Dutch defender in doubt for Glory trip

Sydney FC's impressive 3-1 win over Western Sydney came at a cost, with Jop van der Linden now in doubt for the club's meeting with leaders Perth Glory.

The import defender suffered a hamstring injury in the victory at ANZ Stadium, which was a quality response from the Sky Blues after they had gone down 3-1 at home to Wellington.

Van der Linden fell awkwardly after an attempted tackle in the 15th minute, and the Dutchman may need to be replaced against the unbeaten Glory.

Asked about van der Linden's injury, coach Steve Corica said: "I'm not 100 per-cent sure, I think it was a little bit of a hamstring. I don't know how bad it is yet; I haven't seen him, (but) there's a little bit of a twinge there."

The Sky Blues trailed to a goal from Oriol Riera but came from behind to continue their dominance in meetings with their rivals – it was their fifth derby win in a row.

Corica had needed to go into the match without van der Linden's centre-back partner Alex Wilkinson due to a virus. Wilkinson's replacement, Aaron Calver, lasted 64 minutes before he too exited the match due to cramping.

"He hasn't played for quite a while; it was only normal, to come back and with heavy conditions, to start cramping up," said Corica of Calver.

"He'll be better off for it and he'll be fine next week – Jop, probably not."

Sydney FC, who are gunning for a third consecutive Premier's Plate, face a run of four big games now bookended by trips to Perth.

In between they have festive period home games against Brisbane Roar and Central Coast, who boast just one victory between them so far this season.

Sydney FC are 17/10 to win their next game against Perth Glory, who are 6/4 with the draw 12/5.

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Coach defends derby substitution

Markus Babbel defended his decision to take off Alexander Baumjohann at a crucial time in Western Sydney's 3-1 defeat to Sydney FC.

The coach decided to take off the player who had had a big influence up to that point, when he needed to send on a substitute keeper in the derby at ANZ Stadium.

Vedran Janjetovic had been dismissed for handling the ball outside his area, leaving Babbel needing to take off an outfield player in order for debutant Danijel Nizic to take over between the uprights.

Western Sydney had been ahead at that point, but though it was widely seen by fans as too-defensive move to substitute the attack-minded Baumjohann the home side went on to ship three goals.

Speaking of his decision after the game, Babbel said: "Alex is a fantastic footballer and I feel really really sad for him because he's one of our best players.

"But in this moment, for me it was clear we need legs now and we have to defend more than to attack. And Alex is a fantastic player offensive-wise, but defensive is not his biggest strength, so I have to make that decision."

As far as the Wanderers coach is concerned, what cost his team as they slumped to a fifth-straight loss to their derby rivals was the team's frail mentality.

Babbel said it would have been easier for him to accept if the goals they conceded to the Sky Blues had been well struck from outfield play.

The fact they conceded twice after the break from set-pieces didn't sit well with him as a former defender, he admitted.

"We are not hungry in this moment; we don't see the danger in this moment," he added.

"[So] we don't have to be surprised if you lose this game, because this is a good side."

Western Sydney are 11/4 to win their next game against Adelaide, who are 10/11 with the draw 11/4.

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Sky Blues beat 10-man Wanderers

Sydney FC came from behind to win their derby clash with Western Sydney Wanderers 3-1 at ANZ Stadium.

Steve Corica's team handed their rivals a third defeat in the space of four games, with Wanderers' chances taking a major hit when keeper Vedran Janjetovic was sent off.

Playing against his former team, Janjetovic was dismissed for handling the ball outside the penalty area after he was beaten to a long ball by Adam le Fondre.

Oriol Riera had put Western Sydney ahead, with Alex Brosque levelling in first half stoppage time.

The Sky Blues went ahead before hour mark courtesy of Siem De Jong, with Jacob Tratt's bullet header adding gloss to the scoreline late on.

Western Sydney deserved their opener, which came when Spanish striker Riera turned in Alexander Baumjohann's free-kick from close range midway through the first half.

