Popovic: We deserved to win
Despite creating a host chances and out-playing their local rivals for most of the night, the Wanderers were held to a 1-1 draw in front of more than 19,000 fans at Pirtek Stadium.
Bernie Ibini’s stunning strike cancelled out Tomi Juric’s opener but it was a number of misses from Mark Bridge and Nikita Rukavytsya in particular that ensured the Sydney derby finished all square.
“When you have three or four one-on-ones with the goalkeeper, you struggle to get that in four or five game and we had that in 45 minutes,” a bewildered Popovic said.
“On another day could have gone in four or five nil at half-time. To perform like that in a derby…I’m not sure a derby has been as one-sided as that.
“We’re playing great football, it’s getting better and better but the players didn’t get the reward they deserved. That’s all that missing at the moment.”
In a pulsating first half, the home side could have been out of sight early on as Romeo Castelen had a shot cleared off the line by Pedj Bojic, while Rukavytsya hit the post and Bridge was only denied by a superb reflex save from Vedran Janjetovic.
It’s the third home game in a row the Wanderers have battered their opponents but they only have three points – from three straight draws – to show for it.
“The football is good to create those chances. We just need a bit of luck, need something to fall for us,” Popovic said.
“There’s no wavering in belief with me or the group. You can’t lose belief playing like that.
“I’m disappointed for them and the fans. We’ve had a lot of success over two years, going into the third year with all the changes we’ve made, for our fans to watch that they would go home very happy with their team.
“Of course we’re disappointed. We don’t have the bragging rights tonight that we deserved but we move on.”
With their participation in next month’s World Club Cup followed by their ACL defence next year, the Wanderers will face a horror schedule towards the back end of the Hyundai A-League season.
Asked if his side was given themselves too much to do at the end of the campaign to push for the finals, Popovic said: “We’re just focusing on us.
“There’s a reason why we have this schedule, because of our success. In the last three games we’ve shown we can deal with it and all that’s missing is the win. I know that will come.”
The Wanderers are in action again on Wednesday night in a grand final replay at home against fellow strugglers Brisbane Roar.