The Best and Worst of Wanderers vs Central Coast Mariners (Rd 2)

A-League Round 2 vs Central Coast Mariners – 14/10/2017 Spotless Stadium
2-2 Draw

Welcome to this week’s edition of the Best and Worst series. This time we hosted Central Coast Mariners in Round 2 who remain undefeated at Spotless Stadium.
Note: I haven’t had a chance to rewatch the game so all these opinions are based on what I saw live.

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Best – Same Starting Lineup
Apart from Risdon who was expected to slot straight into the right-back position, the rest of the XI were the same as our Round 1 match against Perth Glory. With Popovic gone it means the end of the “rotation policy”. But seriously, who expected major changes to the lineup anyway? The team is playing 1 game a week and everyone is fit. There’s no point in tinkering when we won last round. The only change I can see happening in the future is Bridge getting a start, but so far Jumpei appears to be above him in fitness and even impact.

Worst – Vedran Noconfidencetovic
I’ve noticed this over the past few years with Vedran. He makes an error and his head goes down. The first goal is squarely on his shoulders. He should have caught the ball, simple as that. Instead he spilled it and gifted the Mariners a tap in. But after that goal, Vedran was hesitant for the majority of the match. He couldn’t commit to either coming out or staying on his line. He look shook and nervous whenever the ball entered his box. This is not what you expect from your number 1 goalkeeper. Vedran is a confidence player, which in my opinion, is a bad trait for a goalkeeper. We need the custodian to be a rock not a nervous wreck after he makes a mistake. He needs to shake off the mistake and lead from the back. We need a big game from him again next week at the derby and the crowd won’t be kind to him. We know he has it in him, he just needs to believe in himself a bit more and be confident in his decision making.

Worst – Thwaite Injured
When Mr Underpants Thwaite went down early in the 2nd half I immediately thought “well this is what happens when you sign a 34 year old”. There is no official word on the severity of the injury and he may well be okay for next week. But it threw a spanner in the game plan and forced a substitution to bring on Hamill to partner Captain Cornthwaite. You never want to be forced to sub a defender due to injury. It’s also the reason why Hamill was on the bench in the first place. He can cover the entire back line. If Thwaite doesn’t recover, I think most fans would expect and want Aspro to slot straight in.

Best – Reira Again
Riera didn’t have the best game (along with the entire team), but he still ended up on the scoresheet thanks to another penalty. The aptly named Mariners goalkeeper Tom Glover guessed correctly but Riera slotted it under his outstretched hand. Riera has scored in every competitive game so far, that’s 6 goals in 5 games. We can’t complain about that at all. Next week is when it will really count. If he gets the service, he’ll score.

Worst – Learn the Offside Rule
The amount of times we were caught offside this game was astounding. Even our fullbacks were getting caught offside. Central Coast were playing a high line to stifle our quick breaks and it worked every single time. The team needs to learn how to beat the offside trap, or adjust the tactics accordingly. We gave the ball away countless times due to being called offside and all threat was removed in an instant.

Worst – Infinite VAR
What’s with the VAR check for every single time the ball went out? The entire stadium and players had to keep looking at the screen to wait for the little green light so play could continue after every stoppage. It became increasingly distracting and showed the worst aspect of VAR. I don’t mind the theory behind VAR, if it gives the correct decision in terms of offsides and penalties, then so be it. And we know they are checking almost everything all the time. But do we need a graphic to tell us that every single time? Can’t it just be happening in the background and the communication to the referee happening over the earpiece? Every goal, every foul, everything had “VAR CHECKING…” on the big screen and on TV. If only it actually checked Chris Beath’s performance.

Worst – #We_object_to_arbitration_in_the_match_between_Western_Sydney_and_Central_Coast_and_refereeing_errors_and_pitch_changed_the_outcome_of_the_match
We demand an investigation into the appointment of Chris Beath and his performance at a difficult time in such an important match.
We ask for an examination of the grassland that was not suitable for the Wanderers team, while Central Coast players seem to be wearing shoes that cling to the long grass, so we saw Western Sydney players fall during the game, while Mariner’s players are steady.

