Kwame Yeboah then iced the contest for the hosts in the 88th minute, finishing off a rapid counter-attack sparked by Ibini to seal their third triumph under Carl Robinson and first at home this season.
Gestede threatened to score a header with his first touch of the ball but instead cost his team dearly with his moment of madness, leaving them at the foot of the table with just one win from their first six games.
“I’ll speak to him but I think he knows. In the box you don’t want to be making decisions like that. He’s an experienced player and it’s cost us,” Brebner said.
Brebner, the club’s rookie manager, is already fighting for his job and had put his players on notice after a shocking 5-2 defeat to Brisbane Roar on the weekend.
He said he got kind of the reaction he wanted – until Gestede’s penalty changed the game – and admitted he was “concerned” when asked about how much longer he could last in the position if Victory’s current formline continued.
“I’m concerned, certainly, with what’s happened,” he said. “I’ve been in a tough position before as a player at this football club and I’m in a tough position now as the head coach of this football club. But I will do everything in my power to turn it around and make sure that playing group starts winning games.”
All does not appear well inside the Victory dressing room, with Socceroo Kruse visibly furious with Brebner’s decision to take him off, lashing out on the bench, although the coach played down the issue post-match.
“Robbie’s always upset when he comes off but it was only two games ago that Robbie played, I think it was 78 minutes and then missed two weeks of football where he didn’t train at all, played against Brisbane after one training session,” he said. “I cannot lose Robbie Kruse through me keeping him on an extra 10-15 minutes.”
Ibini came away unscathed from his run-in with Gestede but he was not the only player to cop a high boot to the face – Victory winger Marco Rojas was taken to hospital with facial lacerations after an ugly first-half clash with Dorrans, Western Sydney’s stand-in skipper.
Dorrans went for a loose ball which bounced high but caught Rojas with his studs, forcing him off the pitch a bloodied mess after just 21 minutes.
“He looks pretty bad,” Brebner said. “He’ll head to the hospital now and get it looked at, his eye socket and his nose. It’s just one of those things, it was an unfortunate challenge. Because it’s structurally, facial, we don’t know where he’s at with it.”
Dorrans showed no malicious intent in pursuing a ball that was there to be won, but was rightly cautioned and will now miss Saturday’s clash with Melbourne City due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
The veteran midfielder crafted Western Sydney’s best chance of the first half eight minutes afterwards when he spotted Mark Natta in the box with a smart diagonal ball, but the young defender’s header was wide of the mark.
Victory started poorly and while they improved as the half wore on, it wasn’t by much, with Jacob Butterfield and Birkan Kirdar both forcing Daniel Margush into regulation saves – while, at the other end, Max Crocombe had to get low to deny Keanu Baccus just before the break.
The Wanderers returned without James Troisi and Bruce Kamau, who reported hamstring and groin tightness respectively and weren’t risked for the second half, with Jordan O’Doherty and Ibini sent on.
“I thought we ground out a win against a very good team,” Robinson said. “It was a challenging game for various reasons. It was a very physical game, good quality at times. The first goal was always going to be crucial – if they score it they have something to hang onto, if we score it the game comes on our terms. I think that’s what happened.”
Vince is a sports reporter for The Sydney Morning Herald.