Last season’s Grand Finalists stare at each other from opposite ends of the table as Round 8 comes to an end.
Wellington’s shock win at Coopers Stadium against Adelaide United sees Perth Glory sit in eleventh, while Sydney FC returns to the top after handing Western United its third consecutive loss.
Despite being down a Johnny Warren medallist due to a fever, Adam Le Fondre and co kicked on in what head coach Steve Corica believes was the side’s best defensive performance.
“It wasn’t our best performance with the ball, but I think it was our best performance defensively I think a clean sheet is very important,” he said.
“This game was about defence today and stopping them from scoring, which we did really well.
“We had a big trip last week to Perth and another trip down here this week, so I think the boys looked a little bit flat but full credit to them they worked extremely hard kept a clean sheet defensively.
“It’s nice to be on top of the table but obviously a long way to go, we’re just more pleased with getting three-or-four wins in a row and that’s great for the boys and their confidence.”
Meanwhile it was more-or-less a “cut and paste job” from the last few weeks for Western United, according to boss Mark Rudan.
The home side had 22 shots to eight but only recorded two on target in contrast to Sydney’s six.
Western United remains in fifth on the table but has not scored in its last three matches, with Rudan identifying his side’s lack of intensity as the most disappointing part of the game.
“I wasn’t happy with the lack of intensity, especially after McGowan went down, I thought that’s just when things turned around, they just lifted and we were second to everything as well,” Rudan said.
“It’s not normal that I sit here and talk about the opposition but there was one moment in the second half where we broke away and there were six-or-seven blue shirts hounding one of our players to try and win the ball back.
“They’re the champs for a reason and that action tells you a lot about that football club and what they’re about.
“There were nine blocked shots to zero in the game, so it tells you how desperate they were in their box as well.
“It’s something we need to look at, assess and if they’re the benchmark, which I think they are, we have a long way to go.”