Worst – Out-Foxed
It’s amazing how much can change in a week of football. Last week the entire team was full of energy and zip. This week we couldn’t get out of the blocks. The Mariners dominated the midfield and didn’t let us hit our stride. Was last week’s performance purely one of emotion, adrenaline and individual ability? I questioned Foxe’s ability to prepare the team as the season wore on in last week’s ATB Podcast, I didn’t realise it would show in Round 2. Was there a lack of preparation? Did the interim coaching staff not do their homework, or are we just not giving enough credit to Paul Okon and his preparation? Foxe is new to this, I get it. But the club needs to move quickly to appoint the full time coach so they can stamp their authority and we can have some proper stability in the side.
Of course, this whole paragraph will be moot if Foxe wins the derby in Round 3.

Worst – Need More Santa
Last week Santalab was brought on in stoppage time. This week he was brought on in the 83rd minute. We had nothing in the 2nd half. It screamed for Santa to come around the 70th minute mark to run at the defence and cause trouble. 10 minutes isn’t enough for him. Riera wasn’t doing much and it seems Foxe is reluctant to take him off. Santa replaced Roly and we lost that attacking midfielder in doing so. Let’s hope next game if we are needing a goal, that Foxe puts on Santa a bit earlier. His passion and determination can spark the rest of the team. I don’t think Santa had the opportunity to do anything the last 2 games with the too few minutes he’s been given.

Best – Never Say Die
Despite losing control for large portions of the match it was pleasing to see the team never completely give up and hand the 3 points to the Mariners. Twice we had to equalise to get the points, and Central Coast will feel like they lost 2 points. That’s two games now that have been hard fought to get a result. Whilst it is a positive to see the players fight like this, it can also be concerning in the long run where we haven’t put games to bed and out of sight. It’ll be a long season if every game requires this much fight and determination to scrape the points. It does show however that the players will fight for one another. That can win you a few extra points here and there throughout the season.

Worst – Poor Attendance
To get less attendance at 5:30pm on a Saturday than we did at 6pm on a Sunday is concerning. I know people work or have the dreaded wedding during the season to attend. But we apparently have 16,000 ticketed members? Where are a third of them? Are people seriously paying hundreds of dollars every year just to hold a seat at Wanderland 2.0? If the club goes down the loyalty route, some members will have a rude awakening. The “I don’t like Spotless/Homebush” excuse is tired and not really an excuse at all. There’s a train station right there, there are parking stations right there and you can even park in surrounding suburbs as another option. Yes, the pregame atmosphere is gone. I haven’t gone to the pub pregame since the beginning of last season. I miss it but going to whichever pub people are at before a game isn’t feasible for me right now. But I still attend the match, and that is my main priority. Its really frustrating knowing we have all these fans and members who simply refuse to turn up because we are getting a new stadium built. Its the same brigade that complain every time Campbelltown is announced and they want it in Penrith. We have a team finally in Western Sydney. Stop turning into elitist self entitled fans. Turn up and support the team we all cried out for. Its going to be even more frustrating when we bring over 15,000 (hopefully) to the SFS at the derby. If people can find the time to travel and attend a match in Moore Park, they can attend one in Homebush (which should be closer to your home).
End rant.

Best – Best Start in History
At the end of the day and despite the game feeling lacklustre from the Wanderers and missing out on getting back to back wins, it is still the best start the club has ever had in the A-League with 4 points after Round 2. That’s still a positive going into the Sydney Derby in Round 3. I looked back at the opening rounds results from the past 5 seasons. They were terrible. Our 2nd best start is Season 2 (2013-14) where we we came away with 2 draws in the opening 2 games. We did go on to win 5 straight games after that, so the challenge is set now for the current squad to best that start. The players have their work cut out for them though. They need to regroup and focus on the task at hand. They need to take control of matches, take their chances and sort out silly defensive errors.

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