Janjetovic was then shown a straight red card and their coach Markus Babbel responded by withdrawing Baumjohann in order to be able to bring on substitute keeper Danijel Nizic.

Brosque drew the Sky Blues level in the first half of added time at the end of the first half when he reacted quickest to net from a rebound after Josh Brillante's shot came back off the post.

The visitors had already threatened twice since finding themselves with an extra men, de Jong forcing a tip-over from Nizic and le Fondre curling a shot just past the upright.

Wanderers, who have now beaten their derby rivals just once in 16 meetings, had less threat once Baumjohann went off.

They fell behind when De Jong buried the scraps from a corner at the back post, and Sydney FC secured a fifth-straight win in the derby when Tratt headed home from the far post nine minutes from time.

Sydney FC are 17/10 to win their next game against Perth Glory, who are 6/4 with the draw 12/5.

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Ziegler could miss derby

Defender Patrick Ziegler is in danger of missing Western Sydney Wanderers' derby clash with Sydney FC at ANZ Stadium.

The German centre-back played his first game of the season last weekend when Markus Babbel's side beat Central Coast 2-0.

Babbel was delighted to see the former Kaiserslautern player slot into the defence after two months out with a knee injury, but he hasn't pulled up well from his debut.

Ziegler has suffered considerable swelling and soreness around the joint since playing a full 90 minutes last Friday.

Babbel has not yet ruled him out though and will leave it up to the player to decide whether he's fit enough to play.

"We will have a look at how it is, I hope he can play on Saturday," said Babbel. "After the game it was a little bit swollen so we'll have a look.

"He is old enough and has enough experience to say, 'I can play 100 percent or not'. I hope he can play because he's very important for us."

Babbel should have attacking midfielder Roly Bonevacia available, with the Dutchman having been sidelined since the round three win away to Wellington.

Keeper Vedran Janjetovic will make his 150th A-League appearance overall and his 50th for Western Sydney against his former club.

He said: "It's a little bit special against Sydney I guess. It feels good, the milestone for myself, keep pushing and hopefully get another 150 to wrap it all up."

Wanderers have a poor record against their derby rivals, with just one win in their last 15 meetings.

Only one of their past 11 league wins, dating back to late in the 2016/17 season, has come against an opponent in the top six at the time.

Western Sydney are 5/2 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 23/20 with the draw 12/5.

Babbel reinforces need to fight

Fight and quality were on display for Western Sydney as they got back to winning ways against Central Coast, according to coach Markus Babbel.

Wanderers went into the clash with the bottom side having lost their last two games without scoring, but a superb strike just before the break from Keanu Baccus gave them a massive boost.

Jaushua Sotirio's strike in the second half wrapped up the points at Spotless Stadium, leaving Babbel well pleased with the performance and the result.

Midfielder Baccus notched his first goal for the club with a low drive past keeper Ben Kennedy from outside the penalty area.

Babbel said he'd made his players aware before the game that he was looking for a reaction after the previous week's 4-0 defeat to Melbourne Victory.

"I said this to the players during the week, 'you can fall down, this can happen but stand up – stand up and fight for your dreams, for the success,' said the coach.

"This for me today was outstanding…everyone gave everything and that's it, the good luck came on your side because you deserve it and to be fair it was a good performance."

Speaking of Baccus, who has been with the club for four years and was previously captain of the youth team, Babbel said he was improving a lot.

"(He's) one of the best players on the pitch," he added. "If he's doing the right things and listens to us he shows a top performance but it's not just today, he's shown good performances before."

Wanderers will go into next week's derby against Sydney FC boosted not just by their win over the Mariners but also following the Sky Blues' shock 3-1 home defeat to Wellington.

Western Sydney are 12/1 to win the Grand Final.

Wanderers are 11/4 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 19/20 with the draw 13/5.

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McCormack injury adds to Mariners woes

Already reeling from their worst start to an A-League season, Central Coast now face being without marquee Ross McCormack for at least another month.

