An all A-League Men encounter at ‘The Palace’ saw the Western Sydney Wanderers host Adelaide United as both sides continued their pre-season preparations in the Australia Cup Round of 16.
The home side established dominance early by scoring through new signing Marcus Antonsson in the second minute, and would keep that pace up throughout the first half.
Despite having plenty of opportunities to double the advantage, the Wanderers had to wait until the 38th minute, when Brandon Borrello would add his name to the scoresheet, with Antonsson bagging a brace in first-half stoppage time to give the Wanderers a 3-0 lead.
Post-game, Dylan Pierias was full of praise for the Swedish striker.
“Ever since he’s come here, he’s got a great goal record, and you can just see the quality in training, and now you’ve seen it today on the pitch,” Pierias said.
“His ability to just turn and whack a ball, his finishing is elite, so really happy to have him here.”
The new look strike partnership of Antonsson and Borrello looked deadly throughout the first half, and if how they performed against a close to full-strength Adelaide line-up is any indication, defences in the A-League Men could be in for a tough season against the Red and Black.
“I think we have a very versatile attack, you know, even the boys that come on and stuff, we can basically play any of our players anywhere,” Pierias said.
“We’ve got hold up play, we’ve got finishing, crossing, I think it’s going to be a bit scary for other defenders out there.”
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Despite conceding three goals in the first half, Adelaide United coach Carl Veart opted against any changes to start the second half, and some Milos Ninkovic magic would exploit a fragile Adelaide defence to add a fourth goal, which would see Veart go to the bench to try and spark a comeback from his side.
The additions of Lachlan Barr and Ethan Alagich would be met by a brace for Borrello, dashing any slim chances of an Adelaide comeback at Marconi Stadium, as the home side would take a 5-0 lead.
Zach Clough would score a lone consolation goal for Adelaide to make it 5-1 in a night to forget for the visitors, and a goal Pierias said Marko Rudan would not be happy with.
“Obviously you can’t be too disappointed with a 5-1 win, but we strive for high standards,” Pierias said.
“Maybe that goal was a bit sloppy that we gave them, but the boss, I don’t think he’d be too happy about that, but it is what it is.”
The Wanderers now turn attention to the quarter-finals of the Australia Cup, and they will find out their opponents after the three remaining Round of 16 games conclude.
For Pierias and the rest of the squad, the mentality looking ahead to any possible opponent is “we’ll take whoever is in front of us.”
“The other big team is Melbourne City, and if we got them, I think we’d be happy.
“That’s the type of mentality we have at this club. We’ll try and beat whoever is in front of us.”