By Josh Parish

Melbourne Victory (4-2-3-1)

20. Lawrence Thomas (gk) – 5

Barely had a significant save to make, but his miscommunication with Roux left him stranded.

2. Storm Roux – 4

Disastrous, half-hearted backpass left Thomas in the lurch, on the edge of his box and helpless to prevent Meier’s inch-perfect chip. A few promising forward runs, but zero effective deliveries.

4. James Donachie – 5

Failed to track Alex Meier on several occasions that could have resulted in more damage. Limited ability on the ball, and ceded responsibility in possession to Deng.

14. Thomas Deng – 6.5

Great use of the ball under pressure, showing significant progress in his game. Unnecessary yellow card, leading with his studs midway through the first half. Went head-over-heels late in the game, landing very heavily after flinging himself at a set piece. The best-performing member of the backline.

3. Corey Brown – 4.5

The Victory whipping boy was an unpopular late inclusion ahead of Adama Traore, and an air of scepticism seemed to greet his every touch from the home crowd. Good delivery into the box that led to a goalmouth scramble in the 7th minute. Worked hard but lacked end product, often too slow to control the ball, or not able to deliver a telling cross.

8. Jakob Poulsen – 2

His second absolutely appalling display in the space of two weeks. Is the Dane unfit? Past his prime? Doesn’t seem up to the breakneck end-to-end pace of the A-League, even in the relatively cagey first half. Struggles to find teammates from really any passing range or under any notable pressure, and his much-vaunted set piece ability has so far contributed diddly squat. Must improve soon or there will be big questions asked of his signing.

6. Leigh Broxham – 5.5

Was his usual combative self in midfield, but couldn’t help Victory create chances through the middle of the park.

It’s Leigh Broxham: we know what we’re getting by now.

22. Kristijan Dobras – 4

Almost absent from proceedings. On one occasion took a quick throw straight to a Wanderers defender. Substituted after 62 minutes for Athiu.

9. Andrew Nabbout – 3

Does persistence pay off? Andrew Nabbout will hope so, after another evening of chasing lost causes, smashing low crosses vaguely in the direction of where his teammates might be, and running straight into cul-de-sacs and/or opposition defenders. Put through on goal by Kamsoba on the counter attack in the 82nd minute, but a honking first touch let him down badly and he couldn’t get a shot or a pass away. Blasted way over the crossbar moments later.

11. Ola Toivonen – 6.5

Dropped deep off the frontline and caused chaos when he got on the ball. Unfortunately, his teammates struggled to find him after the first 20 minutes or so, as the Wanderers midfield cut off the supply. Alex King was in no mood for his antics in trying to buy free kicks from aerial challenges. Brought Victory back into the game from the penalty spot, nonchalantly stroking the ball past the despairing dive of Daniel Lopar and into the bottom corner. Attempted an outrageous 40 yard free kick that sailed just wide. Not one for his career scrapbook, but the pedigree is so obviously there. Can Kurz’s gameplan really serve his strengths?

17. Elvis Kamsoba – 7

Lively and involved. Quick feet inside the box to create space for a shot that tested Lopar at his near post. Teed up Nabbout for what looked a sure-fire goal late in the piece, but his teammate fluffed his lines badly. Perhaps Victory’s best performer on a bad night.

Subs:

7. Kenny Athiu – 5

His awkward frame made things more difficult for the Wanderers defence, but as so often, a lack of finesse let him down. Agonisingly under-weighted layoff missed Kamsoba as the game ticked into injury time.

18. Migjen Basha – 7

Replacing the hapless Poulsen on the hour mark, the Albanian import made an observable impact on the contest, giving Victory structure and direction in midfield. Should surely start next week, fitness permitting.

Western Sydney Wanderers (4-3-3)
1. Daniel Lopar – 6

Not tested too often in the first half, saving twice from Kamsoba, at his near post from an acute angle, and tipping an overhit cross over the bar. No chance from the penalty.

5. Daniel Georgievski – 6.5

Rare forays forward late in the first half, to great impact. The first, an excellent early cross that invited an Alex Meier header that never came. The second, a crafty dribble down the side of the box, a check back onto his left foot to send two Victory defenders for a halftime hot dog, and a perfect cross that teed up Meier for a header seemingly easier to score than miss. Alas, his German teammate was profligate on that occasion.

4. Dylan McGowan – 5

Puzzlingly blatant handball from an Athiu header brought Victory back into the game. Long ball led to Meier’s goal, but the Victory backline should have dealt with it.

6. Matt Jurman – 7

Headed against the base of the post from a free kick in the 22nd minute. Didn’t know whether to stick or twist with Toivonen early on, but thankfully for him, Victory struggled to pick out the Swede’s feet after the first 20 minutes or so. Some nice cross-field passes with his left foot, and held firm in the last 15 minutes as the visitors absorbed waves of pressure.

29. Daniel Wilmering – 7

The youngster acquitted himself well up against the bullish Nabbout, showing the Socceroo the line and not letting himself be drawn into too many physical contests.

19. Pirmin Schwegler – 8

Pinpoint set piece delivery, particularly to pick out Jurman in the first half. Marshalled the somewhat inexperienced Wanderers midfield impressively, picking up Toivonen as he dropped deep and dictating play from the base of the three. Long range free kick whipped just wide of the top corner.

17. Keanu Baccus – 7

Broke the deadlock early in the second half, curling a scarcely believable 25 metre wonder strike into the top corner. The midfielder did brilliantly to readjust his body and line up the strike from a pass that was slightly behind his run. In short: WOOF.

His general play beforehand has showed his limitations in an advanced midfield role, but he greatly grew in confidence after his goal, and his output lifted too.

22. Nick Sullivan – 7.5

Nice one-two with Keanu Baccus in the 27th minute, but shot tamely into the arms of Thomas. Yellow card in the first half for a horrible tackle on Broxham. Unorthodox but inventive scooped ball over the top in the lead-up to Baccus’ opener. Steamed back on the counter to crowd out Nabbout, making up several metres. Energetic, positive display for a youngster still finding his feet in the professional game.

35. Mohamed Adam – 6

Quiet first half. Began the second so determined to make up for it that his first contribution was to attempted overhead kick, straight into Nabbout’s face. Cut the ball back for Baccus’ opener, before being substituted with 20 minutes to go.

14. Alexander Meier – 7.5

Netted a magnificent half-volley from well outside the area, in off the crossbar. Unfortunately, Alex King had well and truly blown his whistle for a prior foul. His subsequent efforts were promising but wasteful, having a volley on target blocked by Donachie, and directing a back-post header into the side netting with the goal at his mercy. Finally got his goal with a beautiful first-time left footed chip over Thomas after a defensive mix-up.

7. Mitch Duke – 7

Duke set the tone for the Wanderers midway through the first half with a brilliant challenge on Kamsoba on the edge of his own box, followed up by a lung-busting run forward to deliver a cross. The counter-attack came to nothing, but the captain’s sheer effort and determination was on display. His hard work paid off in the second half, putting pressure on Roux and Thomas and forcing the spill to Meier for 0-2.
Subs:

27. Kwame Yeboah – 6.5

Came on with 20 minutes to go, and provided an outlet on the counter with his pace. Limited by the Wanderers being under the pump for the last 10-15.

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Josh Parish
josh@footballnationradio.com.au