‘Our grand final’: Wanderers primed for City showdown

Joanna Guelas |

Milos Ninkovic is aiming to go out on a high as he nears the end of his time with the Wanderers.
Milos Ninkovic is aiming to go out on a high as he nears the end of his time with the Wanderers.

If Western Sydney Wanderers want to confirm their place in the A-League Men finals, they will need to beat the side that handed them a 7-0 thrashing last time they met.

The sixth-placed Wanderers host Melbourne City for their last home game of the regular season with their finals hopes very much alive – but not settled.

City sit one point adrift of the Wanderers in seventh spot in the race for a finals place.

While Marko Rudan’s side head into the match licking their wounds after last weekend’s 2-1 derby loss to Sydney FC, Aurelio Vidmar’s troops walk into Saturday’s clash buoyed by an 8-0 thrashing of Perth Glory.

Rudan failed to front his post-match press conference after his side’s AAMI Park monstering by City in March and has overseen a patchy run of results since, with wins against Perth and Macarthur FC followed by defeats at the hands of Brisbane Roar and Sydney.

Melbourne City players celebrate against the Wanderers.
Melbourne City enjoyed a convincing win the last time they faced Western Sydney. (Morgan Hancock/AAP PHOTOS)

Playmaker Milos Ninkovic says Wanderers; players are well aware of the importance of the City showdown.

Should the Wanderers progress past the regular season, it will bring their first back-to-back finals appearances since 2016/17.

“We understand that basically, on Saturday, it’s our grand final,” Ninkovic said.

“(The 7-0 loss in March) wasn’t a great night for us, but on Saturday it’s going to be a totally different game.

“We are playing at home. We know if we win we’re going to definitely make top six.

“They’re a good squad but if we give 100 per cent, each of us, then we can win.”

Western Sydney will be without Socceroos forward Brandon Borrello (hamstring) and centre-back Tom Beadling (quad).

Both failed to finish last Saturday’s Sydney derby, with Rudan ruling the two out for the season and a potential finals appearance.

The City clash could also be Ninkovic’s last home game after the Serbian product announced in January he would hang up his boots at the end of the Wanderers’ season.

“I’m not thinking about if this is my last game or not,” he said.

“We all understand that we have to win to make the top six.

“Whoever makes top six has a very good chance to win the grand final because this season has been really close, like never before.”