The Wanderers came into their match with Wellington Phoenix practically requiring a win to keep their hopes of finals football alive as the restarted A-League comes to the clutch period before the play-offs, and Kwame Yeboah earned all 3 points with a second half goal.
The only change to the lineup for the home side was putting Irish striker Simon Cox in the place of Mo Adam. Second placed Wellington were in hot form and looking to secure their 2nd place against Melbourne City. The game opened with a nasty challenge from Loius Fenton on the new man Cox, he missed a clearance and followed through collecting Cox in the shin. No card, and no foul as is typical for A-League refs. Wellington came within inches of opening the scoring in just the 3rd minute as David Ball curled a strike from outside the area onto the far post, it bounced on the goal line then into the other post without being clearly wholly over the goal-line and the linesman & referee decided to play on.
Tate Russel bought the crowd to life with an attempted lob from half-way. The match stopped cold in the 20th minute when Loius Fenton continued his assaults on the Wanderers by taking out Nicolai Muller in a mid-pitch attack, as Muller nodded the ball forward to continue an attack, Fenton came in wild and late and collected the Wanderers attacker with a head-on collision that should have been immediately punished with a red card. Instead the referee waved play-on, and then handed a yellow to Fenton who should have already been sent off. Medical staff ran onto the pitch and tended to the knocked-out & concussed Wanderer as he laid on the turf for nearly 10 minutes before being taken off the field on a stretcher. Kwame Yeboah took to the field to take his place.
Kurt Ams continued his poor officiating performance as he found a non-existent foul on the edge of the area, thankfully the shot from Callum McCowatt was weak and landed safely in the arms of Tristan Prendergast. Baccus then failed to get the benefit of the doubt as Ams waved play-on after the midfielder was clipped in the ankles in a similar positon on the other side of the field.
In the first of the 6 minutes injury time the Wanderers attack nearly found the opener. Duke broke down the left flank and outpaced the Wellington defence, passed through to Cox and made a run back into the box. Duke found the return cut-back and fired on goal, it bobbled on the turf and couldn't beat the keeper. Not long after he launched a long range drive on goal that flew into the limited crow and was the last major attack of the goal-less but action packed first half.
Pirmin Schwegler made his way onto the pitch as a substitute for Jordan O'Doherty. The opening stages of the half had little in the way of strong attacks, but a lot of ructions on and off the field. Cam Devlin won himself a well earned yellow after delaying a restart after a Wellington foul and he was followed into the book by Ufuk Talay the Wellington coach.
Western Sydney finally had a deserved one man advantage in the 66th minute. Schwegler played a neat through ball for the run of Yeboah and he torched Luke Devere for pace and his only response was to take out the Wanderer before he made his way into the penalty area. Devere earned his 2nd yellow card in the space of 10 minutes and was off down the tunnel. Schwegler took the free kick but blasted it into the wall.
Kwame Yeboah finally made the pressure pay for the Wanderers in the 73rd minute. Tate Russell, who was one of the best for the Wanderers on the night launched a cross that took enough of a deflection off the attempted block to loop the ball in a fashion that gave the unmarked Yeboah a free header on the 6 yard box and he flashed a glancing header well down to the bottom corner of the far post to give his team a 1-0 lead with 15 minutes to play. Simon Cox should have doubled the lead not long after when Duke fired a ball along the face of goal but with the goal open wide Cox got his feet tangled up and let it fly away for a thrown in. Reno Piscopo has a pair of free kick chances for the Nix and he couldn't get either of them to threaten Prendergast in goal.
Wellington kept their hopes alive with wave after wave of attack, with time running out they threw everyone including the keeper forward, earning multiple corners in a row, with one that David Ball flashed to the near post only to see it turned away by Mo Adam standing on the far post. The Wanderers finally cleared their lines and Kurt Ams blew full time on the tough 1-0 win.
It leaves the Western Sydney Wanderers 4 points away from the top 6, with Adelaide and Perth on 34 points with Western United and the Wanderers chasing them on 30. It was a hard fought win, with Wellington still looking good in attack even with a man down, the Wanderers have clear opportunities for improvement leading to a hopeful finals run. Muller with a severe concussion and possible head fracture might be out for a long time though, and the rest of the team will need to step up.
The next match for the Wanderers is against Perth Glory on Tuesday August 4th, kick off at 7:30PM.