Carl Robinson’s Wanderers finished the stronger side but were unable to find a winner and will be much more satisfied with the result than Sydney. The Sky Blues had not played since a 2-1 win over Wellington Phoenix a fortnight ago – which, coach Steve Corica said, was precisely why they dropped off late, as they also did against the Phoenix.
“It’s because we haven’t been playing regularly,” he said.
“I knew this was going to happen … it’s the way it is at the moment with COVID but we just want to play regularly so we can get our match fitness going and get on a roll. I know it’ll come very soon, and we’ll be playing every three days and probably complaining that we’re playing too regularly.
“We got a point out of it but with the chances we had, we probably deserved three.”
The hosts started strongly, opening the match with a flurry of early chances that tested the reflexes of Wanderers custodian Daniel Margush. They were just millimetres away from opening the scoring in the 30th minute when Trent Buhagiar rattled the corner of the woodwork from close range.
After an hour of tight, cagey football, the Sky Blues broke the deadlock when Milos Ninkovic clattered into Troisi inside the penalty area as he moved to receive a one-two pass from Paulo Retre.
Referee Alex King whistled straight away, with replays showing Troisi had moved back slightly to block Ninkovic’s path.
Troisi told Fox Sports post-match he was merely standing his ground.
“What else am I meant to do? In all fairness he’s looked for it and well within his rights to do that. I think it’s the wrong decision,” he said.
Both coaches rather predictably had contrasting views of the decision – Corica said it was “definitely” the right call while Robinson suggested VAR should have overturned it.
“I don’t think it’s a penalty,” Robinson said.
“I think once it’s given … there’s the opportunity to re-look at it again because it’s a key moment. Is it a mistake? In my eyes, yes. That’s a very, very harsh penalty, which obviously we had to deal with and accept.”
Kosta Barbarouses slotted home the penalty – his first Sydney derby goal and his first in any competitions for more than 1100 minutes of football across all competitionssince March last year.
But Redmayne’s error gifted the Wanderers an equaliser just five minutes later.
Graham Dorrans tried to spot the diagonal run of wing-back Tate Russell but his pass was too close to Redmayne, who came out to collect the ball only to spill it into Russell’s legs, before Troisi pounced on the loose ball and swept it home into an open net.
The injection of Bernie Ibini off the bench gave the Wanderers added impetus, with the former Sydney FC winger and teammate Thomas Aquilina spurning gilt-edged chances to put Western Sydney in front.
Aquilina was playing in just his second A-League match and Robinson said he was “exceptional” on both occasions.
“The only disappointing thing for Tommy is he could have scored and should have scored. But if my wing-backs are getting chances, it’s great,” Robinson said.
“[Sydney] are the best team, they’ve won the league the last two years. They’re the team that everyone wants to beat. It’s a good marker for us, early on in the season. As the game grew I think we were the stronger team.”
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.