Mariners coach Mike Mulvey has revealed McCormack, who is on a season-long loan from Aston Villa, needs to see a surgeon after aggravating a knee problem.

The Scottish striker has missed the past two games, including Friday's 2-0 defeat to Western Sydney Wanderers, after an awkward fall during training a fortnight ago.

The club originally said it was a minor bone bruising, but Mulvey says the problem is worse than that.

"Ross McCormack is probably out for about four to five weeks, he's tweaked his knee. He's seeing the surgeon on Monday," said the coach after the Wanderers match. "We'll work out a plan for him to get back."

The Gosford club have lost five games in a row and have just two points from the opening seven rounds.

If they lose next week against fellow strugglers Wellington Phoenix it will represent the worst start to a season by any A-League team.

Mulvey was sacked by Brisbane Roar after a poor start to the 2014/15 season, just months after he had guided them to the A-League double.

He's far from the first coach to struggle at Central Coast, who have had four men in charge since Graham Arnold left in 2013 – none of Phil Moss, Tony Walmsley or Paul Okon were a success.

Mulvey said he wasn't disappointed with the effort his side put in against Wanderers at Spotless Stadium.

"These players are giving everything they've got," he added. "There's no fear factor for us, we need to address our deficiencies which we're doing on a daily basis.

"We need a confidence builder and that comes from winning a game. It doesn't get any easier, there is no easy game in the A-League so we need to front up to Wellington next week and really give it to them."

The Mariners are 3/1 to win their next game against Wellington Phoenix, who are 10/11 with the draw 5/2.

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Baccus blast helps Wanderers claim win

A clinical finish from Keanu Baccus put Western Sydney on their way to a 2-0 win at home to bottom side Central Coast Mariners.

Baccus struck with a fizzing low shot from outside the area three minutes into added time at the end of the first half, giving Wanderers a big psychological boost.

The Mariners, who had had decent chances in the first half, weren't able to respond and slumped to their fifth consecutive defeat.

Jaushua Sotirio fired in a second goal midway through the second half for Western Sydney as they claimed the three points at Spotless Stadium, moving them into the top six.

The visitors would have felt unlucky not to be ahead when Baccus struck, having seen both Michael McGlinchey and Connor Pain denied by keeper Vedran Janjetovic.

Baccus took a good first touch to set himself up for his powerful drive beyond the dive of Ben Kennedy to put the hosts in front with virtually the last kick of the half.

Markus Babbel's side went onto secure just their second clean sheet of the campaign, helped by the presence of veteran defender Patrick Ziegler on his league debut.

Western Sydney were dominant in the second half and doubled their lead on 68 minutes. Bruce Kamau's shot from 18 yards was blocked by Kennedy but the rebound went just far enough to give Jaushua Sotirio the chance to bury a follow-up effort underneath the keeper.

Babbel acknowledged it had been a risk to put Ziegler straight into the starting line-up against the Mariners, after he'd been sidelined for more than two months.

"But the game was too important today," he said. "Patrick is a top-class player; if he's on the pitch, players around him feel more confident, feel better and for me, it was clear that he can play a top performance.

Wanderers are 13/5 to win their next game against Sydney FC, who are 19/20 with the draw 13/5.

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Ziegler to return against bottom side

German defender Patrick Ziegler will make his first league game for Western Sydney as they bid to end a two-game losing skid against Central Coast on Friday.

Ziegler played two FFA Cup games for Markus Babbel's side after arriving from Kaiserslautern, but has been on the sidelines for almost two months with a knee injury.

Babbel will bring him back against the Mariners after opting not to give the 28-year-old a run out in the club's National Youth League game last week due to the match being on a synthetic pitch.

Ziegler is short of match minutes but Western Sydney need him back after conceding six goals over their last two matches, in defeats to Newcastle Jets and Melbourne Victory.

With Babbel having described the game against defending champions Victory as "men against boys", the experience of Ziegler who played 59 games for Kaiserslautern should bring more solidity to the centre of their defence.

