There’s no place like home

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - - RACING - TOM SMITHIES BANKWEST STA­DIUM

THE West is back – and so is the derby.

The Wan­der­ers claimed first blood of the sea­son after de­feat­ing Syd­ney FC at Bankwest Sta­dium by a sin­gle goal last night. Mitch Duke’s first half strike was enough to set­tle a throb­bing, pul­sat­ing en­counter and earn Markus Babbel’s side just a fifth derby win in their his­tory.


A third goal of the sea­son for Western Syd­ney’s cap­tain con­firmed the feel­ing that Duke has a knack of be­ing in the right place at the right time. In this in­stance it was to meet a deft cross from Daniel Ge­orgievski with a thump­ing header to open the scor­ing on 19 min­utes.

Pity Syd­ney’s makeshift left­back Paulo Re­tre, though, whose ill-ad­vised and ill-ex­e­cuted flick handed Western Syd­ney pos­ses­sion in the most vul­ner­a­ble of ar­eas and al­lowed them to score.

“It’s dif­fi­cult to take but I’m proud of the boys – we cre­ated chances but the goals weren’t go­ing in,” said Syd­ney coach Steve Cor­ica.

LOPAR’S SAV­ING GRACE Sev­eral sharp stops from the Wan­der­ers goal­keeper sug­gested again that he is a fine ac­qui­si­tion, even if his goal led a charmed life at times.

Mi­los Ninkovic and Adam Le Fon­dre were both de­nied, the lat­ter also some­how shot wide when clean through, and an­other Lopar save scooped the ball up on or be­hind the line from Le Fon­dre’s header. The ref­eree said it hadn’t crossed the line and the VAR couldn’t over­turn that call — nor the ref­eree’s de­nial of a penalty for Keanu Bac­chus’s al­leged hand­ball.

“Of course we had luck in many sit­u­a­tions, but it’s a learn­ing process and ev­ery win helps,” Babbel said.


From the ca­coph­ony in the stands to thun­der­ing tack­les on the turf, this was a Syd­ney derby to serve as a mar­ket­ing tool for the A-League. The

RBB filled their safe stand­ing zone and un­furled the chants that used to rock the old Par­ra­matta Sta­dium, and The Cove re­sponded in kind.

“The sta­dium was great, as were the fans, it was a top derby,” said Cor­ica. “There were tack­les fly­ing, apart from the re­sult it was a great night.”


Alex Baumjo­hann looked like a man de­ter­mined to own the oc­ca­sion but Mi­los Ninkovic ac­tu­ally played like it. Booed in­ces­santly, the Ger­man raced in pur­suit of the ball but if any­thing the ball sought out the Serb, whose dis­tri­bu­tion all night was mas­terly. His was the re­verse pass from which Le Fon­dre should have scored, and his was the au­da­cious scoop that beat Lopar but came back off the bar.


Only twice in 22 A-League der­bies had the Wan­der­ers beaten their cross­c­ity ri­vals and fin­ished the game ahead of them on the lad­der.

So to claim the first derby of the sea­son – just the Wan­der­ers’ sec­ond such vic­tory in n al­most six years, in­cred­i­bly – was sweet enough. . But to go above e Syd­ney at the top p was even greater r de­light for the e home fans.

“The sup­port- ers helped us a lot, , when you’re strug­gling you need that,” Babbel said.

“It’s im­por­tant t for this club that t we all come back k to­gether.”

Mitchell Duke of the Wan­der­ers cel­e­brates his win­ner with Daniel Ge­orgievski dur­ing last night’s derby with Syd­ney FC and (below) Wan­der­ers fans. Pic­tures: James Gour­ley, Getty

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