A late red card to Keanu Baccus, a missed penalty from Oriol Riera and some lackadaisical defence combined to see the Wanderers lose 2-3 to Adelaide United. Requiring a win to finish 6th and play in the final series, instead the Wanderers finished 7th and saw their season end at fulltime.
The quest for 6th started so well in the 15th minute, Adelaide keeper Paul Izzo got in a right tangle as he spilled a long-range shot into the path of Riera, then scrambled into the path of the striker and cut him down. Riera stepped up and slotted it into the bottom corner past the desperate dive of Izzo.
That lead lasted bare minutes. Clisby & Hamill were caught square & far up the park, standing on half way when a long bomb from the Adelaide backline flew over Clisby's foot and into the path of Baba Diawara. He had Hamill beaten for pace and finished smartly with the outside of his right foot past Vedran Janjetovic.
The topsy-turvey game continued with Adelaide taking a 2-1 lead in the 38th minute. Nathan Konstandopoulos weaved into the penalty area and had a shot blocked by the defence, only to roll into the path of midfielder Daniel Adlung, he ran onto the ball with a sweet left foot strike that curled into the top corner.
Just like the Wanderers lead earlier, Adelaide's lead was erased in quick time. Raul Llorente strode onto a ball down the left flank and delivered a first time cross into the center, it passed over Riera but Marcelo Carrusca rose into the air and nodded the ball home.
Only 3 minutes later the Wanderers were going to the penalty spot again. The referee missed a blatant penalty on Chris Ikonomidis, but the VAR intervened after a short delay. Once again Riera stepped up to face Izzo from 12 yards, Riera went the other way and Izzo had guessed correctly, turning the ball around the post for a corner.
On the hour mark the Wanderers hopes of playing in the finals drastically went down. Keanu Baccus & Johann Absalonsen tangled together while fighting for the ball, as they both fell to the turf and got up, Absalonsen stood up then went down like he was shot. After a break in play the VAR intervened, with Baccus called out and red carded for a kick out action.
Josep Gombau threw players forward looking for an unlikely winner, turning to a 3 man defensive line with Santalab & Riera up front, but the low hopes were extinguished 10 minutes from full time as Adelaide went on the counter. Sweeping down the right flank through Nikola Mileusnic, his cross evaded both Llorente and Hamill, and Josh Risdon at the back post was completely beaten for pace by Ryan Kitto and he slammed the ball past the despairing dive for Janjetovic.
Finishing 7th is an abysmal result for the Wanderers. It is absolutely not good enough. There is no singular person who is at fault for the result tonight nor the season as a whole. It is a collective failure, a cascade of heartless players, ill disciplined players both on and off the field, inept players who have been paid for too much for what they delivered this season and a coaching structure that imploded early in the season, Gombau's desire to setup his possession first philosophy with defense as an afterthought and poor recruitment from Tony Popovic before his exit at the start of the season.
The men who own this club have some searing questions to answer to fix the major problems that plague the Wanderers this year both on field and off the field. The RBB situation is a farce and must be fixed before the start of the new season. The club staff had their big "We're in charge" banning the RBB moment, now it is time to swallow your pride and start talking with the people to resolve the situation. Spotless Stadium and it's ridiculous security apparatus that poisons the goodwill atmosphere by threats of arrests & bans against paying customers and as seen recently, club staff should not be tolerated by John Tsatsimas and the rest of the executive office at the Wanderers.
Next season is the last before our new stadium. It would be a horrible shame if we go into our new stadium without the vibrant supporter culture that involved all membership groups at the club and another year of failure on the pitch to go along with it.