After a bright start and an early goal, a calamitous error of judgement from Wanderers goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic undid all their hard work, as the 10 men of Westen Sydney trudged to an inevitable and all-too-familiar defeat against their arch nemesis.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 - 3 Sydney FC
Western Sydney had failed to defeat their cross city rivals in their last five meetings – but Sydney’s limp defeat to Wellington the previous week would have given Markus Babbel’s men renewed hope. For the Sky Blues, Alex Wilkinson’s illness gave a late repreive to Jop van der Linden, who was set to be dropped for Aaron Calver, but instead started alongside him.
Wild weather and lightning in Sydney saw train lines shut down and kickoff delayed by 40 minutes, as a disappointing crowd of just over 18,000 sheltered undercover from the pouring rain. When the match eventually kicked off, the Wanderers were dominant, targeting Sydney’s left flank and taking the lead through derby specialist Oriol Riera. Janjetovic’s red card completely swung the game, and Babbel may be left ruing his decision to sacrifice Alex Baumjohann for the back-up keeper.
Western Sydney Wanderers
Vedran Janjetovic - 2
One of the all-time A-League brain snaps. Janjetovic ran way outside his box to intervene in a situation that Ziegler seemed to have under control, and was forced to handball Le Fondre’s subsequent goalbound effort. The resulting red card forced Markus Babbel to sacrifice his best player, and left his side in the lurch.
Josh Risdon – 7.5
Tireless work rate and dealt reasonably well with Zullo and Ninkovic’s forays down his flank. Can hold his head high despite the defeat.
Brendan Hamill – 6
Camped on the edge of his own area for most of the match. Whether it was tactical instruction or sheer weight of possession, the captain couldn’t get his team out of their own half once they were down a man, and it only seemed a matter of time before they crumbled.
Patrick Ziegler – 6
His goalkeeper didn’t do him any favours when he intervened in a dual down the Wanderers’ right hand side. Could have given away a penalty for his challenge on Ninkovic, and will be dissapointed he let the ball bounce inside the six yard box before de Jong scored.
Tarek Elrich - 6
Wasn’t able to get forward and stayed in line with his centre backs for the majority of the match. Positionally astute but it looks as if his legs are deserting him at this stage of his career.
Keanu Baccus – 6.5
Held his own in midfield against physical opposition. Booked for a cynical foul on Le Fondre in the first half. Rarely able to impact the game offensively once his side went down to ten men.
Jordan O’Doherty – 6
Covered plenty of ground but not able to get on the ball at all in the second half.
Jaushua Sotirio – 7
A bright spark for the Wanderers during their early spell of dominance. Lost his 1v1 duel with Brillante in the lead up to the Sydney equaliser, perhaps naively overcomitting to the challenge. Went off early in the second half with a hamstring strain.
Alex Baumjohann - 8
Pulled the strings in midfield early on, delivering several tasty through balls. His wicked set piece delivery set up the opener. Substituted on 28 minutes to make way for the substitute goalkeeper – by no means a reflection on his performance.
Bruce Kamau - 6
Defended diligently but didn’t create any chances on the break. One wonders how the game would have panned out if he had been sacrificed rather than Baumjohann.
Oriol Riera - 7
Bundled the ball home into an empty net to open the scoring, although in truth the goal was a gift from Redmayne. Had an unenviable job trying to hold the ball up in the second half when he was often double or triple marked.
Danijel Nizic – 7
Couldn’t do much about any of the goals he conceded.
Roly Bonevacia – 6
A difficult situation to be introduced into, and wasn’t able to create any openings for his side.
Nick Fitzgerald – N/A
Not given enough time to influence proceedings.
Andrew Redmayne - 4
Displayed poor judgment and was caught in no man’s land for the first goal, coming out and missing Baumjohann’s free kick to leave Riera with a tap in.
Rhyan Grant – 6.5
Got forward with his usual enthusiasm but his deliveries lacked their usual quality.
Aaron Calver - 7
Looked reasonably solid on his first start this season. His dummy run was a crucial distraction for Sydney’s second, although he didn’t seem to get anything on the flick on. Went down with cramp in the 64th minute as Sydney lost their second centre half of the evening.
Jop van der Linden – 5.5
Looked ropey to start the game and was quickly substituted after succumbing to injury.
Michael Zullo – 5.5
Has been suspect defensively in recent weeks, and the Wanderers got plenty of joy down his flank early on. His deliveries from wide left much to be desired. Unlucky to be booked late on for a dive when he’d simply lost his footing.
Josh Brillante – 6.5
Booked inside the first 2 minutes for a rash challenge on O’Doherty. Struggled early on both defensively and in possession, but grew into the game after the red card. Crucial contribution for the equaliser as he beat Sotirio from a short corner and struck low and hard against the post.
Brandon O’Neill – 8.5
Deputised admirably at centre back after van der Linden’s withdrawal through injury. Delivered several brilliant balls into the box from set pieces, two of which led directly to goals.
Siem de Jong – 7.5
Initially looked rusty after returning from injury, and splayed a promising free kick high and wide. Nearly found the top corner with a terrific strike from just outside the area. Right place at the right time after Western Sydney failed to clear a corner, and his finish was confident off his weaker left peg.
Milos Ninkovic – 7
Could have been awarded a penalty after being tripped by Ziegler, but his protests went unanswered. Often had the right idea to pick apart the defence, but tended to underhit his passes on a heavy rain-soaked pitch.
Alex Brosque – 7
️⚽️ | Here's Brosquey's equalising strike as we head in all square in the #SydneyDerby at Half Time at @ANZStadium!#WatchWithUs LIVE the second half on @FOXFOOTBALL 505 & @10BoldAU or follow us here for updates...#SydneyIsSkyBlue #ComeWithUs pic.twitter.com/ErO3YKaKH0— Sydney FC (@SydneyFC) 15 December 2018
Virtually anonymous until his poacher’s finish to equalise on the stroke of halftime. Always a willing worker off the ball.
Adam Le Fondre – 7.5
Lively movement upfront and in the channels, and his quick thinking to strike at goal from the wing got Janjetovic sent off. Swing and a miss before de Jong put away the scraps, and drew a spectacular save out of Nizic with a brilliant header.
Paulo Retre – 7
Kept the ball moving in an unfamilar central midfield role. Was unlucky to be left out of the starting XI and was typically diligent if unspectacular when he made his early introduction.
Jacob Tratt – 8
Finally got his opportunity when Calver cramped up, and sealed the points for the Sky Blues with a bullet header. A dream debut for the Sydney boy.
Daniel De Silva – 6
Clearly keen to impress off the bench, and brought out a few fancy flicks and stepovers to little tangible end product. An exciting talent whose lack of first team opportunities this season is undoubtedly a cause for concern.