The Western Sydney Wanderers performed well in their first ever match against A-League opposition with a 0-0 draw against Melbourne Heart but lost the subsequent penalty shootout 3-5.
I would like to thank Eric Berry, who was live-tweeting the game at his twitter account. Without his coverage this match report would not be possible. To follow Eric please visit his twitter page here.
A good crowd was in attendance on the cold but clear night in far north New South Wales as they watched the two teams compete for the Craig Foster Cup.
Jerrad Tyson, Tarek Elrich, Michael Beauchamp, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Adam D'Apuzzo, Jerome Polenz, Aaron Mooy, Campos, Hersi, Labinot Haliti and Mark Bridge formed the starting lineup for the Wanderers.
Heart took the field with Redmayne, Marrone, Gerhardt, Gray, Behich, Thompson, Garcia, Fred, Dugandzic, Macallister and Williams.
The game opened with fluid back and forth attack as both sides were heavily pushing up the pitch. The Wanderers had the first chance of the match after 10 minutes when a Wanderers attack down the left resulted in Bridge skying his shot over the bar. Heart fired back with a vicious cross from Williams forcing Tyson to turn it past the goal for a throw-in. In the 28th minute Heart had a goal disallowed for offside in the 28th minute.
A flurry of attacks by the Wanderers that resulted in 3 shots in quick success was kept out by desperate scrambling defense. A Heart defender was given a yellow card after a bad tackle just outside the box, and Mooy smashed the resulting free kick against the crossbar. It was the last major chance before the half-time whistle blowing with the score at 0-0.
After half-time the chances came thick and fast. Heart took a free kick but were unable to get it over the wall. Wanderers then attacked on the left but the cross was too high for the attackers. Mooy put a free kick wide right. Mooy became provider for a Heart chance as he lost possession in front of goal. His blushes were spared when the eventual shot went off the post and away from goal.
The game opened up afterwards, with several counter-attacks being made. A save from Tyson kept Heart at bay, and another brilliant save from his opposite number at the other end denied the Wanderers.
Kubi replaced Haliti after another right hand movement saw more wayward shooting wasting the chance. Despite time wearing on the battle in midfield continued without losing it's intensity, as the Wanderers closed down the Heart ball players all over the pitch. With 10 minutes to play the score remained 0-0, penalties looming large. Shannon Cole was subbed on earlier in the half and he provided a good cross that just avoided the head of Kresinger.
As time started to run out Heart laid siege to the Wanderers goal, taking a number of corners which were tuned aside by Tyson or cleared by the defense. The full time whistle sounded and the teams headed to the penalty spot to decide the winner of the cup. Wanderers missed their second shot through La Rocca, while Heart scored all 5 to win the shootout 5-3.
Despite being unable to score in normal play and the penalty loss this is a positive and encouraging result for the fledgling club. Defensively the team was quite sound and were able to carve out a number of chances in attack. Tyson also performed admirably in goal for the second match running and could push Covic for the starting line up. Mooy again was incredibly impressive, and he will be a key player if the team are to push for finals contention.
The Wanderers next scheduled match is Sunday the 9th of September against Parramatta FC. The match will be Parramatta Stadium.