Western Sydney wanders up the ladder
Western Sydney Wanderers move up to third place in the A-League, with a 1-1 draw over Perth Glory on Thursday.PT0M0S 620 349
WESTERN SYDNEY coach Tony Popovic will have a welcome headache at the selection table when he decides on his starting line-up for the match against Melbourne Victory at Parramatta Stadium on Tuesday night.
Popovic's decision to make six changes to his starting line-up against Perth Glory on Thursday night paid dividends, with the Wanderers holding on for a vital 1-1 draw away from home.
Shinji Ono, Youssouf Hersi and German defender Jerome Polenz were rested, while in-form striker Mark Bridge and Dino Kresinger started on the bench.
Suspended midfielder Adam D'Apuzzo rounded out the 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 tested over the next nine days with games against Victory and the ladder-leading Mariners.
Popovic was proud of his players' effort 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 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.''
Meanwhile, Perth Glory defender Michael Thwaite is facing a stint on the sidelines after injuring his calf on Thursday night.
Thwaite felt a pop in his right calf while preparing to jump for a header in the 77th minute. He was on crutches after the game, and was due to undergo scans on Friday.