Frustrated Wanderers accept VAR not entirely to blame
IT was all quiet in the Western Sydney changeroom. Then Brendan Hamill spoke.
The skipper told his team to keep their heads up. Stick together, trust the process and results will finally follow.
It certainly helped, but nothing could have reversed the despondency and disbelief at what had just gone down outside on the reconfigured SCG pitch.
The frustration of having conceded two goals through mistakes and failed to convert their own good chances to lose yet another Sydney derby.
Frustration compounded at the way a potential second-half comeback was doused by another VAR controversy, and evident in how goalkeeper Vedran Janjetovic kicked a dent in the dressing-room door.
"The boys were pretty devo," defender Tarek Elrich said.
"I can imagine the fans being disappointed and upset with the result, but we're the players running around for 90 minutes so you can just imagine how much it hurts us.
"It's very hard after a game to say too much, everyone's in their own little world thinking about it."
That much was clear in the way the squad took an alternative exit to avoid media interviews certain to focus on a touchy subject that's dominated headlines over the A-League's opening two weeks.
Elrich admirably took one for the team on Sunday.
"It's a derby, it's a big game, and now look what we're talking about," he said.
"But it's in our own hands - we created enough chances I feel we can take plenty of positives.
"It was just one of those games that everything seemed to go their way - the bounce of the ball, a key decision.
"I don't feel like they were better than us but they get the result. We put it behind us, learn from it and remember how much it hurts next time."
Coach Markus Babbel too chalked it up to just one of those nights, though it will bleed into next week when he serves a touchline ban in Wellington, where his new side desperately needs a three-point boost.
Babbel's post-VAR spray at the fourth official served to highlight how technicalities and communication issues can simultaneously kill and augment the game's passion.
But even after he'd been red-carded, kicked an advertising board in disgust and walked off the pitch to cheers from Wanderers supporters, confusion remained.
"A lot of people are hammering the VAR," Elrich said.
"For me it's more the people behind it in terms of getting the decision right.
"We scored a goal, they say it was offside but the ref blew a free-kick ... it created a lot of confusion.
"You've just scored, you're thinking 'we're back in this' and then you're standing around for five minutes.
"Then for Markus to show his passion and anger and get sent off. It's the heat of the moment, it's a derby, just have a word to him.
"He's our coach so we see that and it frustrates us. But we take plenty of positives, and if anything it will make us stronger.
"It's just training as hard as we can and making sure against Wellington we do what we need to win. It's still early days but you don't want to fall too far behind."
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