The Best and Worst of Wanderers vs Wellington Phoenix (Rd 7 rescheduled)

A-League Round 7 (rescheduled) vs Wellington Phoenix – 11/02/2018 ANZ Stadium
4-0 win

Welcome to this week’s Best and Worst where we finally catch up with the rest of the league and no longer have a game in hand for 3 months.

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Note: I haven’t had a chance to rewatch the game and I was in row 2 behind the goals with a flag obstructing my view for half the game. I think I only saw the first goal “live” and not from the screen.

Best – Solid Lineup
On paper it was a strong lineup. Ikonomidis gets a start after his 45 minute appearance last week. The rest remained the same. Gombau has settled on this back 4 mostly and has kept Lustica in the midfield where he belongs. Form reports, I’m not sure he had a great game but it was hard for me to make that judgement from where I was standing. Interesting to note that Baccus and Herd were not selected at all and it seems in recent games they’ve only been selected due to necessity. Make of that what you will.

Worst – Non Existent Equality
So it looks like only males get scanned with the metal detector whilst their female companions are waved through. And even wearing a relatively slim t-shirt doesn’t stop the pat down involving the security guards hands going all the way up into your armpits. Such a high risk match at 7pm on a Sunday night against the Phoenix. What a joke. My wife texted one of her friends who works for the police force asking them why there are so many cops and riot squads at WSW games, even for these kinds of games where there is no away support. The answer was basically “all Wanderers games are deemed high risk.”

When shit like this is reported on, no wonder the NSW Police continue to pocket overtime every WSW home game. Absolute farce if we had a proper governing body that wasn’t so spineless in regards to the media and authorities in this country, this whole thing would be condemned. Outsiders call us conspiracy theorists and claim we have chips on our shoulders, but when the profiling (either racially or otherwise) is so blatant that they aren’t even hiding it anymore, are we really just crying wolf?

Best – Riera, Again
Hold the bets! Maybe Riera vs Gombau in a Tapas Match is NOT going ahead at Wrestlemania? Riera starts again and scores, again. And again, it was a strong header as he was back-peddling. I have no idea how he does it but his forehead should be encased in bronze (but better than that C.Ronaldo attempt). This guy is doing what he is paid to do. Score goals. He has hit a bit of a good patch in recent weeks so let’s hope it continues in the next couple of games against 1st and 2nd place. He played 90 minutes again and dropped behind Santa for that last 10 minutes, linking up well and providing some half assists and the secondary assist for Sotirio’s goal.
It is imperative that Gombau retains Riera for next season.

Best – Set Piece Goals
It does’t happen often, but its now 2 in 2 weeks where we have scored directly from a corner. This time it was Thwaite that rose above his marker and powered the ball into the back of the net. With all the tall players we’ve had this season (and in the past) in red and black its a wonder why we don’t score more goals from corners or similar.

Best – Ikonomidis
What a great signing so far. The kid is quality. Of course he is, he is signed for Lazio (yes, he’s been loaned out but that is normal practice from big European clubs), and he has been and around the Socceroos the last couple of years. He got his first start which is great to see. In the past we’d have to wait 2 months before that happened. Gombau explained in the post match press conference that Chris has been playing every week with the non-selected Lazio players every week in recent months, hence why his fitness levels were fine to start.

It was his persistence that led to the first goal as he fought off 2 defenders and the ball popped out for Risdon’s first time cross to Riera’s head. He also had a goal bound shot cleared off the line. He dazzled the opposition with his runs and it paid off with a great goal after a one-two with Bridge opened it up and his first time strike gave the keeper no chance. It was said to me when he scored “this is basically what we expected from Cejudo.” Yep, and you’d think at a fraction of the price. A winger that assists and scores and gets behind the defence or takes them on successfully. What more could you want?
Oh and deservedly he got the Man of the Match.

Best – The Jaush Strikes Back
I was worried that Gombau was going to substitute Ikonomidis for Sotirio but thankfully Bridge was pulled off so we had a pacey winger running at the defence for the last portion of the match. I still don’t know how he scored.
1. Santa was unlucky he didn’t score as he shielded his marker and hit a rocket
2. Why was Sotirio having a picnic in the box with no Nix player within miles of him?
3. His tame shot somehow wasn’t stopped dead by Italiano and it dribbled in for one of the comedic goals I’ve seen – up there with Sotirio’s Arse Goal.
They all count, so good on him. He had a job to do the past 2 weeks and no one can fault him for that.

Worst – FFA Scheduling Part 1 = Poor Turnout
Nix were scheduled to face Perth on Saturday at 5:30pm. This got moved because we had to play our catchup game with them. So instead of just replacing that timeslot they moved our game to 7pm on a Sunday. Who is running this league? The FFA or Foxsports? Its so obvious that the reason it was moved to 7pm was so there was football in prime time 3 nights in a row. Why couldn’t it be played on Saturday or Sunday around 5pm? Well, that would have clashed with the W-League semi finals I guess. The stats came out and only 31,000 watched it on TV. On top of the 7,000 that was in attendance. These schedules are killing our game and interest in it. Every 2nd person on Twitter was stating they weren’t going to the game. Because 7pm on a Sunday is a joke. People have families. People have to wake up early on Monday morning to go to work. I’ve complained all season that the scheduling this year has been extremely poor and detrimental to not only home crowds but away travellers.

Best – Still Breaking Records
Something the Wanderers are good at, is breaking records. Even their own. This was our largest A-League win since that infamous 6-1 vs Adelaide all the way back in January 2013.
We also had our most ever shots on goal with 33 in total, and 11 on target. Only 4 went in though which is not the greatest strike rate overall.
Another positive is we scored 3 goals in the 2nd half. WE SCORED IN THE 2ND HALF. That is something to celebrate in itself. Previously apparently we’ve only scored something like 3 goals in the 2nd half all season. Another thing to note, we didn’t see any fitness issues this game.

But what can really take from this match? We beat last place and second last place in the past 2 games. That should be expected not something to get carried away with. We weren’t tested at all against Nix. It might all come crashing down in a few days time when Jets come for a visit.

Worst – FFA Scheduling Part 2 = Short Turnaround
And in true FFA fashion, we had a questionable time slot for our rescheduled game and now play high flying Jets within 5 days. Jets on the other hand have had 2 weeks off due to the split round. You can’t make this stuff up. At least its better than us playing within 48 hours like we had to back in 2014/15. Still, one wonders how the team can back up and mentally prepare for a much tougher match against Newcastle.

Friday night though. Which means any Novocastrian wanting to travel down to watch their team will have a hard time doing so. What should be a cracking atmosphere, will be lessened due to yet another fail of a fixture list. And after that, the derby on a Sunday night! It gets better and better.

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