New year, New me…diocre performance for the WSW in the Baccus Derby.
The first fixture of the year was going to give either side the ability to create their own records and streaks for 2019. Melbourne City can now lay claim to the most send-offs in 2019, whilst Western Sydney’s RBB wasted no time in having the first active support walk out (slash some were banned at half time for abusing players at the tunnel) for the year. Maybe they all have work the next day and the midweek fixture just didn’t suit their schedules. Maybe they were clearing out the bay to support the local bird-breeding program given their passion for animal conservation and all. Or maybe, as confirmed by the RBB statement, they’re just sick and tired of their side not being able to capitalise on a player advantage for over 30 minutes for two weeks running and have called the side’s 2-0 defeat to Melbourne City “the final straw”.
Risdon and Sotirio were out for WSW, although the side was bolstered by the return of Janjetović post serving his suspension for getting handsy outside of the box. And as repetitive as people’s new year’s resolutions each year, Fornaroli continues to not be named for City.
On a lighter note, Babbel’s outfit choice was somewhat underwhelming this week, especially given the New Year’s Day occasion. Perhaps his party shirt was in the wash from the night before. Or perhaps he knew he didn’t have to up the fashion stakes too much to compete with the likes of Kurz’s scarf and Rudan’s leather jacket, when a pair of chinos and boat shoes were always going to eclipse Joyce’s grandpa sweater and shorts combo.
The game started off with as little bang as a toy gun in the stands. City’s tactic of boring the opposition through playing a high possession, high passing game paid off in the 35th. WSW’s defence were caught napping following a Vidošić throw-in as long as the list of times WSW fans bring up their 2014 ACL win. WSW attempted to catch Lachlan Wales in an off-side trap, however not being able to be off-side from a throw-in, Wales found himself with oodles of space to put the ball in the back of the net. How cute that both of their dads were there to see such a moment.
And just 122 seconds later came the breaking point for all WSW fans, with de Laet capitalising at the top of the box from a McGree cutback to double City’s lead. WSW fans were left to stew for the rest of the half and at the break as the players departed down the tunnel, some RBB members gave the players some choice words that were likely inspired by McBreen’s take of the CCM’s performance on New Years Eve.
The start of the second half saw an early spark for WSW, with Baccus missing an opportunity in the 47th from the byline. Sensing the unfair advantage, Griffiths came in to make a senseless foul on Baumjohann to cop a second yellow and an early shower. Well early once he finally got off the pitch. Brattan didn’t seem too pleased to be the sacrificial substitution, or maybe he was upset that there were rumours floating around pre-match of him joining the floundering WSW.
The final 10 minutes saw a goalkeeping masterclass from Galekovic for WSW to be denied more times than my credit card post Christmas. The heroic gloves of Galekovic firstly denied both Hamill and Majok in the 81st, in what was later called off-side anyway, followed by blocking Bonevacia’s right foot shot in the 84th and Majok again in the 85th. Then came the ultimate denial like turning around and seeing your crush kissing someone else at midnight on New Years. Atkinson conceded a penalty in the 85th following a handball in the box and copping a deserved yellow for the spray he gave Kersey for the decision. Riera stepped up to
the spot for some of his only involvement for the match, only for the shot to be safely pushed out of play by Eugene simultaneously as Riera’s heart broke in two.
This was all so beautiful to watch unless you were a WSW fan or Mark Birighitti, who you must feel for with his career coming full circle for him to sit as second string on the bench to Galekovic again. Galekovic’s fountain of youth can be attributed to his recent 7kg weight loss, so perhaps start bringing in a dozen Krispy Kremes everyday with Eug’s name on them to work Bira?
The silence of the RBB further sunk the already dreary atmosphere of ANZ Stadium with the two team’s performances as juxtaposed as the coach’s outfits. It’s perhaps not all doom and gloom for WSW; at least with the calendar ticking over, this is finally the year the Wanderer’s can say they will be back at Parramatta. And perhaps the latest signing of Yeboah will have the crowds screaming yeah boyyy once more. But first, let’s see what happens when they face Victory in a few days time.
By Hayley Leedham