Thursday, December 27, 2012
Wanderers primed for clash with Victory
By Justin Chadwick
Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic will have a welcome headache at the selection table when he decides on his starting line-up for Tuesday night's A-League clash with Melbourne Victory at Parramatta Stadium.Popovic's decision to make six changes to his starting line-up against Perth Glory on Thursday night paid handsome dividends, with the Wanderers holding on for a vital 1-1 draw away from home.Star Japanese recruit Shinji Ono, Youssouf Hersi and German defender Jerome Polenz were rested altogether, while in-form striker Mark Bridge and Dino Kresinger started on the bench.Suspended midfielder Adam D'Apuzzo rounded out the mass changes.The Wanderers were on track to snare all three points following Labinot Haliti's beautiful curling effort in the 38th minute, but Glory substitute Nick Ward thundered home a powerful volley in the 87th minute to ensure a share of the spoils.The result kept Western Sydney firmly entrenched in the top-four, but their title credentials will be put to the test over the next nine days with games against Victory and the ladder-leading Mariners.Popovic was proud of the effort his charges displayed against the Glory, and said he was yet to decide who to bring back into the starting line-up against the Victory.And the former Socceroos defender said his decision to rest so many players - less than a week after the club's 6-1 demolition of Adelaide - was a necessary one given the searing Perth heat and the short break between games."We've just had our third consecutive six-day turnaround, and we need all our players as fresh as possible," Popovic said."The players that played today, they deserved an opportunity as well."The Wanderers have now snared three wins and a draw from their past four games, but Popovic said it was too early to get carried away, especially with games against the Victory and Mariners to come."I'm not sure where we stand in the title race. For us they're two games we're looking forward to," he said."We're not halfway through the season yet. There's a long way to go. We'll be judged after 27 games. That's when your ladder position is important."