Wanderers denied by ref in Reds stalemate
WERE it not for a controversial refereeing decision the Western Sydney Wanderers might have got the win, but instead all they could manage was a dour 0-0 stalemate against Adelaide United.
It was their 10th draw of the campaign and their fourth at Spotless Stadium, where they still haven't won all season.
The game was as flat as the Sydney weather was wet, with both teams surely still fatigued following their midweek sojourns into Asia.
The Wanderers only returned on Thursday, while Adelaide had an even shorter turnaround after arriving home on Friday. Though the Wanderers managed to make some changes to their line-up, they were still understandably flat.
So the grand final replay turned out to be a relatively quiet night in. Adelaide, bottom of the ladder, have very little to play for, while the Wanderers continue to hang on to that sixth spot - but only just. Wellington and the Newcastle Jets are right behind them.
The damp weather and Mardis Gras night also resulted in a low-key turnout at Spotless Stadium, though the official attendance figure was somewhere around 8000.
Despite more than enough chances, somehow the result was a stalemate, but that's been the story of the Wanderers' season. They spent what seemed like 45 minutes in Adelaide's half in the opening stanza, yet came away with nothing to show for it. Nico Martinez had a header saved by Daniel Margush, Lachlan Scott's tap-in was miraculously cleared off the line by Dylan McGowan and a cross by Jack Clisby that sizzled across Margush's goal was missed by both Scott and Jumpei.
It was desperate defending from the visitors. When the Wanderers finally got the ball in the back of the net through Dimas, referee Kris Griffith-Jones pulled it back for a foul. Scott's wrestling of the ball out of Margush's hands was controversially deemed illegal. Replays suggested - as did Popovic - that the goal should have stood, though the Wanderers should have been 3-0 up by that stage anyway.
The Wanderers could have done with Brendon Santalab, but the striker was forced to sit out with a minor hamstring strain.
The home side kicked off the second half in much the same fashion. Terry Antonis had his long-range shot saved by Margush, as was Scott's header.
Jumpei's attempt took a deflection that could have sent the ball anyway, but it whizzed past the outside of the post.
Adelaide got themselves back into the game and had their chances, but there did seem to be an inevitability about the end result. Jaushua Sotirio had his shot saved and Antonis hit the bar in the 90th minute.