Sanction survival could be the change of luck Wanderers need

Western Sydney Wanderers are hoping Scott Neville's lucky break leads to another and their stuttering defence finally clicks into gear against Central Coast Mariners.

Scott Neville

Scott Neville, left, in action for Western Sydney Wanderers against Newcastle Jets Source: Getty Images

Right-back Neville faced sanction from Football Federation Australia, during the week, for making an offensive gesture to the crowd after the Wanderers grabbed a late winner in their round two game against Adelaide United.

Neville made a submission in response to being cited, for a breach of the code of conduct, and after it was accepted he was remorseful and apologetic to have escaped without suspension - instead being reprimanded and fined $1000.

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"I got a bit carried away," Neville told The World Game.

"I'd never done anything like that before and I certainly won't be doing it again. It wasn't something I planned, it was just the heat of the moment. It had been a pretty heated game as well."

Had Neville been suspended for a match, it would have taken the last remaining part of Western Sydney's back four from last season out of the equation for Saturday night's clash with the Mariners at Spotless Stadium.

Centre-backs Nikolai Topor-Stanley and Alberto and left-back Scott Jamieson are all gone from the back four the Wanderers fielded on grand final day against the Reds, having left the club.

Andreu is gone from the holding midfield pair from that day as well, while Dimas is still at the club.

Coach Tony Popovic has made changes to the defensive line-up through the first three rounds as he tries to find the best combination.



While their defence was solid in general play against Newcastle Jets last Sunday, they conceded two goals from free-kicks to allow the opposition to come from two goals to secure an unlikely 2-2 draw.

The Wanderers have conceded seven goals in the first three rounds and Popovic is sinking every ounce of his enormous experience, as an international defender himself, into getting their defence right.

"I'm sure we're not where 'Popa' wants us to be, but he's pushing us to the max and that's what we want," Neville said.

"He's a real hands-on coach and even when Nikolai, 'Jamo' and the others were here he still had a very close involvement with the defensive work at training, because that's his art and his craft.

"Popa's probably been even more hands-on recently and his main point has been that as a team we need to stick to our patterns of play and our structures and the rewards will come."


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3 min read
Published 29 October 2016 at 10:50am
By Greg Prichard