New A-League team Western United have snatched a late draw at Parramatta tonight, with Aaron Calver equalising late after Patrick Ziegler's close range header gave the Wanderers the lead 10 minutes from time.
The Wanderers bought back Daniel Lopar into the starting lineup after his illness last week, while Daniel Wilmering, having suffered an ACL injury at training was replaced at fullback by Tate Russell. At the start of the first half Western United nearly opened the scoring in the 2nd minute. After a well worked attack down the left side, Connor Pain's cutback found Panagiotis Kone but his shot was blocked by the leg of Daniel Lopar.
Western Sydney's best chance of the half came late on in a similar fashion. This time it ended with Kwame Yeboah blasting the ball into low earth orbit, wrecking what should have been a golden chance to put a goal on the board.
Apart from those chances, the Wanderers were dominant, pressing hard up the pitch and forcing Western United into long balls with little to show for it. Unfortunately the same old problems for the Wanderers came to the fore, as they failed to find good last passes to unlock defences, and in particular their crossing was abysmal.
The 2nd half followed the pattern of the first, Western United parking the bus and bringing out their now trademark time wasting tactics to frustrate their opposition. The Wanderers didn't let the delays pull them out of their focus, and they were finally rewarded in the 78th minute. Nicolai Muller launched a corner into the near post, Keanu Baccus rose for a flick-on that found German central defender Patrick Ziegler who couldn't miss from point blank range to make it 1-0.
Despite having to force the temp, Western United took some time to ramp up their attack. In the 86th minute they took advantage of Mitch Duke's failure to track back. Pain managed to squeeze just enough space from Russell to fire a cross towards the far post area. With Georgievski occupied & blocked by Max Burgess, Aaron Calver had slipped in unmarked, his cushioned header went back across Lopar and landed in the middle of the goal for the equaliser.
Despite the clear need for fresh blood, not a single substitution was made by Markus Babbel. Those could have been made before the goal in an effort to push the attack to the visiting team, or after the Wanderers scored to take some of the heat out of the game and introduce fresh legs that would have been able to press & defend more effectively.
The draw was worth 1 point on the league ladder but practically worthless in terms of the direction of the team, especially when compared with the high flying W-League team and their earlier demolition of the Sydney FC's Women. 5 losses bracketed at either end by draws simply isn't good enough for the club. The pre-season hopes of a top 2 finish are dead, and right now even making the 6 team finals series looks shaky. With no plan B in offer, and talented attacking youth players seemingly unable to make enough of an impression to get onto the park at all, it remains to be see how Babbel can turn around this dire start of the season.
The Wanderers play Adelaide United on Friday December 27th in Adelaide.