Wild finish as Wanderers miss big chance
IT had threatened to end in the dullest of draws but late VAR drama at Spotless Stadium added some spice to the 1-1 result between Western Sydney and Perth Glory.
First half goals to Mark Bridge and Xavi Torres gave the Wanderers and Perth Glory a share of the spoils, with the visitors forced to see out the final three minutes of the game with defender Dino Djulbic in goal.
Glory goalkeeper Liam Reddy was sent off for bringing down Jaushua Sotirio on the edge of the box after the VAR intervened, but it was hardly a clear-cut offence; Sotirio appeared to make the most of what little contact there was, with Glory coach Kenny Lowe likening the Wanderers forward to a scuba diver.
"I thought the flippers, the goggles and the snorkel might have given it away. He's not touched him," Lowe said.
But Perth hung on and, though it does nothing to help their finals hopes, the result leaves Western Sydney precariously hanging onto sixth spot with Brisbane Roar closing the gap to just two points.
Wanderers coach Josep Gombau was disappointed in his team's performance and says, with just five games remaining, the Wanderers need to improve to stand any chance of making the finals.
"I think we didn't do well at all," he said.
"We are playing at home, if we want to have something this year and to be in the top four, this kind of game we need to win at home. We have three more at home we need to win, if not we don't deserve to be there."
There was certainly a subdued atmosphere at Spotless Stadium, with the active support area closed for the game. It meant a crowd of just 6612, the lowest of the season, was there to support their team in a crucial game as the Wanderers continue their chase for a top six finish.
For the majority of the game the on-field play was a reflection of the atmosphere in the stadium. Chances were created but there was a lack of intensity in a what was a mostly dull encounter despite the late drama, particularly compared to the other thrilling games of the weekend.
It was an eventful start to the game at least, with both goals coming within three minutes of each other.
Making up for an earlier effort that he skied over the crossbar, Bridge gave the home side the lead in the 10th minute. It came after Keanu Baccus scuffed his shot and the ball fell to Bridge, who netted his sixth of the season with a low shot past Liam Reddy. A good finish made easier by some awful Perth defending.
But three minutes later the visitors got their equaliser when Joel Chianese was brought down in the box by Vedran Janjetovic, who just caught the forward with a trailing boot.
Xavi Torres converted from the spot and Perth were level, but they could have snatched the lead later on were it not for a superb reflex save from Janjetovic to keep Andy Keogh's effort out.
The Wanderers had chances to go into the break in the lead, notably when Chris Ikonomidis, after excellent work down the right, cut the ball back for Riera in the box only for the Spaniard to shoot straight at the keeper.