April 04, 2015 11:32:47 UK
Western Sydney Wanderers inability to kill off teams continues to threaten to lead to double disappointment this season as they were held 1-1 at home by Melbourne City.
Wanderers deservedly took the lead at Pirtek Stadium through a superb curling free-kick from Japanese import Yojiro Takahagi.
But they squandered too many chances and when Harry Novillo equalised it left Tony Popovic’s side with just three wins from their 24 A-League games this term.
Having finished first and second in their first two campaigns, Wanderers will have to fight to avoid the wooden spoon as they are a point clear of Newcastle Jets who have a game in hand.
Lack of A-League wins also deprives them of the confidence boosts they need ahead of their crucial Asian Champions League matches.
They face a match that could decide whether they progress from Group H when they host FC Seoul on Tuesday. Wanderers are 34.00 to win the Asian Champions League.
Western Sydney had seen several chances go begging before they opened the scoring in the 20th minute, after Nikita Rukavytsya’s speedy run towards goal was ended by Kew Jaliens’ cynical foul just outside the box.
Takahagi’s delivery from the free-kick was exquisite and left keeper Tando Velaphi rooted to the spot as he found the top corner.
Six minutes before the break City, chasing every point in their Finals Series quest, levelled when winger Novillo let fly from 25 yards out with a screamer that dipped just over keeper Dean Bouzanis and skimmed the underside of the crossbar.
The home side were to waste a number of other clear chances, none better than Tomi Juric’s opportunity just before the interval.
Velaphi failed to clear the ball properly and it went to the Socceroo, with the keeper left stranded. Juric steadied himself before firing a shot that spun wide of the far post.
City coach John van ‘t Schip said: “It’s not too much about how we played, it’s about the character and fighting and a little bit of luck sometimes.
“We’re showing we’re a team that can also fight and get back into a game after going behind. In this period of the season that’s very important.”
City are 2.50 to win their next match against Wellington Phoenix, who are 2.50 with the draw 3.40.
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