The Western Sydney Wanderers have missed the chance to jump into the top six, sharing the points with Melbourne City at AAMI Park.
Tate Russell’s emphatic debut goal was cancelled out by Jamie Maclaren six minutes later from the penalty spot – ensuring City finishes second at the end of the round.
Despite City dominating the match possession wise, the home side failed to create enough chances – something which almost came back to bite them when Curtis Good cleared a Simon Cox chance off the line after a calamitous error.
Filled to the brink with youth, the Wanderers came to Melbourne in need of a spark having been brought back to earth by Brisbane Roar after another derby win.
Wanderers academy product Jarrod Carluccio made just his second appearance and did not look out of place playing at left-back, while City winger Lachlan Wales also returned to the side – replacing Adrian Luna.
Making his first start since January, Wales did not shy away from throwing himself into the thick of the action in the opening ten minutes.
Unfazed by two crunching tackles – one coming inside the first minute from Nicolai Muller – the 20-year-old found himself on a Craig Noone cross in the 11th minute, to which Wales headed wide after catapulting himself forward to meet it.
Though it was a youngster at the other end who injected some life into this affair, with Tate Russell breaking his A-League duck to open the scoring in the 21st minute.
Receiving a perfect ball across the field from captain Mitchell Duke, Russell’s first touch fell to the path of Muller before being played through on the overlap and slipping the ball past Tom Glover in a passage worthy of a thousand replays.
But the ecstasy of a debut goal quickly turned into agony when Russell conceded a penalty in the 28th minute – bringing Noone down in the box moments after Daniel Lopar was forced into action to deny a deflected Nathaniel Atkinson shot – allowing Jamie Maclaren to draw his side level and smash home his 15th goal of the season.
Despite the Wanderers only recording the one attempt at the 69th minute, it was them who should have taken the lead midway through the second half.
A poor Nathaniel Atkinson pass to Curtis Good saw Simon Cox pounce and surge forward. Despite the Irishman getting a shot, albeit a poor one, away it was without enough power to roll home allowing Good to rectify the error by desperately sliding in to save the certain goal.
With another opportunity to close the gap on Sydney FC slipping away, City got going in an attack.
Josh Brillante tried his luck from distance in the 72nd minute before Noone had a header skim past the post after rising to meet an Atkinson cross in the 82nd minute.
The draw sees City remain in second while the Wanderers miss the chance to rejoin the top six, currently sitting two points outside ahead of their third Sydney derby next week.
MELBOURNE CITY 1 (Maclaren P 21′)
WESTERN SYDNEY WANDERERS 1 (Russell 30′)
Tom Glover (GK), Nathaniel Atkinson, Harrison Delbridge, Curtis Good, Scott Jamieson (C) (Scott Galloway), Markel Susaeta, Josh Brillante, Florin Berenguer, Lachlan Wales (Connor Metcalfe), Jamie Maclaren, Craig Noone
Dean Bouzanis, Scott Galloway, Denis Genreau, Ramy Najjarine, Moudi Najjar, Kerrin Stokes
Western Sydney Wanderers
Daniel Lopar (GK), Matthew Jurman, Dylan McGowan, Tass Mourdourkoutas, Tate Russell, Patrick Schwegler, Jordan O’Doherty (Nicholas Sullivan 75′) , Nicolai Muller, Simon Cox, Jarrod Carluccio (Noah Pagden 84′), Mitchell Duke (C),
Oliver Kalac, Kostandinos Grozos, Noah Pagden, Mo Adam