Hayden Foxe's time as the Western Sydney Wanderers manager has ended with a fourth draw in a row, as his side threw away a win against the butchers of Melbourne Victory tonight.
The tone of the game was set 3 minutes into the first half, as Mitch Austin scythed down Brendan Hamill on the right flank. Leeroy George the Victory marquee took advantage of poor defence from Alvaro Cejudo to fire in at Janjetovic, who blocked the shot & recovered it at the second attempt. Austin followed up his early yellow with an early red. In the 24th minute Austin decided to intercept a Brendan Hamill free kick at point blank range and the referee had no choice but to issue a second yellow card.
The Wanderers took advantage of the one man advantage with the Spanish three amigos combining to open the scoring. Alvaro Cejudo played in Raul Llorente and the fullback chipped a lovely cross to the middle of the 6 yard box that the marquee Oriol Riera couldn't miss.
Mark Milligan was lucky to avoid following Austin down the tunnel, as he received a yellow card after 37 minutes, then smashed Jumpei Kusukami with a studs up lunge that in most leagues he would have done well to have avoided a straight red for. Peter Green was perhaps wary of the criticism that would follow him for taking Victory down to 9 men, but it opens up a question about how a team who were clearly playing dirty were getting away with heavy challenges & lunges against a team trying to play attacking open football.
The VAR was once again a source of controversy minutes before half-time. Jumpei won a clear penalty off Rhys Williams & he was shown a yellow card. Despite this, the VAR jumped in to the ear of Green and decided to spend several minutes checking for no apparent reason, icing Riera who was left standing & waiting to take the shot at goal. After the farcial review, Green made the VAR symbol only to walk over to Williams, who he had already booked just to shown him the yellow card again. Having waited & waited, Riera finally shot & hit it straight into the hands of Lawrence Thomas, leaving the game poised at 1-0 at half-time.
Melbourne Victory regained a sense of momentum after the break, and received a lucky break from the referees to assist in their equaliser. After an incorrectly awarded thrown in lead to a free kick, Leeroy George floated a cross into the area for Thomas Deng to latch onto, and the defender put the ball off the post and in.
Foxe looked dumbfounded on the bench as he called on his substitutes, but the introductions of Santalab & Sotirio couldn't help the vistors find a winner. Sotirio in particular was his typical self where he killed every attack by giving it back to the opposition under no pressure. For yet another game, the Wanderers glacial passing saw their opponents park the bus & hit on the counter, and even as the clock ticked into the 94th minute of stoppage time they were still content to knock the ball between the central defenders. On an individual level fullbacks Llorente & Hamill were the pick of the Wanderers but as a collective this was a disastrous performance against a team lacking their best players and down to 10 men.
Josep Gombau has a lot of work on to turn this tired looking draw specialist team into one that will close out games and threaten the likes of Sydney FC & Melbourne City, whom the Wanderers next match is against at AAMI Park this weekend.