Western Sydney boss Tony Popovic felt his side was denied a clear penalty in the Wanderers' 1-1 draw with Melbourne City on Friday night.
Despite dominating for large periods at a rainy Pirtek Stadium, the Wanderers were forced to settle for a point after a Harry Novillo rocket cancelled out Yojiro Takahagi’s early free-kick.
But the home side could have snatched all three points late on when a shot appeared to strike the arm of City defender Kew Jaliens in the box, only for referee Jarred Gillett to wave away appeals for a penalty.
“It [Jaliens’ arm] is in an unnatural position. If that’s a natural position I’d like someone to explain to me how it is,” Popovic said when asked about the incident.
“The officials are well and truly close enough in that situation to make that decision. But he’s made it, we can’t change it but it’s just disappointing.
“I don’t want to harp on that for being the reason we didn’t win because you have to score the penalty. In the end it was a game we should have won.”
The Wanderers certainly created the better chances throughout but were either guilty of wasteful finishing or found City gloveman Tando Velaphi too hard to beat.
Asked why he felt his side didn’t win, Popovic said: “Some good goalkeeping, last-ditch tackles, chances missed.
“You can see the way we’re trying to evolve our game through midfield we’ve pretty much dominated a side that’s won three straight.
"We were not playing a team that’s struggling or low on confidence. The first half was fantastic to watch, the only thing that wasn’t nice to see was it was 1-1 and not a three-goal margin to us.”
While the Wanderers were boosted by the return from injury of Mark Bridge and Mateo Poljak following a month out, winger Nikita Rukavytsya lasted just 30 minutes before he was forced off with a hamstring injury.
He’ll have scans on the injury on Saturday but Popovic says he’s almost certainly out of the side’s crucial AFC Champions League clash with FC Seoul on Tuesday night.
The Wanderers boss also praised the performance of teenage centre-back Jonathan Aspropotamitis, who has had an extended run in the side due to their horror injury toll.
“We’ve thrown him in the deep end. He doesn’t have A-League fitness but he has composure,” Popovic said.
“When was the last time he would have played four games in 10 days at this level and in these conditions?
“He’s dealt with [Andy] Keogh in Perth, he’s now dealt with another good player in [Josh] Kennedy and the boys done very well.”comments