Cold, Competitive and Classic Western Sydney.
It’s below 10 degrees at Club Marconi and the game is off between proud Serbian founded NPL side, Bonnyrigg White Eagles and A-league side, Western Sydney Wanderers.
A game where I am hoping, does not go like it did last time (where we almost got our asses kicked by a fiery and determined Hellenic Athletic, up in Darwin just a few weeks back) But how would I know how the game is going, I’m all the way back in Landsvale stuck in WESTERN SYDNEY TRAFFIC! And end up being 20 minutes late (Rosa, how do you put up with me?) But by the time we weaved through the backstreets of Sydney, took a few turns (a few an understatement, it was a maze), sped like maniacs through Canley Vale and finally ended up pushing all the other late attendees out of the way to make it into the grounds, the Red and Black have already scored on the 12th minute and it’s new signing, who was in the right place in the right time to pop in a rebound, No. 10 Alexander Baumjohann!
After finding Rosa and settling in the freezing cold climate that is Marconi Stadium, a quick and possession filled play of football is what the Wanderers continue to play and I am in shock and awe. How the boy’s in white tonight, play with such grace, such speed such….look, I am not sucking up just because I’m a supporter, I am genuinely glued to the field for the first half, loving how each player attempted to bring the ball forward and how it is going so well, how the team is working together almost perfectly.
My eyes are mainly glued to our wonderful defender, Raúl Llorente, who, can I just say, would do wonderfully for a Pantene advert. A fan favourite, my favourite and the teams favourite, to cause some damage and destruction down that left side of the pitch, acting as a defender and winger when he feels like it, never too far away to take over a stray ball and make something of it.
Another player who had my attention was Roly Bonevacia, didn’t have the best season, didn’t have the worst season last season but the guy was almost everywhere this game. Even though shots went astray, attempts were shut down by the Bonnyrigg defence, something good is going to come from this man if he continues to play like this.
Half time comes along and so far, so good for the Red and Black but Bonnyrigg are only a point behind and this is still anyones match.
In the time we spent waiting for the two teams to return to the pitch, what did we do? Froze to death and let social media know ALL about it. (If you have us on your socials, you’re welcome, we’re entertaining, we know. And if you don’t have us on any of your socials…I’ll give you ONE CHANCE to change or else, no pressure ❤️)
The cold becomes unbearable as the second half begins, I’m shaking in my little kids sneakers, Rosa’s trying not to die from the common cold, Bonnyrigg is trying to come back from this 1 – 0 lead the Wanderers have against them, and the Wanderers are trying not to to give up this 1 – 0 le- oh look, they lost it.
65th minute, a WONDERFUL free kick from No.7 Tynan Diaz. WONDERFUL! Ronaldo, eat your heart out! (Insert instagram story here of the mental live action)
In it curls into the left corner, Nizic can’t touch it, perfect timing and a perfect dent it made in Western Sydney’s confidence and it’s starting to show as they begin to drop in focus and drop in speed through out the remainder of the second half.
Bonnyrigg make a handful of threatening attempts in red and black territory, a few which were ready to hit the back of the net but with a few lucky tackles from Llorente and Risdon, were enough to stop the White Eagles in their tracks but it’s still showing that the Eagles are starting to find their feet and the Wanderers are losing theirs.
A few slopping moves from Western Sydney and I’m having flashbacks of last season where almost 80% of our second half always ended in use giving away crucial goals that lead us to draws or losses. I’m getting nervous for the left side of the field because we’re beginning to let too many forward passes and crosses slide, thank good god for Nizic for a crucial save that I personally thought was going to go between his legs but the kid has proved me wrong and A LOT better than he was against Hellenic …I’m also nervous about how frozen I am and if I’ll be able to walk back to the car but I’m here writing this article and you’re here reading, so I live to tell the tale, huzza!
We’re dropping again, and it scaring me. I’ve turned to Rosa for the 20th time to complain about how cold it is (I live here, ffs, for 20 years and I still complain about the same cold) and also about how my gut is saying “We’re going to lose, we’re dropping like last season, farewell Quarter finals”. This is a feeling I know all too well…
But guess what, the tide turns and the Wanderers begin to pick up again, not entirely but I’m seeing a slight difference in the dying minutes of the match. Can it be, do my eyes deceive me? THEY’RE ATTEMPTING TO SCORE AGAIN AND IT’S ON TARGET!? MY OH MY, Brendon Hamill, he’s scored with his head! It’s 2 – 1 and my fingers suddenly are working, as I flip the bird to all the haters who said we would lose (I did…I said we would lose, I’m basically telling myself I’m an idiot).
Bonnyrigg don’t let up though, 2 – 1 down yet they’re still giving it a go and a much threatening one, once again, I’m not seeing the same Western Sydney as I did in the first half. It’s something that needs fixing or this season will be just another “Deja vu” (would you look at that, I speak French now)
But shortly after the goal, it’s comes to a close and the game finishes with the Wanderers taking themselves to the Quarter Finals. An entertaining match, a nice crowd and according to many, DAMN GOOD CEVAPI ROLLS! (Didn’t get one, I couldn’t move, was frozen) It was nice to see Marconi Stadium full once again, to see a crowd that stood against the fence line by the droves and the active support from both the Wanderers and Bonnyrigg take part in creating an atmosphere for what was, another magical moment in the cup. Always good to hear the Red and Black Bloc again, my god it’s been a long time since I’ve heard that mob.
But returning back to the match, there are still a handful of things that need to be worked on for the Red and Black before they are to take on Former FFA Cup winners, Melbourne City. These small handful of problems…are more major than we think. Like I mentioned before, dropping in energy in the second half, is a no go. We’ve seen how it ends for us, we’ve also seen how parking the bus ends for us…it ain’t PRETTY! So these are the main things we need to work on before the next round reaches us. The Western Sydney boys are also winning matches but not by a large margin, especially against sides such as NPL level teams, it’s shocking to an extent. We have NPL teams out-playing the A-league teams and if that doesn’t say something about the work being put into A-league level, fitness, mentality and planning of play, then I don’t know what does. If the Red and Black don’t find a way around this before they face a side like Melbourne City, our ass is grass.
But until next FFA Match, where we freeze our fingers off and spend $10 on a cevapi roll, I bid you adieu (that’s French for, farewell, you uneducated monolingual lot) ….. (I actually google translated it…I didn’t pay attention during High school languages, I’m a fraud)
HAVE A SWELL WEEK!