Babbel at a loss with luckless Wanderers
Western Sydney Wanderers head coach Markus Babbel has labelled his side’s Hyundai A-League form as ‘frustrating’ in light of their 2-2 draw with Brisbane Roar on Friday night.
The Wanderers were within seconds of grabbing their first win in nine games, before Vedran Janjetovic inexplicably played at a ball which was destined for a goal-kick.
In accidentally touching the ball, Brisbane received a corner at the death which they slotted home when Adam Taggart rose highest amongst the pack.
READ: Driven and dangerous Yeboah promises relief to Western Sydney's grim January
RE-LIVE: Taggart clinches remarkable late draw as Wanderers crumble again
STATS PREVIEW: Why Phoenix have a mountain to climb in crucial top-six clash with City
Babbel appeared exasperated with his side’s recent trend of surrendering leads, admitting it’s become an often occurrence.
“It’s frustrating because this is not the first time, this has happened a lot of times this season,” said Babbel.
“We’ve dominated, we’ve created, we were up, but we lose the games.
“Today it feels like we lost this game, but it’s experience because you saw a lot of young players on the pitch, and we keep working.”
Friday night's draw comes against the backdrop of a midweek loss against Melbourne City, where Babbel’s side appeared to be cruising at 3-2 before Keanu Baccus got himself sent off in the second half.
That changed the game as Western Sydney would concede two goals in the last ten minutes and fall 4-3 at AAMI Park.
Four days before that loss, the Wanderers had pulled a goal back against Adelaide United and appeared to be mounting a comeback at 1-1.
However, a 66th minute strike from Craig Goodwin gave the Reds a lead they would hold onto, the game ending 2-1.
Babbel reflected on these results, citing his team’s inability to cope with the busy January schedule.
“It’s every week the same. I think the first time we played a good style of football, deserved the lead, had everything under control,” said Babbel.
“We couldn’t create many chances, we weren’t 100% in the game, and then after 70-75 minutes, I saw the boys got really, really tired.
“This is the biggest problem we have — 90-95% of my team have never played 10 games in a row, three games in a week.
“You saw the battery was empty and then you start to do mistakes, you can’t stay in the tactical discipline, and then you come under pressure.
“For me it was clear: If we couldn’t score the third goal…what happened would happen.”
Davies: Barnett thought I was ‘drunk’
Brisbane Roar interim coach Darren Davies had more reasons than his counterpart to be upbeat after his side stole a draw from the jaws of defeat.
Taggart’s 95th-minute header gave Brisbane a deserved point in a game where they rallied from two goals down to salvage a point.
Davies noted the performance of 17-year-old Jay Barnett, who came on in the 82nd minute for his first ever Hyundai A-League game.
“Fantastic, yet another one of our youth products has gotten a debut this evening,” said Davies. “And he had a positive influence.
“When he came on, I went ‘Go on and enjoy it.'
"I think he was looking at me as if I were drunk when I told him to get in the box for the corner because there was no one behind him.
“He was like ‘What, me?’ But, yeah, he was good and he’ll be a good player.”
Davies did not only reserve praise for Barnett, though.
The interim coach spoke highly of his side’s character following their comeback, and believes the result was a just reward for their work.
“I think first half we were disappointed to be 2-0 down, I don’t think it was a 2-0 game in the first half,” said Davies.
“But we made some poor decisions in defence…so we spoke about that at half-time, (and in) the second half I think we were the better team.
“We were gaining momentum the longer and longer the game was going on, we scored a goal that was ruled offside, we had another chance where Tags (Adam Taggart) is pulled in the box and flashes one wide of the post, and then positive substitutes (created) positive influence from the squad.
“So disappointed to be 2-0 down at half-time but good value for the point.”