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No breakthrough as Wanderers and Mariners draw

Western Sydney Wanderers have picked up their first point of the new season, with a 0-0 draw against fellow strugglers Central Coast Mariners. It was a rather underwhelming affair in which neither side was able to take hold of the game.

It was unlikely that Popovic’s men were ever going to find their first win of the season against high-flying Perth Glory on Saturday night, and so the host of changes that were to come were likely due to fatigue from a four day turnaround from a trip across the Nullarbor — rather than suffer any hints of underperformance from what has been a struggling Western Sydney side in the early stages of the A-League season.

Popovic made nine changes in total, as Mateo Poljak and Brendan Hamill remained in the starting line-up from the weekend. Ante Covic returned between the posts while Hamill was joined by Shannon Cole, Matthew Spiranovic, and Seyi Adeleke in defence. Vitor Saba made his second start for Wanderers while Iacopo La Rocca also started. Tomi Juric and Romeo Castelen returned to the squad, starting alongside Nikita Rukavytsya in attack, who was promoted from the bench.

The Mariners could perhaps consider themselves lucky to sneak a point late against Melbourne City on the weekend, scoring two goals in the last ten minutes. Despite a poor start, Moss’ starting line-up was unchanged.

Liam Reddy was saved from embarrassment by his defenders as he failed to collect a poorly taken free-kick early on. The cross was too deep and should have been easy for Reddy to take, but the ball slipped through his arms and would have been turned in by Matthew Spiranovic but for some desperate defending by Hutchinson on the line.

The Wanderers started to gain momentum in the latter stages of the first half, and Tomi Juric had the best of a handful of late chances as Saba played him through into a one-on-one encounter with Reddy but he was alert to the situation, rushing out and palming the shot for a corner.

The second half saw an unwelcome return to a slow rhythm as chances for either side were few and far between. On occasion, enough pressure was applied to cause a scramble in the Mariners’ defence, but Reddy was on hand to clean up if called upon.

Tomi Juric had a golden opportunity to score late in second-half stoppage time after some crafty play between Mark Bridge and Castelen, before the latter hit a low pass across the top of the box. Juric was free to strike the ball, but he completely missed making contact.

The youngster was left to rue the chance as Kris Griffiths-Jones blew the final whistle a minute later with the game remaining goalless.

About the author

avatarBorn and raised in Melbourne, Bill is a student journalist at Monash University and life-time fan of the round ball game.

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