Tony Popovic: Not all negative for Wanderers

 

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic admitted he was disappointed with his side’s 1-1 draw against Wellington but insisted there was a lot to like about the Wanderers’ performance on Sunday at Pirtek Stadium.

The hosts hit the front in the 15th minute thanks to a powerful Jerome Polenz strike but fell away in the final hour of the competitive clash to share the points at home.

“We’re sitting here disappointed but there were some good signs there, it’s early in the year and we’ve got to build on that,” Popovic said.

“Players are always disappointed when they don’t win a game, but it’s not all doom and gloom.

“We’ve just got to pick ourselves up and prepare ourselves for a great derby game that’s coming up [against Sydney FC].

“It was very pleasing the first 20 to 25 minutes and we played some great football, so we were pleased and we showed some progression in certain areas of our game.

“We probably are a little disappointed we didn’t kill off the game at that point when we were on top.

“We fell away after that and let them back into the game which is disappointing and in the end they’ve got some good players going forward and we got punished.”

Asked what went wrong in the final hour, Popovic replied: “We’ll have to assess that and have a look but I think we just dropped off a little bit.

“We felt at 1-0 up that it would just happen, which is not really like us and when they scored we seemed to go again so we’ve got to find that balance and get that balance right.

“We showed what we can do at the start of the game, it’s now about making sure we can do that for longer periods.”

Popovic admitted the loss of midfield general Aaron Mooy in the seventh minute after hitting his head on the ground in a clumsy Manny Muscat challenge didn’t help his side’s cause.

“Possibly it did have an effect. It shouldn’t really but maybe that disrupted us a little and put us off their game and they got back in the game,” he said.

Mooy looked dazed and confused as he was helped off the field by a trainer but Popovic said the Englishman was in good spirits after the game.

“I just briefly spoke to him at half-time and he was smiling and happy so for me that’s a good sign that he’s okay but the medical staff will have a look at him and assess him,” he said.

Popovic added of referee Jarred Gillett’s decision not to award Brendon Santalab a penalty in the 85th minute after tangling with Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante: “When I looked at it I thought he could have given it but he didn’t and we can’t change that.”

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