Sydney FC coach Frank Farina has not minced words on the standard of refereeing in Saturday's Sydney derby
|By JOHN GRECO
A furious Frank Farina blamed referee Kris Griffiths-Jones' decision to send off Brett Emerton for costing Sydney FC a memorable derby win over Western Sydney Wanderers on Saturday.
Alessandro Del Piero's first half goal had the Sky Blues on course for a victory over their bitter rivals until Emerton saw red for a lunging tackle on Shannon Cole 10 minutes after the break.
Griffiths-Jones had no hesitation in showing the stand-in Sydney captain a straight red card, with Cole coming back to haunt his former club soon after with a superb equaliser.
Sydney FC did well to hold on for a point with just 10-men for the last quarter of the match, but the result means they must go to Brisbane Roar on Thursday and win to assure themselves of finals football.
Asked if Emerton's dismissal cost his side the win, a seething Farina said: "Yeah, I honestly think it did.
"We were 1-0 ahead I thought we were in control right up until the red card.
"We were looking comfortable and not really in any danger. That changed it for us.
"We've shown we finish games strongly, even with 10 men, and we had a great chance at the end, [Joel] Chianese's chance was a real good one."
Emerton's red card aside, Farina was critical of a number of Griffiths-Jones' decisions.
"Some of the yellow cards for both teams tonight were soft," the Sky Blues boss said.
"In a spectacle like this, in a big game like this, I thought it was an under-par performance [from the referee].
"People want to see an even contest. For 30 minutes at the end it wasn't an even contest, but at least we managed to get a draw, so I'm happy with that."
Sydney have now received six red cards in their last five away matches and Farina acknowledges it is an area of their game they must improve immediately if they are to have any success this season and beyond.
"Whether it's down to us and ill discipline or poor refereeing decisions, it's just not good enough," Farina said of the team's disciplinary record.
Defender Lucas Neill, who missed the last two games with a calf strain, was forced off at half-time with hamstring tightness.
The Wanderers missed the chance to secure the Premiers' Plate but coach Tony Popovic could not be prouder of his team's effort.
With four first-team regulars unavailable – including captain Michael Beauchamp, who was a late withdrawal – the Wanderers overcame a half-time deficit to snatch a draw and inch closer to the minor premiership.
The only way the Wanderers can lose top spot is if Central Coast win their final two matches, while the A-League newcomers will need to fall to Newcastle in their last game next weekend.
While the result stops the club's winning run at 10 and means they have to wait to get their hands on some silverware, Popovic refused to get downbeat.
"The message we've given the players is that we've gone a step closer," Popovic said afterwards.
"We're six clear now and continuing our unbeaten run to 11 games and we move on to next week.
"We had numerous opportunities in the first half and didn't capitalise but the players stuck at it and played some good football.
"We didn't get the result but in the end the least we deserved was a point."
Popovic will be sweating on scans for marquee man Shinji Ono, who was forced from the field early in the second half with a groin strain.