It's not certain he will play the full 90 minutes against the A-League's bottom side but he is expected to start.

Babbel said: "He's a top class defender, he will help us a lot because he brings out [the best] for the players around him, he is like an anchor.

"I hope he can show his performance; I know how difficult it is but we need him now and he's a top defender. I believe he will show his performance and he will help the team win three points."

Though the coach was critical of his team's showing against Victory, he felt they had done well in their previous outing against the Jets and had been unlucky to lose.

"We played a fantastic style of football and we did many, many things right, more things than wrong and we lost this game," said Babbel. "This can happen; the mentality and how we played was there."

Western Sydney are 12/1 to win the Grand Final.

Wanderers are 3/5 to win their next game against Central Coast, who are 17/4 with the draw 10/3.

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Jets pick up first victory

Last year's A-League Grand Finalists Newcastle Jets got off the mark at the fifth time of asking when they beat Western Sydney 2-0 at Spotless Stadium.

The venue certainly didn't live up to its name, with ground staff being required to help clear the surface area following a music concert.

Ernie Merrick labelled the pitch a disgrace after the Jets picked up their first victory of the campaign thanks to goals from Jason Hoffman and Ronald Vargas.

Western Sydney had most of the clear-cut opportunities but couldn't find a way past veteran keeper Glen Moss in the Jets goal.

The Jets broke the deadlock with Hoffman's close-range strike midway through the first half, and after surviving numerous close calls made sure of the points right at the end when Vargas scored from a slick counter attack in stoppage time.

The major talking point was the state of the ground, which had been inspected and cleared by Wanderers and league officials on Tuesday.

Before the game Merrick likened it to a car park and afterwards he said there had been shards of plastic as well as screws on the ground.

"The pitch was a disgrace," added the Jets coach. "I hope they didn't pay full price for the rental, I hope they got a discount of about 90 per-cent for that pitch."

Newcastle finished runners-up in the league to Sydney FC last season and lost in controversial fashion to Melbourne Victory in the Grand Final.

They had picked up just two points from their opening four matches this time around, though.

Merrick, who lost defender Daniel Georgievski with a suspected groin tear, felt the display against Wanderers was their worst of the season.

Western Sydney coach Markus Babbel also thought his team deserved more, saying: "There was over 50, 60 minutes a really good style of football on the pitch, we did many things right. We created chances but we couldn't score."

Newcastle are 14/5 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 10/11 with the draw 13/5.

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Roar rally after Riera brace

Brisbane Roar are still waiting for their first win of the season, but did well to come back from a two-goal deficit to draw 2-2 with Western Sydney.

John Aloisi's side fell behind to an Oriol Riera brace inside 17 minutes in the first half in Mudgee.

They earned their third draw of the opening four rounds when Alex Lopez scored from long range and Adam Taggart netted from the penalty spot.

Wanderers, who had got off the mark for the season in style last week when they beat Wellington 3-0 away from home, took that form into the game at Glen Willow Regional Sporting Complex.

They hit their straps early on and broke the deadlock when Riera hammered home from close range after Bruce Kamau hit the crossbar.

Kamau was also involved in their second goal, drawing a foul from Jacob Pepper in the box at the end of a surging run.

Jamie Young did well to tip Riera's spot-kick onto the post, but the Spaniard was quick to react and got his foot to the rebound to make it 2-0.

Young made several good saves in the opening half hour to keep his side in the game.

And the Roar were able to pull back a goal just before the break when Lopez fired in a powerful swerving effort for his first goal in the A-League.

The visitors equalised three minutes into the second half as Eric Bautheac won a penalty when he was brought down by Alexander Baumjohann and Taggart netted from the spot.

Brisbane were the side looking most likely to go on and win the game, going closest through Pepper's header.

But they survived a big scare at the other end when Jaushua Sotirio curled a superb strike against the post.

Brisbane are 14/1 to win the Grand Final.

The Roar are 19/10 to win their next game against Melbourne City, who are 13/10 with the draw 5/2.

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