Hyundai A-League - 2012/2013 - Season 8

Pure technique, pure class:
Wanderers in a world of their own
By Daniel Paperny

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 14
6:15pm, Tuesday 1 January, 2013
at Paramatta Stadium

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2
(Sinji Ono 41', 78')
defeated
Melbourne Victory FC 1
(Spase Dilevski 71')



(Hersi on the run)

A Shinji Ono masterclass proved to be the difference in a Wanderers side that clinched its third consecutive home win with a 2-1 victory at Parramatta Stadium against Melbourne Victory.

Tony Popovic’s men have significantly improved since the 2-0 loss to the Blues on November 24, lining up in a 4-2-3-1 formation against a sturdy Melbourne Victory side. With the Wanderers committing 18 fouls to Victory’s 9, Angle Postecoglu’s were unable to break down a resilient Wanderers defence, and the match was ultimately decided on clinical finishing and team cohesion. Seeking vengeance in front of a record home crowd of 13,659, the Reds showcased a solid display that will put them in good stead for Sunday night’s game against the Central Coast Mariners.

Melbourne Victory exhibited a tidy, possession-based passing game but their rhythm was immediately disrupted. On 8 minutes, Victory midfielder and key playmaker, Gui Finkler, was hauled off with a severe anterior cruciate ligament injury that will see him sidelined for up to 12 months. With Finkler off, Postecoglu made an interesting tactical switch, changing from 4-3-3 to a fluid 4-2-2-2 formation spearheaded by Marcos Flores and new substitute Andrew Nabbout. Despite Melbourne looking promising on the ball – determined to play it out from the back – the Blues struggled to break down Western Sydney in the final third, with several clear-cut chances going begging.

Shinji Ono was in a world of his own. On 41 minutes, Ono displayed exceptional technique to get on the end of a Topor-Stanley header, flick it up on his first touch and then volley it down, through the legs of Victory captain Adrian Leijer, for a smooth finish beyond keeper Nathan Coe. Commenting on the Wanderer’s first goal, SMH football journalist Sebastian Hassett said the Japanese playmaker was a real asset to the A-League. “Shinji Ono has come to life in the past month and is now shining as brightly as anyone else. What a splendid goal – pure technique”.

The interesting tactical battle was between Youssouf Hersi and Adama Traore. With the Reds pressing high and fast, Hersi, Mark Bridge and Shinji Ono ensured that the Blues were kept on their toes when attempting to play the ball out from the back. Popovic’s stringent focus on ball retention proved to be an unsettling factor yet, in spite of this, Traore looked majestic on the ball. With his surging runs and link-up play, Traore was reminiscent of a 2007-08 Ashley Cole at his prime, and this made his battle with Hersi all the more compelling. Aided by the runs of Jerome Polenz, Hersi would stretch play and create an overload on Victory’s left flank. Interestingly, however, full-back Shannon Cole was more cautious than usual and refrained from the attacking bursts that are so characteristic of his play down the right.

This match was always going to be a fascinating tactical display. Leading up to the game, football analyst Vitor Sobral said that “the Wanderers' defensive organisation has been very good lately, [it would be] great to see how Victory solve the problems [Western Sydney] will set them”. SBS football correspondent Ned Zelic, however, praised Victory’s resilient approach towards possession. “[It has been] impressive this season how Melbourne Victory have tried to play the first ball forward immediately once they regain possession,” he affirmed.

After an hour into the game, this tactical battle between two, well-drilled sides manifested in quick, attacking play from Bridge and Hersi who looked to threaten the Victory goal. On 67 minutes, an excellent slide-rule pass from La Rocca found Hersi accelerating past the Blues defenders towards an open goal. Wrong-footing keeper Nathan Coe, the galloping Hersi managed a tame shot at a tight angle but this was saved by Traore, sliding in to clear the ball to safety.

