FFA Cup Round of 16 vs Bentleigh Greens – 29/08/2017 Kingston Heath Soccer Complex
Welcome to the first in what I hope to be a regular column that will look at the latest competitive game for the Western Sydney Wanderers.
Doing something a bit different here in that I’ll list things that stood out for me and whether they were a Best or Worst.
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Worst – Commentators overreacting
The opening 5 minutes saw Bentleigh with a lot of the ball. And those watching at home were subjected to Brenton Speed and Sasha Ognenovski making it sound like WSW were being completely dominated. It wasn’t as if Wanderers were sitting deep and were under a lot of pressure. We always start games slow and take a while to ease our way into it.
The funniest part was…
Best – First chance = goal
Baccus made a run deep from midfield, was dragged back about 25 yards from goal. Roly Bonevacia played a quick ball to an unmarked Jumpei on the right who put in a cross along the deck. It seemed the intended target was Riera for a tap in but either his run was mis-timed or the cross wasn’t where it was supposed to be. The Bentleigh ‘keeper got a hand to it but Captain Cornthwaite was there for the tap in. This was “against the run of play” but I did think to myself that we’d score with our first chance, and lo and behold we did.
Another rehearsed set piece and it was good to see the Captain follow up to be at the right place at the right time.
Worst – Vedran Butterfingertovic
I’m noticing a trend with Vedran that he can’t pluck a ball out of the air from a corner or similar cross. He always has to have two attempts at it. It’s definitely his weak point and let’s hope Kalac recognises this and puts him through his paces to rectify it.
Worst – Commentators with incorrect stats
The entire match Brenton Speed would exclaim about how huge Mark Bridge is for the Wanderers every time he was on screen and how he is the all time leading goal scorer for the club.
Those that paid attention last season will know that Santalab actually broke Mark Bridge’s record when he scored 14 goals last season (the highest ever for a Wanderer in an A-League season).
I would point this out to Speed on Twitter but he blocked me a couple years ago. Probably because I kept ripping into him for telling the audience useless EPL stats from 1994 during an A-League game.
Best – Risdon to Riera = Goal
I expect to see this headline many times this season. Many WSW fans were happy with Risdon’s signing as he is a proper attacking fullback. Something we have lacked last season on the right. Riera appears quite competent in the air and now this makes it 2 headed goals for him in back to back FFA Cup games. When Cejudo, Bridge and Llorente join the lineup on the wings, A-League defences will need to be wary of Riera’s aerial threat.
Worst – Penalty blunders
I think many Wanderers fans expected Riera to get a double when he stepped up to take the penalty to send WSW 3-0 up. Instead he hit the post, Jumpei headed the rebound across goals (instead of going for goal) for Sotirio to air swing. Play the sequence of events with the Benny Hill music for your own amusement.
Worst/Best – Bridge returns but played as a number 10
This might have been just due to lack of availability and yellow card accumulation. But when Bridge made his long awaited return, he replaced Bonevacia in the number 10 role. In the past, Bridge played there because he had to, but we all assumed he’d be playing on the left wing during his 2nd stint with the club. Its not crucial this time around as WSW were 2-0 up at the time and it may have just been to give Roly a rest and Bridge some minutes.
After rumours that Bridge wasn’t cleared to play due to complications with his release from his former Thai club, it was surprising to see him on the bench and get onto the field.
He came on and scored from the spot to get on the scoresheet in his first competitive fixture back at the club. He has been scoring for fun in trial matches too so its good to see that we have goals coming from across the park now.
Worst – Lack of depth on wings, for now
Sotirio and Jumpei are not the greatest starting wingers to have for an A-League squad. Sure, Jumpei got an assist and Sotirio won 2 penalties but the latter should have had a hattrick with the chances he had and Jumpei’s refusal to use his left foot for anything was found out by A-League opposition last year. Its amazing Bentleigh didn’t know this and allowed Jumpei to beat his man a few times. But with Bridge and Cejudo waiting in the wings (pun intended), as the season progresses it’ll be interesting to see how many minutes these 2 get.
Worst – Giving up possession
The argument is that possession means nothing and effective possession is all that matters. This is true and the fact we had a clean sheet and scored 4 goals is all that really matters. It could be seen as a bit concerning that for large parts of the game Bentleigh controlled the game and had the larger share of the ball. An A-League club will probably punish us more with that much possession so its something the coaching staff have to be aware of. We never looked in any real danger though.
Best – Lachlan Scott
I was a bit worried that with Riera, Santa, Bridge in the squad that young Lachlan Scott will drop way down the pecking order and get very few minutes this season. He needs to keep playing to continue his development from last season where he was thrown in the deep end with the departure of Bulut and the ageing Santa not being able to back up 90 minute every week.
I was happy to see him come even if it was for 10 minutes. It takes the pressure off him and he can just simply get minutes and continue to develop. Having all those experienced goal scorers around him every day at training can only be a good thing for the promising youngster.
Best – Another clean sheet
Can’t complain about this one. Another clean sheet which means our defence is looking decent. Some nervous moments with the ball bouncing around in the box and WSW failing to clear their lines but Vedran was hardly tested and the experience of Captain Cornthwaite and Mr Underpants Thwaite was telling. Where this leaves young Aspro is anyone’s guess. He will probably miss a bunch of games due to Olyroo duty so it makes sense why Popa brought in Thwaite so we aren’t subjected to Hamill as a centreback this season.
Best – 4 goals
Wanderers took their chances to score “against the run of play” a few times this match. Positive signs indeed from a team that has struggled to score in the last few years and an over reliance on Brendon Santalab who wasn’t even on the bench for this match.
4 goals, clean sheet. That’s all that really matters at the end of the day.