Popovic hails derby defensive for first clean sheet

-

Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic has heaped plaudits on his team’s defensive display following their 0-0 draw with a Sydney FC side, who had previously only been kept scoreless once this season.

Popovic was particularly pleased with the performance of keeper Vedran Janjetovic who made several key saves throughout the game, including an excellent tip-over in the early stages to deny Alex Wilkinson’s looping header.

“We had our first clean sheet which was so important for us,” said Popovic.

“I thought we looked very solid defensively and we stopped a team which is in very good form from really creating anything apart from a few moments where we lost the ball.

“I’m proud of the team because they performed very well and we certainly didn’t look like a team that is well below Sydney FC on the table.”

Despite the pleasure with the team’s defensive heroics, Popovic was left dumbfounded after a “crucial” first half penalty shout was waved away by referee Peter Green.

The controversial incident came after just 22 minutes when a Mitch Nichols shot appeared to strike the outstretched arm of a Sydney FC defender.

“It’s a penalty. It’s clear, and it doesn’t get any clearer than that,” said Popovic.

“If you miss the handball, I don’t understand how you could miss it but okay, how it’s not a corner is hard to understand because the deflection was so clear. It’s a tight game, a derby game, and those are the kind of moments which change matches.”

While Sydney FC coach Graham Arnold was quick to praise the Wanderers performance, he denied the idea that the visitors should have been awarded the first half penalty.

“The player had his back to it and his arm was tucked in, so I don’t think it was a penalty.

“It was a good derby, with a lot of passion and a lot of fight between the two teams, and I thought Western Sydney performed well – they made it hard for us at times.”

The Sky Blues’ boss admitted that his team were well below their usual standard, but still disappointed that the league leaders couldn’t snatch all three points.

“Our final ball let us down tonight with too many over hit and under hit passes. We’ve been fantastic at it for the first 14 rounds, but that’s football,” he said.

“I don’t think we executed well enough in the first half when we had a good 15-20 minutes’ worth of possession and good chances, but you’ve got to give the Wanderers credit because they performed to their best tonight.”

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required