The Best and Worst of Wanderers vs Sydney FC (FFA Cup Semi Final 2018)

FFA Cup Semi Final vs Sydney FC 06/10/2018 Penrith Stadium
0-3 Loss

Its the #SydneyDerby a few weeks before the #SydneyDerby.

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Best – Full House
It was never in doubt but playing a game in a full house always makes the contest more special and epic. Having tickets available for $10 definitely helped to fill the stands. I was told by a club official when I entered the stadium that all seated tickets were sold and a fair number on the hills too. Amazing when you price accordingly and give a reason to people to show up. Thankfully the weather held up all Saturday, so numbers weren’t affected.

Worst – Missing Key Players
When I saw the lineup, like many, I was a little worried. Elrich partnering Hamill? Baby Baccus and Grozos as holding midfielders? Sotirio starting? We know that Vedran is still injured and Nizic would start. But that back line did not instill confidence.

Vedran has made the bench the last two FFA Cup games but he hasn’t played a match in ages. But we need him badly. We’ve been shaky at the back the last couple of months. Nizic isn’t commanding and he was, in his defence, put under a bit of pressure by his own teammates with a tonne of soft back passes that he had to quickly clear.

With an “abundance” of wingers, Sotirio still gets the gig. Lambast him all you will, but what does that say about the others vying for that position? Kamau AWOL, Fitzy on the bench with Majok. Bridge I believe is still injured. Sotirio has forced his way back into the Starting XI and ran his lungs out. He actually showed some heart. He must be doing something right at training compared to all the others to get the nod.

Best – Dominated for 50 Minutes
I was actually really surprised to us dominate that first half almost completely. We were winning everything, flashing passes across goals, testing the keeper and their defence. We controlled the ball, the midfield had time and the wingers were bombing forward. We weren’t threatened at all and anything that went past the midfield was cleaned up by the backline.

Now look at that Starting XI again, and look at theirs. We dominated and created more chances than SFC with a few players played out of position and a number of key players yet to come into the team.

But Worst – Failing to Convert
All that work, all those chances and nothing to show for it. That is the most frustrating part of it all. The ball flashed passed the goals on numerous occasions but I learned that Riera will not slide in to get a touch. He had two chances to do it but didn’t. Santa would have. Riera also should have shot early in the first half when he got into the box with the ball at his feet. Instead he opted to pass across the face. Other than that, Riera had a great game as always. At times it feels like he is our most defensive and attacking player. He plays all over the park.

Risdon’s one on one in the second half should have been a goal. It seemed harder to miss than to score that. I recall him having a bunch of chances last season too and never being able to convert them. If he wants to be an attacking fullback, he better up his shooting ability.

But creating a plethora of chances and going into the sheds 0-0 never ends well. This is not my first time watching a football match. I feel like we’ve been down this road before. You just know it’ll come back to bite you. And it did.

Worst – Conceding Soft Goals
I said it late in the first half “watch them have one chance and score”. It’s basically what happened. Second half, their first real chance and the ball is in the back of the net. Then a freekick where the ‘keeper should have done better. Topped off with a penalty given for a dive to rub salt into the wound.
SFC basically had 4 chances on goals and scored 3. Two were set pieces. Is that a positive? Can we build on this? I don’t know.

Worst – Weak Mental Strength
After all the big talk by Captain Hamill, it sure looked like the players’ heads dropped after conceding that first goal. It was an uphill battle after that. After the second goal, they were done. The only fight they showed in that second half was when Majok came in late with a two footed challenge in front of the WSW fans. He stood up for himself, Brosque got involved (as per usual) and it was on. But at that stage of the game, it all played into SFC’s hands. They could afford to waste minutes pretending to care about a brash challenge and puffed up chests. They were winning and we were losing our mental strength and the game as a whole.

Not sure why fans feel the need to throw stuff onto the pitch when the players are having a go at each other. That behaviour is pathetic and makes us look like petulant spoilt children.
Chant. Lose your shit. Abuse the ref and the opposition. Just stop throwing things whenever things aren’t going our way. Not sure what its trying to prove or achieve.

Worst – No Engine Room
WSW lost the midfield in that second half. Corica had the better half time talk, changed up his midfield and our trio folded. AB10 was dropping deep to help win the ball, Riera was dropping deep to help or defend. We shouldn’t need our two most attacking players do this. Grozos isn’t a 6 and I feel Baby Baccus distribution needs some work. We just need a grunt ball winning hardman to do get in there, win the ball and lay it off to a Grozos or AB10 to get the attack rolling. We lost cohesion and were chasing shadows. And once you lose the midfield, you lose the game.

We are definitely lacking in this department so I’m not sure what the solution is. But Babbel needs to find one, otherwise this result will become regular throughout the entire season.

Worst – Still Finding Best XI
It’s a worrying sign that two weeks out from the season start, I feel that Babbel hasn’t settled on his best XI. The midfield is always different and I’m not sure who our right winger is. Babbel needs to solve these questions, and quickly if we are to be competitive at all this season. I’m all for rotation, if it works and we don’t seem so lost and disjointed for large parts of a match. Babbel has had a full preseason with these players so he should know where everyone is at.

Injuries to a handful of players obviously didn’t help the situation this weekend.

Best – Future is Bright?
There are too many Worsts, so I want to finish on a positive.
Sure we were disjointed at times. Sure we lacked cohesion at times.
But that first half we looked good. We had players played out of position. We had two youth products as the holding midfielders. We had two others on the bench. Babbel has played a bunch of them during preseason, such as Tokich (who I believe was injured) and Roberts.
This is what we wanted isn’t it? As Josh mentioned on the latest episode, he is expecting another transition season where Babbel finds the best players to keep, including a bunch of youth.

As hard as it is, we need to take some positives out of this match. Otherwise we’re always going to be miserable. The positives are: we were good for the first 50 or so minutes. We had a handful of Starting XI out due to injury, SFC had their best XI (except perhaps Da Silva). Babbel had to start from scratch with this team, removing the stench of The Pretender, whereas Corica merely had to continue what Arnie had going. We are at two different points of our journeys.
Let’s hope Babbel has a plan to reach the destination of success.

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