Wanderers and Adelaide share the spoils on a Wednesday night

by Paul Green
Hyundai A-League – Season 13 – 2017/2018 – Round 15

7:50pm, Wednesday 10 January, 2018 – Sydney Olympic Stadium, Homebush, NSW

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 1 (Jack Clisby 52′)
drew with
Adelaide United FC 1 (Apostolos Stamatelopoulos 86′)

Western Sydney Wanderers continued their recent form revival when holding the strong Adelaide United to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday night in a match they might have hoped to get more from.

Absences affected both sides, with Olyroos calls taking away three of the younger Wanderers’ players and injuries to senior men putting limitations on the Reds’ chosen squad.

The Wanderers defended well, but for the most part it was the ineffectual finishing by the Adelaide forwards that allowed both sides to remain scoreless at the break.

The match finished 1-1 after two players scored their first ever A.League goal, one on his 90th appearance, journeyman defender, Jack Clisby, for the home side and the other at only his fourth outing, Adelaide rookie Apostolos Stamatelopoulos.

Both goals were well-taken and there’s no doubt the two scorers will remember them for a long time, though for widely different reasons.

Clisby has been in and out of the side all season and has had a chequered career in a number of defensive positions at clubs such as Perth Glory and Melbourne City.

The Wanderers have called on him to fill in a few times lately and he’s shown adaptability as well as determination.

To see the left-sided player arrive at the far post to steer in a firm low cross from the right by Rolieny Bonevacia, after the Wanderers had sprung the Adelaide offside trap brilliantly, was sheer joy for the RBB fans behind the goal who shared their delight with the Wanderers’ substitutes warming up just in front of them and who celebrated with their elated team mate.

The Wanderers’ defence was solid and their goalkeeper, Vedran Janjetovic, once again put in a superb effort, denying Adelaide any sniff of a goal until very late in proceedings.

When the equaliser came, the Wanderers had already cleared their bench with coach Josep Gombau electing to bring on tyro Lachlan Scott in place of Chris Herd, just over an hour into the game and who the coach later explained, had already received a yellow card.

Then Gombau took off Steven Lustica who’d impressed down the right flank, especially early in the game, citing tiredness, bringing on Brendon Santalab to add more fire-power and then sent on Brenan Hamill in place of Roly Bonevacia.

Obviously with a game played only a few days earlier in Brisbane and another due in Wellington the Spaniard was mindful of fatigue and the need for recovery in his weakened squad.

Having said that, however, eyebrows were raised about the changes which might have disturbed the pattern established earlier in the match to the team’s detriment.

Oriol Riera had looked sharp at times and Mark Bridge got in a number of decent shots, but neither had scored as they did in the previous two matches so either one of them might have been expected to make way for the veteran substitute Santalab.

Adelaide had kept their powder dry, so to speak, only making two changes midway throught the second period, sending on the speedy Taylor Regan to liven things up on the left flank, instead of Ben Warland, having already relieved the out-of-luck striker Papa Babacar Diawara by sending on a more creative player in Mark Ochieng. Papa had taken his share of punishment from an uncompromising Wanderers’ defence and needed treatment on two occasions.

Adelaide coach, Marco Kurz, knowing his team was far from out of it, merely lacking that extra fire-power needed to break the deadlock still had the luxury of one more player on his bench as the Wanderers failed to extend their lead and began to sit back and absorb the Reds’ pressure.

Kurz gave his number 25, 18 year-old Apostolos Stamatelopoulos, whose name has only two fewer letters than his squad number, a chance to make a name for himself.

The lanky youngster didn’t waste his chance as he only entered the fray at the 84th minute mark.

He was handily placed to lash the ball into the centre of the net just two minutes after entering the scene, capitalising on a ball crossed from deep on the left by Isaias and cut back from well beyond the far post by Ryan Strain into a goalmouth where the previously vigilant home team defence had dropped their concentration to allow the new man enough time to deliver the deserved equaliser.

Adelaide coach Kurz later magnanimously declared that on balance a draw was a fair outcome, though many might think the Reds deserved more.

The taxing schedule of the holiday season A.League matches hasn’t done any of the teams any favours, especially when it coincides with the departure of under-23 players to China for the AFC Under-23 championships.

Both sides will be without players again on the weekend, but while Wanderers have announced the signing of former Adelaide United star Carrusca, not wanted, apparently, by Melbourne City, and who will travel to Wellington on Saturday night, Adelaide may well have their most potent players, Johan Absolonsen and Daniel Adlung, back from injury for their key home match against Sydney FC on Sunday evening.

Wanderers, on the other hand have both captain Robbie Cornthwaite and Chris Herd out suspended on an accumulation of yellow cards.

Match details

Crowd: 10,771

Western Sydney Wanderers FC: 20 Vedran Janjetovic (gk); 3 Jack Clisby 33 Michael Thwaite, 18 Robert Cornthwaite (c), 24 Raul Llorente; 15 Kearyn Baccus, 8 Roly Bonevacia (11 Brendon Santalab 73); 25 Chris Herd (23 Lachlan Scott 63); 9 Oriol Riera, 19 Mark Bridge, 7 Steven Lustica (5 Brendan Hamill 78)
Subs not used: 40 NIcholas Suman (rgk), 34 Kostandinos Grozos

Yellow cards: Robert Cornthwaite 37, Mark Bridge 49, Chris Herd 55, Lachlan Scott 85
Coach: Josep Gombau

Adelaide United FC: 1 Daniel Margush (gk); 22 Ersan Gulum, 4 Ben Warland (5 Taylor Regan 72), 23 Jordan Elsey; 2 Michael Marrone, 29 Ryan Strain; 24 Jordan O’Doherty (25 Apostolos Stamatelopoulos 84), 8 Isaias (c); 7 Ryan Kitto, 9 Papa Babacar Diawara (12 Mark Ochieng 62), 17 Nikola Mileusnic
Subs not used: 30 Isaac Richards (rgk), 18 Lachlan Brook

Yellow cards: Taylor Regan 90+3
Coach: Marco Kurz

Points and ratings

Referee: Shaun Evans 9/10
Assistants: Owen Goldrick and Greg Taylor; Fourth Official: Ben Abraham

Match: 7/10
Pitch 8/10

Weather: Cool and dry

Player points

3. Jordan Elsey (AU)
2. Vedran Janjetovic (WSW)
1. Ryan Kitto (AU)