Western Sydney Wanderers coach Tony Popovic said Melbourne Victory defender Sam Gallagher’s dismissal hurt his side in their 2-0 loss.
Gallagher was given his marching orders in just the 16th minute of their A-League clash in Parramatta, after dragging down Dino Kresinger on the edge of the penalty box.
The Wanderers were the dominant side thereafter but failed to convert a host of chances and were made to pay by Ange Postecoglou’s men.
An own goal from Michael Beauchamp right on half-time gave the visitors a 1-0 lead at the break before Archie Thompson stung the competition newcomers against the run of play on the hour.
“It’s frustrating really because we started the game so well and it was almost as if the worst thing that happened to us was their player getting sent off,” Popovic said.
“I felt the players seemed a little stressed and a little bit nervous having the extra player and we kind of forced things a little bit too often, which was a shame because we were very pleased with the start of the game.
“As we showed last week (against Perth Glory) it’s difficult to play against 10 players and the goal just before half-time really hurt us.
“Of course it was a deflection but it gave them something to hold on to and with the pace they have on the break they’re always dangerous.”
Popovic praised his players’ commitment but lamented a lack of killer instinct in front of goal.
“We probably huffed and puffed a bit today without really creating too much, which is maybe a disappointment from our point of view,” he said.
“We did very well I thought up until the box but then we got a little lost with what we should do next but that’s a lesson for us, it’s something to learn and we’ll certainly learn from this experience.
“Overall, we were pleased with how we moved the ball, it was just in the final third I thought we got anxious and really forced things when we didn’t have to.
“And we came up against a very good side who had that one chance on the break and they punished us, and that’s credit to them, they’ve got some quality players.
“There’s heads down in the dressing room right now but come Monday we’ll pick them up again.”
The coach defended Beauchamp after the skipper let in the own goal and was responsible for the pass that led to Melbourne’s second goal.
“That happens. He’s been brilliant for us, he’s been a great leader on and off the field and he’s been outstanding in every game he’s played,” Popovic said.
“The deflection came off him and it wasn’t the best ball he played when they got the second and that happens.”