Sydney FC's two-year derby drought will continue for at least another few weeks after a tense, controversial 1-1 draw with the Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday.
Not since December 2018 have the Sky Blues beaten their cross-town rivals. Much like their last few meetings, they were probably the better team but couldn't will themselves over the line, with their winless run against the Wanderers now stretching to five matches.
Andrew Redmayne spills the ball into Tate Russell in the lead-up to Western Sydney’s equaliser.Credit:Getty
A highly contentious penalty given away by long-time foe James Troisi put the A-League champions in the lead midway through a pulsating second half at Stadium Australia in front of 14,402 fans.
But Troisi, playing his first derby since switching to the Wanderers, squared things up shortly afterwards to punish a rare error from fringe Socceroo Andrew Redmayne and set up an exciting crescendo to the match.
Carl Robinson's Wanderers finished the stronger side but were unable to find a winner and will be much more satisfied with the end result than Sydney, who had not played since a 2-1 win over Wellington Phoenix a fortnight ago.
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.
Kosta Barbarouses sends Daniel Margush the wrong way to give Sydney the lead.Credit:Getty
After an hour of tight, cagey football, the Sky Blues broke the deadlock when Milos Ninkovic clattered into Troisi inside the penalty area 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 appeared to argue that he was merely standing his ground, and he may well have been hard done by.
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 guilt-edged chances to put Western Sydney in front.
Despite a ban on singing and chanting by health authorities to limit any chance of COVID-19 spreading in the grandstands, both sets of supporters were vocal at times, but it was the Western Sydney's RBB who would have certainly gone home happier.
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