Western Sydney Wanderers had to win to keep their faint hopes of a finals run alive but fell to a 5-3 loss in a chaotic game where Western United pulled into a 3-0 lead before the Wanderers levelled the game only for defensive errors to assist their opponents to a 5-3 lead they didn't relinquish.
On a night of teeming rain and arctic winds at Kogarah Oval, Referee Alireza Faghani had an early penalty call to make, as Max Burgess blasted a cross into Dylan McGowan. Unlike his last game McGowan had his arms at his side behind his back and play continued after the penalty shout was waved away. Western United went inches away from taking the lead in the 4th minute, they sliced through the Wanderers porous defence, Alessandro Diamanti bought ex-Wanderers fullback Josh Risdon into the game and his cut-back found the late run of another ex-Wanderer in Steven Lustica. His first time left foot strike rose too high and smashed off the crossbar.
Western United didn't take long to open the scoring through Risdon. This time they attacked down the left flank, Connor Pain and Max Burgess combined with the Wanderers defence going to sleep, his cross was perfect and on the edge of 6 yard box, the four Wanderers defenders and the goalkeeper impersonated traffic cones and stood around watching as Risdon rose for an unmarked header down and past Prendergast. It was abysmal defence for a team that have had no trouble blocking the cross or putting even the tiniest bit of pressure on one of the smallest players on the pitch.
They doubled their advantage in the 18th minute after on the back of another Risdon raid down the right. After Duke lost a 1 on 1 heading duel on half-way, Berisha played a quick ball to Diamanti and he released Risdon. With the Wanderers defence massively out of position and hoping for an offside that never came because Jurman was playing Risdon onside, a tiny delay before the cross took out Georgievski's chance of a block and Berisha was perfectly placed for his trademark near post run and he sliced a side footed pass into the back of the net for 2-0.
Tate Russell had a crack from long range 5 minutes before half-time, his shot sailed high and wide. Kwame Yeboah got the ball at his feet from a goal-mouth scramble and fired it at goal, Filip Kurto's sharp, one-handed reaction save pushed the ball to safety, the last big attack of the half.
The second half started like the first, with inept attack and the fragile defence conceding a butter soft goal. First up Yeboah had an opportunity to play in Cox for a one on one with Kurto, but could only slowly roll the ball to the keeper. Western United scored their 3rd courtesy of a short corner and terrible goalkeeping. Diamanti played a one-two pass from the from the corner and walked down the byline under no pressure, floating the ball for an attempted cross that turned into a lob on Prendergast who had come out too far and his desperate tip did nothing to prevent it dropping over the line.
It took until the hour mark before the Wanderers even looked like scoring. Penalty area pinball ended with Kwame Yeboah having an unmarked header 6 yards out, but he failed to get any power and he was well wide in any case. Mitch Duke then lashed a shot wide. Bruce Kamau's introduction sparked the attack into life and he put the ball on a plate for Duke. Kamau's right foot cross floated over the head of Calver and Duke didn't miss from point-blank range.
The Wanderers' finals life line was found by sub Tass Mourdoukoutas, he made a neat near-post run for a wide free kick from Schwegler. Mourdoukoutas pulled a Kresinger inspired back heel out of the locker and the ball skidded across the turf to make it 3-2. Incredibly the Wanderers pulled the game back level in the 82nd minute, Western United stayed far too deep and let Georgievski find a path into the box, his pass into Yeboah was shanked into the path of Duke he bought the ball down with his chest then volleyed unerringly into the bottom corner with his left foot.
That was the high point of the game for Western Sydney, as they rapidly gave up a fourth and a fifth Western United goal in the 84th and 86th minutes. Tass Mourdoukoutas turned from hero to zero as he horribly misplayed a simple back pass from Kamau. Burgess then knocked the ball away, taking it on the run into the penalty area he finished superbly to Prendergast's right. United made it 5-3 as they killed off the game, the Wanderers defence failing to clear after a Connor Pain run, letting the ball bobble and bounce until man of the match Diamanti hooked the ball back over his shoulder and chipped Prendergast once more as he wheeled away to celebrate with his team.
How much more can you say about a result like that? The Wanderers defensive frailty showed through with the 5 goals conceded, the failure of the club to pay our foreign players properly during the pandemic put Prendergast in goal where he was badly exposed twice by Diamanti and whatever Mitch Duke does next week it's not going to matter and he's about leave because the leadership clearly don't see a player who has been one of our few bright sparks as worth retaining. The loss ends what little hope the club had of playing the finals and there doesn't appear to be any light at the end of the tunnel as yet another dismal season comes to a close.
From top to bottom the Western Sydney Wanderers are rotten. This begins at the top with our billionaire owner Paul Lederer and inept CEO John Tsatsimas taking charge of half a decade of failure since the billionaire picked up the club at mate's rates from Franky Lowy the former head of Football Federation Australia. There has been little to show from Jean-Paul de Marigny to suggest he has the ability to turn the club into a consistent winner, and with a raft of players coming off contract it seems unlikely that the Wanderers stand a chance of winning trophies barring drastic changes made to the playing & coaching staff.
The final match of the season is against fellow cellar dwellers the Melbourne Victory, in what will be a battle of two big clubs reduced to ruin by poor recruitment and coaching. The game is the second match in a Wednesday August 12th Western Sydney Stadium double header. Perth vs Western United begins at 5:35PM, followed by the Wanderers vs Melbourne Victory at 8:10PM.