Western Sydney Wanderers coach Carl Robinson has hailed his team’s character after they secured a 2-2 come-from-behind derby draw against new rivals Macarthur FC to stretch their unbeaten run to five matches.
The Wanderers turned in a poor first half at Campbelltown Stadium to be 1-0 down and on the back foot.
But a stirring second-half comeback was highlighted by an extraordinary goal from Graham Dorrans before Simon Cox ensured the visitors took home a share of the spoils.
Remarkably the Wanderers are yet to concede a goal from open play after six matches, with both of Macarthur’s goals on Saturday evening coming from corners.
“I give the guys credit because we defended for our lives and some last-ditch tackles and defensive blocks were excellent,” Robinson said.
“Having said that we conceded from two set-pieces so we need to rectify that. If we can tidy that up, we are not a bad team.
“Great character (from the team), we were 1-0 down and 2-1 down and still trying to win it at the end of the game so I’m really pleased with them.”
Dorrans’ goal just after half-time is undoubtedly an early contender for goal of the season.
The Scottish midfielder chipped opposition goalkeeper Adam Federici from near the halfway line, despite running at full speed and having initially picked up the ball close to his own penalty area.
“I would take a little tap-in to be honest, but that was a wonderful goal – a highlight reel goal,” said Robinson about Dorrans long-range strike.
Simon Cox’s 71st minute equaliser also involved a touch of showbiz with Keanu Bacchus providing the assist with a backheel flick.
Robinson says there is further cause for optimism with “arguably five starting players” absent, most of whom are close to returning.
English import Jordon Mutch and former Socceroo Mitch Duke are currently in hotel quarantine while German attacker Nicolai Muller is looking to overcome his hamstring injury.
The result leaves the Wanderers three points off the summit, with Macarthur a further point adrift of their new western Sydney rivals.
The Wanderers comeback was a blow for A-League new boys Macarthur who seemed on track for their first home win at their fourth attempt.
Aleksandar Jovanovic netted a textbook looping header and only the narrowest of offside calls robbed Matt Derbyshire of a goal which would have had Macarthur two goals to the good at the break.
“I thought we were strong for the first 60, 70 minutes but then it became (like) basketball,” said Macarthur coach Ante Milicic.
“It was an entertaining game and in the end it could have gone either way, but we need to do better for longer periods.”