Sydney FC will have to wait once again for their first win at the Commbank Stadium in the derby as they were held by their cross city rivals Western Sydney Wanderers.
Both goalkeepers were the stars of the match, equal to everything each side’s attacks could throw at them.
Andrew Redmayne had to be on his toes to prevent an early opportunity for Petratos, coming out to meet his fellow Socceroo and knock the ball away for a corner after Hemed’s header beat the Sydney defence.
Buhagiar was the closest to opening the scoring however, meeting Kamsoba’s cross with a deft header that Tomas Mejias did very well to palm away. The rebound was contested by Le Fondre, but pressure from Aquilina saw his acrobatic effort fly over the bar.
Ninkovic then gave the ball away allowing Wanderers to spring forward through Petratos, who forced another good save from Redmayne, low to his left to tip the ball around the post.
In the second half, Mejias continued his good form, flying across his goal to deny a shot from distance from Le Fondre.
Max Burgess almost made an immediate impact off the bench when the ball sat up for him to strike towards goal, and Mejias was relieved to see the ball fly past his right hand post.
Former England international Jack Rodwell almost broke the deadlock himself with a vicious shot from 25 yards, forcing a remarkable save from Redmayne.
ROBINSON’S MUCH IMPROVED DEFENCE HOLD FIRM
After utilising a back-five for much of last year, Robinson has switched to a back-four with the arrivals of Williams, Koutroumbis and Traore.
As identified following the Wanderers’ FFA Cup tie with Broadmeadow Magic, Thomas Aquilina has been deployed as an inverted full-back and that proved to be a source of creativity going forwards too, producing a cross that Ibini should have done better with to direct goalwards.
Williams and Koutroumbis in particular were excellent in minimising the service to Le Fondre and kept Sydney FC’s star striker quiet all night.
RODWELL MAKES AN IMPACT OFF THE BENCH
There were no signs of rust when Rodwell was introduced off the bench despite being starved of regular football over the last couple of years.
He had two sights of goal, first a shot from distance that stung the palms of Redmayne, and second with a flash opportunity from the resulting corner that he was unable to direct past the Sydney ‘keeper.
NINKOVIC CONTINUES TO SHINE FOR SYDNEY FC
Now 36-years-old, Ninkovic admitted himself that he was slowing down a bit in a post-match TV interview.
Nevertheless, the Serbian international was Sydney’s brightest player once again, effortlessly gliding across the grass and finding space, bringing in Joel King on the overlap or driving at the Wanderers’ defence.
With minimal high-profile additions to Steve Corica’s squad, he’ll have to continue producing classy displays weekly to be able to help his side challenge for finals football.
A-League Men Round One, GMHBA Stadium
Western Sydney Wanderers 0
Sydney FC 0