Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Keanu Baccus was dealt a red card during Sunday night’s season defining clash against Adelaide United, ultimately costing the side a finish within the top six.

The youngster tussled and fell to the ground with Johan Absalonsen following a challenge, and as Absalonsen returned to his feet Baccus lashed at him with a kick which struck the Dane’s inner knee.

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The VAR deemed the incident worthy of a red card and referee Chris Griffith-Jones sent Baccus to the stands in the 62nd minute when scores were gridlocked at 2-2.

From some angles the incident seemed timid and hardly worthy of a red however the bruising on Absalonsen’s leg clearly proves that contact was made and Baccus was in the wrong.

The intervention of the VAR will no doubt divide supporters once again but the fact remains that Baccus was reckless to kick his opponent given that he knows better than most just how scrutinizing the review system can be.

In Round 18 against Perth the youngster was pulled up for bringing down Joel Chianese with his arms inside the area, Sunday night’s offence was arguably even more deserving of a booking.

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It is unfair to pin the result entirely on the young star’s brief lapse in judgement however it certainly marked a turning point in the game as Adelaide actively tried to exploit the player deficit.

In an exasperated final effort to produce another goal Wanderers coach Josep Gombau switched defender Jack Clisby for Brendon Santalab meaning just three men were left at the back.

Reduced to 10 men the outfit struggled to repel Adelaide’s counter attacks and eventually succumbed to a third goal slotted away with ease by Ryan Kitto in the 80th minute.

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Gombau was left with little choice given the do-or-die circumstances worsened by the absence of Baccus who had been positioned just in front of the Wanderers backline.

“In the last 14 minutes I decided to play with three with the back and bring one extra player in front because we need this goal,” said Gombau.

“From this in one transition Adelaide scored, and game over.”

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Gombau didn’t agree that Baccus deserved the red and believed the player was simply trying to scramble back to his feet before unintentionally making contact with Absalonsen.

However the Catalan coach also stated that the decision wouldn’t excuse the fact the Wanderers had ample opportunities to avoid the must-win predicament altogether.

“This is football, when you are in this business you know this can happen,” he said post match.

“This happened to us today and that is all.”

“We have 26 more games we should win to be in the finals.”

The Wanderers under Gombau are now looking to rebuild and reassess after a turbulent and troubling season which sees them bow out early for just the second time in the club’s short history.

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Bachelor of Journalism student from the University of Wollongong, covering Western Sydney Wanderers for the 2017/18 season.