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  • The Western Sydney Wanderers hosted the top of the table Central Coast Mariners with the home side needing a win to stay in touch with the top 4. A late injury to Jordon Mutch saw the midfield shuffled and the attacking weapons of Nicolai Muller and James Troisi both starting. The end result was a 2-2 draw with the lead swapping multiple times.

    The Wanderers had a great chance from the ex-Mariner Ziggy Gordon, he got on the end of a great whipped in-swinging corner at the 6 yard box, rose above the defender and nodded the ball just over the crossbar. Nicolai Muller then had a shot from long range after the Mariners failed to clear their lines, the shot low and aimed at the far post but not strong enough to trouble Mark Birighitti.

    Despite the good start the Wanderers defensive structure collapsed and the Mariners took full advantage. The Mariners easily played out against a high press as Daniel Wilmering stayed in his own half rather than following the press. With a paddock in the centre of the pitch Marco Urena strode toward the Wanderers penalty area untroubled, even with three central defenders they were caught square, Urena played in Matt Simon and Wanderers keeper Daniel Margush tried to close down the striker and was chipped into an open net. It was a top to bottom defensive failure and one that just keeps happening week in week out.

    Margush ran out of the area and made a mess of his attempted header clearance. Thankfully for the keeper the ball didn't drop for a shot and instead Urena tried a 25 yard header which was on target but cleared off the line by Daniel Wilmering. A goal mouth scramble had the Wanderers incapable of clearing, having to scramble with every drop of the ball. It finally fell to the Mariners and it took Margush rapidly closing down the strike to keep the score to 1-0. Moments before halt-time the Wanderers had a golden chance when Birighitti's punch found Troisi but his weak volley landed in the keepers hands like a gifted Easter egg on last Sunday.

    5 minutes after the break the Wanderers had a brilliant chance to equalise. Bernie Ibini lightstepped through the Mariners defence, beating two defenders then playing it across the penalty area for Mitch Duke. As it appeared that Duke would at the very least get a shot on target, Gianni Stensness came out of nowhere, flung his body at the feet of Duke and blocked the chance. In the 57th minute the Wanderers manufactured an opportunity through Wilmering, who fed the ball to Ibini and his layoff was met by Duke with a tame effort that Birighitti had covered easily.

    In the 65th the Wanderers conceded a corner and nearly another goal. Daniel Bouman leapt and forced a good save out of Margush. They nearly scored seconds later when Jack Clisby stumbled into the penalty area, the Wanderers couldn't get the ball off him and after some pinball wizardry Clisby found a shot that beat Margush but not Aquilina who cleared it off the line.

    Simon Cox and Bruce Kamau were introduced to the game and made a big impact. Cox did what no-one else had done all game and turned toward the opposition goal not away from it, he passed to Aquilina on the flank and his low cross was attacked and scored by Kamau.

    The Mariners should have retaken the lead, a simple in-swinging corner found Stensness 6 yards out from goal with no-one marking him, and with Margush rooted to the goal-line Stensness somehow turned the ball out for a goal kick.

    The Wanderers punished them seconds later to take the lead. Kamau ran at the defence, fired a speculative shot at goal that took a wicked deflection and nestled into the bottom corner to make it 2-1 to the home side.

    Keanu Baccus gave away a penalty in the 82nd minute via the VAR. A high ball that fell on the edge of the penalty area, Baccus tried to clear but was beaten to the dropping ball by Alou Kuol. After a long examination of the replay Oli Bozanic stepped to the penalty spot and equalised, making it 2-2 with a length stoppage time period to come.

    In the 93rd the Wanderers nearly stole the winner. Troisi found his way into the Mariners area, picking out Aquilina on the other side. The high ball was met by Aquilina's head, it looped over Birighitti and impacted the crossbar and came away from the goal. It was oh so close to a not quite deserved winner. The Wanderers should have had a very late penalty when Bruce Kamau was shoved in the back as he was about to shoot, instead the referee and VAR declined to give the clear foul and the game ended not long after with both sides taking a point. Wanderers coach Kenny Miller was red carded on the sideline after the final whistle to add just another touch of drama.

    The Wanderers face Adelaide United with a quick turn around. The side travels to Adelaide for a 7:10PM kick-off on Saturday the 10th of April.



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