Popovic laments late goal

Western Sydney coach Tony Popovic says his side was “totally dominant” in the first half against the Central Coast, before fading away late in the match to concede a 90th minute goal which gave the Mariners second spot on the ladder and drops the Wanderers to third.

After falling behind in the first half but then drawing level when defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley scored a rare goal the visitors had some chances but were largely defending their own goal late in the match until the Mariners snuck home the decisive goal.

40 year-old Popovic could pin down one aspect from the second half which concerned him the most.

“it’s a tough one to analyse because in the first half we were outstanding, an excellent performance in the first half away from home.

“(We) totally controlled the game, dominated the game, it would have been a disaster if we had gone down 1-0 down and then the second half we weren’t good enough, simple as that we weren’t good enough.

“All the things that we did well in the first half we didn’t do well in the second and we kept inviting pressure and inviting pressure and they got that goal right at the end.”

Popovic continued.

“In think in the second half you could pull out ten different things that just wasn’t the usual that we do.”

The former Crystal Palace assistant coach did seem to indicate the Mariners passing range caused the Wanderers some concern.

“We got very stretched as a team, it seemed with one pass they could pretty much get through quite easily which is not really use so it’s not just one point that I have it’s as a whole as a collective our whole game in the second half wasn’t good enough to win the game.

“I felt we did enough to get a point, but we didn’t do enough in the second half to win and in the end that can happen sometimes that you concede.”

Popovic says mental fatigue ‘won’t be used as an excuse’ for the end result because the side was “totally dominant” in the first half.

Possession was one of his many concerns.

“In the last fifteen minutes I’m not sure if we kept the ball at all.

“We just kept coming back and kept coming back a lot of that was us not keeping it when we had good possession.

“In the end if you just had a look at the second half you could say yeah they (the Mainers) deserved it, but the hard part for us is to understand the big difference between the first half and second half and we really dropped off.

“In the end we would have been pleased with a point but it wasn’t to be.”

With marquee Shinji Ono only featuring in the final quarter of an hour Popovic admited the former Japanese international did not have the same impact which the Mariners replacements did.

“Unfortunately it was one of those games where he couldn’t have an impact.

“We weren’t really controlling the game for him to get a lot of touches but I’m sure it will be a lot better for the group on Tuesday which is another game we look forward too.” 

The Wanderers, who sit second in the AFC Champions League group, travel to Japan now to play Kawasaki Frontale on April 1 having beaten them 1-0 recently in Parramatta.