Adelaide United and Western Sydney Wanderers have recorded their third straight stalemate in Hyundai A-League season 2015/16, following their 0-0 draw on Saturday night.
Neither side were able to come up with a winner throughout a tense 90 minutes at ‘Wanderland’, both teams proving why they’re two of the favourites for this season’s Championship.
A closely fought opening half was typical of the types of matches played out between the two sides so far this season, which both saw the points shared at Coopers and Pirtek stadiums.
The Wanderers applied more of the pressure in the first couple of minutes, but it was the Reds with the best of the chances, first coming through the a Bruce Djite driving run, followed by a Bruce Kamau run of the same nature.
With eight minutes on the club, Djite burst into the Wanderers’ box, one-on-one with Alberto thanks to a great through-ball from Sergio Cirio. Djite then tried to centre for an arriving Stefan Mauk towards the top of the box, but Andreu intercepted at the most crucial of moments.
Three minutes later, a ridiculously timed long ball from Isaias went in search of Kamau, after the winger sprung the offside trap with an amazing run. Kamau controlled the ball with brilliant finesse, but just as he looked to round Liam Reddy, in goal for the hosts, Reddy charged in the direction of the No. 24, causing him to lose balance and go to ground.
Remarkably, Reddy escaped any sanction and instead is was Kamau who was booked for what referee, Takuto Okabe, deemed simulation.
The rest of the first half played out in a cagey fashion, United soaking up large amounts of pressure from Western Sydney, however flaunting their slick passing and utilising it to perfection whenever they were in precarious situations.
Dylan McGowan, who is still yet to miss a moment of Hyundai A-League football for the Reds, was a giant at the back for Guillermo Amor’s side, battling well with Mark Bridge in particular, who led the line for the Wanderers.
Cirio and Djite were lively for United going forward, whilst Craig Goodwin was as defensively sound as anyone on the park, forced to revert back into the Reds’ back-four through Jordan Elsey’s suspension.
But it was Isaias who played conductor for the visitors setting the tempo for United’s play and putting his touch on most of their moves.
Just after the half-hour mark, Djite had a shot on goal blocked and Kamau drove a low cross towards the back post, but neither amounted to a clear chance.
Following the interval, a revitalised Western Sydney took the field and threw everything towards Eugene Galekovic’s goal throughout the second half. Romeo Castelen in particular was in good form going forward, but was, for the most part, kept quiet considering how often he looked to take on his man.
Michael Marrone was eager to get forward himself whenever possible, but was also solid defensively during the entirety of the 90 minutes.
In the 66th minute, Isaias threaded a perfect ball for Mauk to get on the end of, but as the attacking midfielder was steaming forward, Wanderers Captain, Nikoai Topor-Stanley, bundled him off the ball.
For the final 20 minutes of the match, Galekovic was called into action much more than the 70 minutes prior, producing a number of match-saving saves. Former United forward and current Socceroo, Dario Vidosic, had a chance from a Castelen cross, but his header was incredibly lacklustre and Galekovic collected with complete ease.
The Reds’ No. 1 then saved the points at the feet of Vidosic, when a Western Sydney corner bounced off the upright. With Goodwin manning the front post, Galekovic was unable to collect the football from the rebound, the ball falling to the feet of Vidosic. However, with incredible reflexes and no regard for his own safety, Galekovic launched himself at Vidosic’s boots, smothering his strike and keeping his side in the game.
Irrespective of the match’s significance, Amor handed Hyundai A-League debuts to Mark Ochieng and Riley McGree in the latter stages of the match. Both, in addition to Mate Dugandzic, who was also brought into the match, added much-needed fresh legs to United’s efforts going forward, but also in defence.
But with 93 minutes on the clock, Bridge had the chance to take a valuable point from the grasp of the Reds, when the ball fell to him inside the box. However, the striker, with nine goals to his name this season, dragged his effort narrowly wide of Galekovic’s right post.
After the match, Amor was full of praise for his players, declaring they were “magnificent”, whilst admitting that he and United will take the point they earned in what was nothing short of a difficult and hard-fought match.
“We wanted to win, but, today, one point against the top team, in their stadium full of their fans, is not bad.
“The Wanderers had more control in the second half, but not in the first half.
“In moments, it is necessary to defend and in others it is necessary for you to attack. It’s impossible to attack for 90 minutes and the same in defence.
“For us, we feel we defended well and in the second half it was difficult, but we pressed (Western Sydney).
“The attitude of our players was fantastic, and our players deserve (a lot of recognition for this).
“I am privileged to be coaching this group of footballers. For me, they were magnificent.”
Saturday, 19 March 2016
Hyundai A-League Round 24
Western Sydney Wanderers 0
Adelaide United 0
Venue: Pirtek Stadium