Marco Rojas and Archie Thompson, two wide players who had been critical for Victory in the November 24 game, were both kept at bay during the match. On 39 minutes, Rojas had a promising run, sprinting through 3 Western Sydney players and then laying the ball off to Nabbout in the penalty box, but the opportunity was wasted. Victory were unable to take their chance once again on 52 minutes. A backheel from Victory’s Billy Celeski to Flores, saw an excellent passing move where the ball was spread wide-left before Traore crossed the ball in low, resulting in a mis-kick by Thompson who sent the ball sky high. A few minutes later, Traore sounded the alarm once more, with a curling shot that was saved by Ante Covic on 55 minutes. Postecoglu’s side needed to inject a bit of the free-flowing, counter-attacking football that was unconventionally absent from his team. Unsurprisingly, Spase Dilevski’s goal on 72 minutes came against the run of play.

Ono’s second goal on the 78th minute demonstrated the fight and resilience of this in-form Wanderers side. Having received a knock earlier in the half, Shinji powered through to execute a deftly placed finish from the edge of the box that capped off an impressive performance on this night of tackles, injuries and frustration. Departing to a standing ovation and choruses of “We Love This City! We Love This Team!” the former Japanese international left the field on 84 minutes, beaming as he was replaced by striker Labinot Holiti. In the post-match comments, coach Tony Popovic maintained that Ono was an important player for the team and was confident that the midfielder could continue to fire on all cylinders.

“[Ono] is a special player and he's been a special player for this football club since he first arrived," Tony Popovic said. “We've seen from the first moment he got here the talent he has, it just took time for him to get his match fitness to a level where he can do that for longer periods.”

Despite their efforts to pile on the pressure until the final whistle, Victory’s poor decision-making cost them in this match and the injury to Finkler will pose serious implications for the remaining season. With the Wanderers looking to build on their five-game unbeaten run, they face the league leaders at Parramatta Stadium this weekend. Sunday’s match against the Mariners could make all the difference.



2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 14
6:15pm, Tuesday 1 January, 2013
at Paramatta Stadium

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2
(Sinji Ono 41', 78')
defeated
Melbourne Victory FC 1
(Spase Dilevski 71')

    Crowd: 13,659

    MATCH STATS:

    Western Sydney Wanderers FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Ante Covic (gk); 18. Iacopo La Rocca, 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 5. Michael Beauchamp, 2. Shannon Cole; 8. Matteo Poljak (23. Jason Triforo +'80), , 6. Jerome Polenz; 19. Mark Bridge, 21. Shinji Ono (7. Labinot Haliti +'84), 17. Youssouf Hersi; 9. Dino Kresinger (13. Joey Gibbs +'75)

    Substitutes not used: 20. Jerrad Tyson (rgk)

    Coach: Tony Popovic

    Yellow Cards: Dino Kresinger '27, Youssouf Hersi '32, Shannon Cole '46, Michael Beauchamp '82', Labinot Haliti '89
    Red Cards: Nil

    Melbourne Victory FC :
    Player listing:
    39. Nathan Coe (gk); 3. Adama Traore, 24. Nicolas Ansell, 23. Adrian Leijer, 2. Matthew Foschini; 14. Billy Celeski (6. Leigh Broxham +'70), 7. Gui Finkler (26. Andrew Nabbout +'9), 8. Jonathan Bru (21. Spase Dilevski +'70); 10. Archie Thompson, 9. Marcos Flores, 11. Marco Rojas

    Substitutes not used: 1. Tando Telaphi (rgk)

    Coach: Ange Postecoglou

    Yellow Cards: Adama Traore '20, Matthew Foschini '86, Spase Dilevski '9'
    Red Cards: Nil


    Referee: Lucien Laverdure
    Assistant referee: Scott Edeling, Sarah Ho; Fourth official: Kris Griffith-Jones

    BOTN Player Points:
    3. Shinji Ono (WSW)
    2. Adama Traore (MV)
    1. Youssouf Hersi (WSW)

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 9/10

    Match report, ratings and photos: By Daniel Paperny


(Shinji Ono intercepts a pass)

(Traore looking for options)

Disclaimer: The content of this report is the responsibility of the writer. Stats are either as recorded by the writer at the game, or as supplied by FFA, or a mixture - no responsibility can be taken for their compete accuracy although we do strive for that. Any photos used here are as attributed.

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