Popovic: Wanderers’ defeat won’t derail season

Tony Popovic labelled it the worst 90 minutes of their season but says Western Sydney Wanderers season won’t be derailed by Sunday’s capitulation against Wellington.

The Wanderers missed the chance to go back to the top of the Hyundai A-League after they were stunned 5-2 at home by a rampant Phoenix.

MATCH REPORT: Powell fires Phoenix to big win over Wanderers

Without Spanish trio Alberto, Dimas (both suspended) and Andreu (injured), the Red and Black struggled to play with their usual verve and were undone by a Blake Powell-inspired Wellington.

“Overall, probably as a unit, as a collective, it was our worst 90 in terms of how we defended,” a perplexed Popovic said afterwards.

“I haven’t been able to say that this year in most of our matches but we got punished today.

“Maybe in the first half at times we didn’t control it as well as we like but we still created numerous opportunities,” the Wanderers boss added.

“We might not have had that element down pat today but the chances we’ve created were as good as any when Andreu, Dimas and Alberto have been on the field with us.

“But we didn’t take ours, they were clinical with theirs and that’s the story of it.”

Tony Popovic

The Wanderers had no answer to Powell’s finishing, with the ex-Sydney FC attacker scoring four times – including a first-half hat-trick.

There was a late fightback as Mitch Nichols scored a long-range stunner while Mark Bridge got his name on the scoresheet to reduce the deficit to 4-2 late on.

But things got worse for the home side in the last minute as Jonathan Aspropotamitis was shown a red card which led to Michael McGlinchey converting a penalty to complete the rout.

With Aspropotamitis joining Alberto unavailable for next weekend’s Sydney derby, Popovic has just six days to come up with a solution at centre-back.

“That’s a challenge for us… we’ll solve it and work it out this week,” Popovic said.

“We have to accept today wasn’t our best, defensively we had a tough night.

“This one game isn’t going to derail our season. We have to accept it, we’re still in a very healthy position and we have to move on.

“Sydney FC is always a special game. We’ve performed very well twice without getting a result, we get another chance now.”