lead to a counter-attack for Kwame Yeboah that ended when Schwegler smashed the ball into the stands. Dylan McGowan gave away a foul & copped a yellow card for a rough challenge on a rampant Fornaroli. Grant found the ball on his feet and smashed towards goal but it was blocked by Keanu Baccus. Western Sydney's press stole the ball from Perth outside their penalty area, only for Georgievski to shoot on goal instead of a cut-back for the open Simon Cox.
Perth made their pressure felt on the scoreboard in lucky fashion. Patrick Ziegler failed to clear the ball, it dropped to Brimmer and he launched a strike at goal, only to have it deflect into the path of Ivan Franjic, despite a heavy collision with Prendergast he managed to slide the ball under the keeper for 1-0. Georgievski was disappointing as his poor decision to call the keeper into the action lead to the goal being scored.
The Wanderers hit back immediately, Ziegler starting an attack down the right, he found Baccus and he laid it on for Georgievski and the fullback found Duke playing with his back to goal. He rolled his defender and slid into a shot that beat both the cover defence and Liam Reddy in the Perth goal.
Dylan McGowan forgot he wasn't a goalkeeper with 15 minutes to go, falling to the turf inside the penalty area and blocking a cutback with both hands. Despite acting like he had been hit in the head the referee wasn't fooled and pointed to the spot, Neil Kilkenny fired past Prendergast despite him picking the right way.
A series of substitutions did nothing to help the Wanderers cause. Perth pulled even further ahead on the 85th minute. James Meredith securing the win with a perfect long range blast that whistled into the side netting. Fornaroli found a flying Brimmer and he beat three Wanderers defenders, he fired back to the edge of the area, Fornaroli continued his poor night in the striking sense by missing it completely. All that did was let the ball roll into the path of Meredith and his left foot strike made it 3-1.
Nothing the Wanderers did in the remaining time made much of an impression on the Perth defence and the visitors cruised to a 3-1 win that locked them into 5th place, while for Western Sydney it leaves them requiring two wins from their remaining games to have any hope of making the finals, not that this side looks like winning two in a row at this stage in any case.
The Wanderers play Western United at Kogarah Oval on Friday 7th August, kick-off at 7:30PM, do note that this match may be closed to the public.