The Western Sydney Wanderers have celebrated their 250th A-League Men match with a point, holding the Newcastle Jets 2-2 at CommBank Stadium in an entertaining clash to close out Round 2.
Angus Thurgate’s early darting run and cut back nearly created a stunning team goal for the visitors, but a great piece of defending by young Western Sydney starlet Thomas Aquilina prevented Valentino Yuel from tapping the ball home from point-blank range.
The sluggish start for the Western Sydney Wanderers was epitomised by captain Rhys Williams sloppily hauling down Olivier Boumal inside the area, Beka Mikeltadze calmly slotting the ball home past former Real Madrid shot-stopper Tomas Mejias from the spot.
Carl Robinson’s halftime lambasting of his players immediately bore fruit as Tomer Hemed robbed Kosta Grozos of possession, before lashing the ball into the back of the net to put the Wanderers into the box seat for the first time.
The Wanderers lead did not last long though, as Valentino Yuel’s stellar game continued, providing an assist for Olivier Boumal’s first goal in Australian football to bring the sides level.
With just over 20 minutes to go, former England international Jack Rodwell nearly stamped his authority on the game almost immediately after his introduction. Twisting and turning past a myriad of Jets defenders, his brilliant mazy run led to a shooting chance, which was well repelled by Jack Duncan.
Despite a late end-to-end flurry, neither side could not find a decisive goal, as the Wanderers were forced to settle for a share of the spoils that would have seemed inconceivable during the Jets dominance in the game’s early stages.
LETHARGIC START HAS ALARM BELLS RINGING FOR WANDERERS
After holding the Sky Blues last week, the onus was on Carl Robinson’s men to back that up with a positive performance in a game they were much-fancied to prevail in.
However, their slow start contradicted this, as pundits and fans alike criticised their approach early on, clearly second-best against a Jets side who should have entered the interval in the lead.
A woeful start put the hosts under the microscope, and despite leading the game for a brief spell, the pressure on Wanderers boss Carl Robinson continues to rise.
JETS RUE MISSED CHANCES
Despite all of the Jets’ dominance, their inability to capitalise on their opportunities in the final third left them with their tails between their legs. Despite some great work down the Newcastle right from Angus Thurgate, he was a perpetrator to this, with some poor crosses into the middle that prevented the Jets from taking full advantage.
Their overall lack of ruthlessness when it matters will need to be rectified by Arthur Papas and his charges if the Jets are to become a competitive force this season.
After almost single-handedly rescuing a point for the Hunter outfit last week, Valentino Yuel further staked his claim as a force to be reckoned with in this A-League Men season. Providing the assist for Olivier Boumal’s equaliser minutes after the Wanderers gained control, his dynamic and irrepressible play going forward was on show for all to see.
Using his blistering pace often to glide past his Wanderers opponents with ease, the former Western United attacker’s brilliant performances already this season should have defences on notice.
A-League Men Round 2, CommBank Stadium
Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Bernie Ibini, 42m Tomer Hemed 49m)
Newcastle Jets 2 (Beka Mikeltadze (p) 19m, Olivier Boumal 52m)
Image Source: Western Sydney Wanderers