Gold Stars and Red Cards – Wanderers vs Central Coast Mariners (2019/20 Rd1)

A-League 2019/20 Round 1 vs Central Coast Mariners 12/10/2019 Wanderland 2.0
2-1 Win

New season, new format to disassociate from shameless appropriators. Welcome to ⭐ Gold Stars (good) and 📕 Red Cards (bad) as I look at our return to Parramatta and Wanderland 2.0.

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It’s Good To Be Home
It has been discussed on various mediums ad nauseam regarding the WSW return to Parramatta this season. What it meant from a fan’s perspective was actually seeing other fans before a WSW game, a non lonesome walk through an Olympic Park precinct that resembled a set from The Walking Dead and actually being able to see the players without the need of a telescope supplied by NASA.

Security were virtually non existent, the police were out of sight and the vibe was positive all round. It was such a polar opposite to what we had to endure for 3 years at SOP.
Maybe they’ve finally realised that not all WSW games need to be classified as high risk (a contact in the police force informed me that all WSW games were classified as high risk).

The next home game being the Sydney Derby may be a bit different, but that will be expected.

Our Starting XI at Wanderland 2.0
Injuries meant the likes of Ziggy, Kamau and Yeboah miss out on our return to Wanderland. Majewski being out for the season means the no.10 role needs to be filled. The injuries gave chances to the likes of Tass to get a start in the backline again and Sullivan to fill that attacking midfielder role. The bench was all youth. It seemed a bit lacking and not having the game changers you’d hope to see, but in reality all the subs made a difference when they came on.

📕Elrich Joins the Injury Ward
15 minutes in to his A-League return to Parramatta in red and black and Tarek Elrich pulls up with a hamstring injury. One would think if Kamau was fit or Tate Russell wasn’t with the u23s national team that Elrich would not have started. Disappointing for Elrich as now he will miss the next few weeks to get back to full fitness. His future at the club will be appearances off the bench once everyone else gets fit and healthy.

This seems to be a weekly occurrence in these articles. Lopar saves us again and again and we all don’t have panic attacks whenever the ball ends up in our box. The guy has amazing reflexes as a shot stopper and will save us multiple points throughout the season.
With the defence in front of him however, on paper, he shouldn’t have to make so many crucial saves. So more work needs to be done in that area from the team.
He couldn’t do anything for the goal because the deflection made the ball loop over his head and dip at the last instance to hit the underside of the crossbar.

Youth Still Taking Their Chances
Continuing on from last season, when the youth get a chance, more often than not they take it. Mo Adam made a difference when he came on. He hassled the defenders, won the ball back and broke through a few times. The only disappointing thing is that once he laid off the ball he never got the return pass so he could have an attempt at goal. Grozos looked lively when he was subbed on and if he stays fit he’ll get his chance to make a name for himself. Wilmering didn’t look out of place when he came on for an injured Elrich. I don’t think we’ll ever have a problem with expanding our bench to 7 with two under 23 players, if we so choose.

📕Taking VARever
Quickly running out of VAR puns here. Majority of the stadium saw the handball, the entire WSW team saw it. None of the refs saw it. So play on….for 3 minutes until VAR calls it back. That’s ridiculous. If CCM scored, their goal gets cancelled and we go back to the penalty? Can’t the ref just stop play in these situations and then give a drop ball if there is no penalty? Surely that is better than having VAR flashing on screen for 3 minutes and play continuing.
The penalty was a penalty and VAR got it right, but again, its just the process that is annoying people.

The Duke
Amusingly before the corner was taken I said to those around me “we’ll score here”.
Hell no, from a corner?! Was the response.
“New team, new attitude!” was my ridiculous response.
And then Mitch Duke headed it home near post.
We didn’t deserve to be down at half time so the goal was perfect timing leading into the break.
Duke got the double with the VAR penalty.
I was surprised Duke started the game and equally surprised he played 90 minutes. As previously mentioned, and also by Babbel, circumstances and availability forced the likes of Duke to play the full game.
His fighting spirit led by example and he didn’t celebrate the equaliser. He knew the job wasn’t done yet.

A Win, But Far From Perfect
I’ll give the win a gold star, but the performance wasn’t the best. Lopar had to make more saves than Birighitti for one. We scraped through and even Babbel says we were lucky. But a win is a win and last season we never got these results. The team fought to the end, and that’s all we can really ask for. The entire team acknowledge it wasn’t the greatest performance and work is needed, but with a few players to come back from injury and others to get to full fitness, there has to be some air of positivity around the camp. Unfortunately we don’t have time to have a slow start. We have Victory away next and then the Sydney Derby. Two huge games that we need to get results in if we think we are going to be contenders this season.

See you space cowboy…

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