The Western Sydney Wanderers travelled to Perth to take on the Glory in a late Sunday fixture with massive implications for the top 6 race, and left after being annihilated 5-1 with Andy Keogh making his birthday one to remember by scoring four goals.
The Wanderers came in knowing that a win or draw would see them replace Brisbane Roar in 6th place while for Perth they needed all three points to have any hope of making the finals. The Glory named their fearsome front four of Diego Castro, Chris Ikonomidis, Bruno Fornaroli and Andy Keogh. The Wanderers introduced new signing Steven Ugarkovic into the starting 11 for the first time.
The match started with a bit of eccentricity, former Wanderers goalkeeper Liam Reddy taking a back-pass and ending up a bit of a muddle with James Troisi before hitting it out for a throw-in. Both teams used their now familiar three at the back formations.
Andy Keogh hadn't scored for Perth all season in his 18 games, and on his birthday he broke his goal drought in the 5th minute. Tate Russell was poorly positioned and couldn't stop Castro from releasing Kosuke Ota down the right flank, his cross was pinpoint, finding Keogh 6 yards out from goal, despite both central defenders in close proximity neither of them could impact on the ball or his finish, a powerful glancing header into the side netting.
Keogh had a glorious chance to pick up a double, he rose above Ziggy Gordon at the far post but couldn't keep the header on target. Russell won a corner in the 14th minute, his direct long run from half-way beat Ota, he took on the shot and forced a save out of Reddy. After a series of midfield pinball, the Wanderers found themselves on the attack, Troisi just unable to beat Reddy to a squirming ball in the penalty area but Duke ran onto the rebound and blasted it into Reddy's stomach from point blank range, leaving the keeper down for a short period of time.
Keogh had his double with an extraordinary goal. Fornaroli chested down the ball and passed off to Keogh, it bounced perfectly for an audacious volley from 38 yards out, Daniel Margush was out of his goal protecting from a through ball that was never coming, and he had to retreat fast, running into his own goal his body shape was completely wrong, his attempt at a save was a comical one and both he and the ball finished nestled in the back of the net.
Perth were totally dominant for the entire half, the Wanderers had no answer to Perth pushing Fornaroli back into the midfield setup nor did they have any creativity in the Perth half, missing simple passes, lacking cohesive combination play and even finding it hard for simple shots from distance.
Bruce Kamau has been the Wanderers best player all season and he continued his good form, single-handedly dragging the visitors back into the contest with a 48th minute strike of real quality. Patrick Ziegler made a run into the Perth half, the defence backed away from the central defender but as he approached the penalty area he played the ball off to Kamau who was in a mile of open space. Fornaroli could have cut him down for a foul but wanted to avoid an obvious yellow card, and none of the Perth defensive line closed him down. Taking the opportunity he launched a venomous right footed shot that slammed in off the far post upright with Reddy not getting close to making a save.
Graham Dorrans was very close to equalising, after Perth cleared away a corner it came back with interest as he combined with Duke in a one-two that gave Dorrans a clear shot at goal. With no-one closing him down from 18 yards out the shot flashed past the post with Reddy extremely concerned. Troisi followed up on the hour mark with a long bomb that Reddy doublehanded out for a corner. Fornaroli who has been a real pain in the hole between defence & midfield left the game with Joel Chianese coming on his in stead.
Perth stopped the Wanderers momentum from the penalty spot. With a wide attack, Castro played in Chianese on the right wing, his attempt at a cross smashed into the hand of Ziegler, who had slid in for a block only to have the ball rebound from his hip onto his arm. For all the complaints about the VAR and handball changes, the players have had long enough to know they need to keep the top hand down when sliding, or to adjust their method of play. The line about "un-natural positions" sealed the deal and VAR would not overturn the call. Keogh converted the spot kick for his hat-trick, extending the lead back out to two with a perfect penalty that beat Margush going the right way.
Keogh had his fourth in the 70th minute. Ikonomidis danced around two tackles, his cross deflected high up in to the air, looped to the back post, a yard out and Keogh couldn't miss. It was a simple goal that came from ball-watching and poor defending.
Nick D'Agostino almost added a 5th at the start of stoppage time, faking a ball across to the right before cutting back in and shooting along the deck, having Margush beaten but not quite on target. Chianese did pick up the 5th however, in the 93rd minute Perth counter-attacked, Keogh finding Osama Malik, he played a superb defence splitting pass, Chianese ran on and toe poked it around the onrushing Margush to see the match finish 5-1.
Western Sydney were never truly in the contest, the short period of hope following Kamau's goal was extinguished by the penalty and Perth ran rampant in the final half hour. With four games left in the Season the Wanderers are now almost certainly only playing for the 6th and final spot on the ladder, and this loss has added Perth to the list of teams now in the fight for it. Bernie Ibini summed up the mentality of the side when he was spotted having a laugh with Liam Reddy following the final whistle, after coming on to do absolutely nothing to improve the team on the pitch in his 18 minute cameo. The 5-4 loss to Melbourne Victory now has a competitor for the lowest point in the season thus far, with next weekend's Derby a possible killing blow for the season and perhaps the tenure of Carl Robinson.
The Wanderers next game is against Sydney FC, at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Sunday May 23rd with kick-off at 4:05PM.