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  • The second Sydney Derby of the 2020/21 A-League season was an epic encounter that saw Scott McDonald's quick debut goal the difference between the two sides, the Wanderers running out 3-2 winners at Parramatta.

    Western Sydney came into the clash on the back of an embarrassing 5-4 loss to bottom of the table Melbourne Victory, extending their winless run to 6 games. Sydney FC were the mirror image of the Wanderers, having defeated Melbourne Victory in their last game to extend their unbeaten run to 6 games. The major news from the starting lineup for the home side was the Captain Dylan McGowan being left out of the squad entirely due to an injury. Both teams had a lot to play for, with the Wanderers capable of re-entering the top 6 with a big win while Sydney FC needed the three points to hold on to 2nd place on the table and Melbourne City in first. The loss to Melbourne heaped pressure on coach Carl Robinson leaving many thinking another loss could see him join the list of Gombau, De Maringy and Babbel on the WSW coaching chopping block.

    The first big chances of the game came in the 8th minute. First the Wanderers broke down the right wing, Bernie Ibini flashing a cross in front of Bruce Kamau that Andrew Redmayne grappled. He started a counter-attack that finished with Alexander Baumjohann hammering a low shot across the face of goal that Bobo was kept away from by Ziggy Gordon.

    The Wanderers opened the scoring against the run of play in the 11th minute. Ibini and Troisi combined before releasing Ziggy Gordon down the wide open right wing, his low cutback was run onto by Bruce Kamau, the forward coming across with a first time strike that beat Redmayne at the near post and clattered off the inside of the goal post to make it 1-0. 

    Buoyed by breaking the deadlock, the Wanderers lifted their energy levels and surged into a 2-0 lead just minutes later. Kamau was once again in the action, starting the move off from a cheap turnover by Luke Brattan. Kamau played a neat one-two pass with Troisi and continued into the area, played the ball inside for Ibini who tapped the ball dead for Mitch Duke and he fired past Redmayne with a placed left foot shot. Duke celebrated with his trademark corner flag splits as the crowd erupted.

    Sydney FC had a chance to pull one back in the 23rd minute. Ninkovic, having already got involved by illegally shoving Jordon Mutch after the ball had gone well out, lifted the ball over the top into the path of Bobo, but he couldn't keep his lobbed finish down enough. Ryan McGowan went into the officials notebook when he cut down Kamau to prevent him running into the penalty area. Mitch Duke & Luke Brattan were also carded after a fracas in the Sydney FC half. With a frenetic pace the remainder of the half passed like lightning and neither team could craft a clear cut chance before the break.

    In the lingering smoke from the half-time fireworks show, Sydney FC came out and picked up their first goal of the game with an Alex Wilkinson header from a 46th minute corner. The Sydney FC captain rose against Mark Natta, the Wanderers hadn't put men on the posts and the ball dropped slowly past the dive of Margush when someone on the post would have easily stopped & cleared it. Sydney FC nearly equalised as Ninkovic worked Baumjohann into the penalty area, his cross rebounded from the save of Margush onto the legs of Bobo and luckily for the home side it fell past the post.

    Carl Robinson made a triple change for the Wanderers in the 65th minute. New signing Scott McDonald, Tate Russell and Kwame Yeboah entered in place of James Troisi, Bernie Ibini and Mitch Duke. McDonald made an immediate impact. Tate Russel earned a corner off Joel King, Graham Dorrans delivered a pinpoint cross into the 6 yard box, McDonald played the poachers role to perfection, waited for the drop of the ball, rose to knock down a strong header into the turf then up over the man on the post to score on debut and make it a 3-1 lead.

    10 minutes from time the Wanderers counter-attacked through Russell, he beat King all ends up, the fullback pushed the ball for Yeboah and his fierce strike had to be palmed away for another Wanderers corner. VAR finally raised it's head in the 83rd minute. Trent Buhagiar lost control of the ball in the penalty area and then went down under soft shoulder to shoulder contact from Dorrans. After a 2 minute VAR check the ref confirmed his own decision and sent Bobo to the spot. With the game hanging in the balance, Bobo smashed the ball into the Parramatta River, making a complete mess of his shot. 

    The officials put up seven whole minutes of stoppage time, and with a long wait for Margush to get back up. Sydney FC took advantage of chaos in the area with Anthony Caceres running free onto the byline before putting the ball across goal, Bobo made up for his penalty miss with a trademark 1 meter out tap-in. Pouring on the pressure, Caceres had a strike from the edge of the area, he curled a right footed long bomb onto the top corner of the goalposts and it rocked out to save the Wanderers from having the game levelled. It was the last attack of the game, the Wanderers stoically held off as Sydney FC threw the kitchen sink until the 97th minute when the ref blew full time.

    It was a mammoth performance from the home team, every player putting in 100% for the full 90 minutes plus stoppages, throwing themselves into every challenge and when it required, showing clinical movement and passing that was beautifully finished to score the three goals that were needed to take all three points. It will not be an easy run into the finals but the victory provides a glimmer of hope if results go their way.

    The Wanderers next match is against Western United, a fixture that will have major implications for the top 6, taking place on Saturday May 8th at Parramatta Stadium, kick-off at 7:10PM.

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