Wanderers warning after draw

EXCLUSIVE: Western Sydney Wanderers midfielder Mateo Poljak was stung after his side’s draw with Adelaide United on Sunday, saying it was a warning for the reigning Premiers.

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On a sunny day at CentreBet Stadium in Sydney’s west, Wanderers took an early lead courtesy of Reds defender Nigel Boogaard’s own goal.

But Adelaide’s new-found swagger under Spanish coach Josep Gombau saw them hit back in the second half to finish the game 1-1.

Poljak cut a forlorn figure after the game, saying the Wanderers were a shadow of the Premiership winning force of last season.

“Last season went perfect for us but if you want to stay at the top and we do, we must improve. We must switch on. We must change something if you look at today’s game,” the 24-year-old Croatian midfielder told au.fourfourtwo.com.

“I’m sure we can but we can’t be happy with our performance today. The result was a draw but it’s more about how we play.

“We want to win every single game but we won’t with this type of performance."

Wanderers coach Tony Popovic made a large number of substitutions during the friendly, which may’ve stymied the side’s flow.

And new striker Brendon Santalab was missing due to illness on the day of the game.

But Poljak wasn’t looking for any excuses.

“I didn’t feel the heat and in fact we’ve just come back from Asia where we had even tougher conditions. So it’s not an excuse," he said.

“Credit to them [Adelaide] they kept the ball but again most of that came from our mistakes.”

For their part, the Reds look a different side to last season. 

Their improvement underlines the fact that no team can stand still in the A-League as new coach Gombau brings in a smarter, more effective possession-based game.

“They play out from the back and with a lot of rotations in the middle third made it harder for us,” added the central midfielder, who recently extended his contract with the Wanderers for another two years.

“Definitely good signs for Adelaide but it was a warning for us that in these next couple of weeks we have to improve and be better to keep up with them

“This is just one game but you can see we weren’t good enough. But I’m sure other teams have improved as well so we must improve too." 

One positive for the Wanderers was the crowd of around 7000. 

It was similar to the figure local rugby league club Penrith Panthers attract  for their NRL games. And with the RBB in fine voice, it made for another strong advert for football in Sydney's heartland. 

Coming after the Wanderers announced this week they had sold out memberships for next season and given the opposition was from interstate, it again showed the red and black's strong support across the greater west

What’s more the CentreBet stadium surface –  ripped up a year ago and replaced with a new one – is as good as the best in the A-League, comparing favourably with AAMI Park. 

“The pitch was beautiful. Really nice compared to our training pitch it’s much better so it was really good to play here,” added Poljak.

“But we weren’t good enough and as you can see they [Adelaide] were dominating. We were leading 1-0 but we must be much better.

“We must improve in this couple of weeks [before the season]. I’m a bit disappointed with myself and the team.”

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