Western Sydney Wanderers's midweek fixture against Melbourne Victory was their first against a side outside of New South Wales and late goals to Graham Dorrans and Kwame Yeboah sealed all three points.
Melbourne Victory were coming off a 5-2 hiding by Brisbane Roar while the home side had to come back from a goal down twice to secure a draw with Macarthur. Bruce Kamau was rewarded for his impressive substitute appearance and he replaced Bernie Ibini in the Wanderers attack. Daniel Wilmering made his long awaited return from injury as a late addition to the bench and took to the field in the 55th minute.
An early warning from the Victory was provided by Jacob Butterfield, the English midfielder shooting from long range and bringing out a fine save at the near post by Daniel Margush. 9 minutes in and the Wanderers first major attack came down the left side through Daniel Georgievski, after some neat interplay he launched a slow curler that had the crowd expectant only for it to crash against the post and out for a goal kick.
Victory suffered a major blow in the 25th minute, in what should have been an easy trap by Graham Dorrans was waylaid and instead of a second touch he raised his feet and kicked Marco Rojas in the face with the ball a mile away. It was a wild, dangerous challenge that in most leagues would have been a simple red card and the Wanderers down to 10 but in the A-League the refs do things differently and the Captain got away with a yellow. Rojas was subbed off with blood pouring down his face and ended up in hospital with a deep laceration.
Mark Natta had a free header inside the penalty area that flew agonisingly wide late in the half. Birkan Kirdar forced another high class save out of Margush 5 minutes from the break. Keanu Baccus broke free after a defensive turnover and his near post shot was well saved by Victory keeper Max Crocombe. A late flourish from Victory amounted to nothing and the main talking points of the half were the Rojas facial reconstruction and a late stomp at a set piece from Robbie Kruse on Ziggy Gordon.
With the 0-0 deadlock on the scoreboard Carl Robinson was not happy, making a double switch at half time. He bought on Bernie Ibini for Bruce Kamau and replaced James Troisi with James O'Doherty.
Melbourne Victory had the first great chance of the second half. Jake Brimmer dropped a brilliant cross from a wide free kick to the edge of the 6 yard box and at the near post Storm Roux managed a good flick on. With the Wanderers defence standing motionless, if any Victory player had made a run to the back post they would have had a 1 yard tap-in to open the scoring.
Victory's substitute striker Rudy Gestede turned an innocuous corner into a penalty for the Wanderers. With the ball high in the air he completely forgot that the opposition might also be coming for the ball and managed an even higher, nastier foot to the face on Bernie Ibini than the one earlier in the game on Rojas. Graham Dorrans took the responsibility for the penalty shot and he made no mistake, shooting into the side netting to make it 1-0. Gestede was lucky to escape a straight red for his excessive force, and was saved from a second yellow by one of the newer updates to the laws that downgrade cards from penalty box failed challenges for the ball.
Kwame Yeboah should have sealed the game in the 85th minute, after doing well to dispossess Ryan Shotton then cutting inside the cover defence, with only the keeper to beat he pulled his shot at the near post too far and fired into the wrong side of the goal netting. A minute later he made things right, a simple break away from half-way by Bernie Ibini, he measured up the chance with aplomb to put Yeboah in on goal with no pressure, and he smashed it through the keepers hands to make it 2-0 and to seal the three points for the Wanderers.
While not the prettiest of wins, the victory over the Victory propelled the Wanderers back into the top four, 3 points behind this seasons surprise packet Central Coast Mariners. The Wanderers next opponent is Melbourne City, played at Parramatta on Saturday February 13th with kick-off at 7:10PM.