Sydney FC substitute Shane Smeltz has stolen the A-League's 11th Sydney derby with a 90th-minute winner to deny Western Sydney 2-1.

In front of a record 19,627 crowd at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday night, Smeltz ensured the Sky Blues remained undefeated in six derbies by cancelling out Dario Vidosic's equaliser that followed Jacques Faty's opener.

After being on the losing end for so long, it was a match that should have belonged to the Wanderers. They knew it too, because the on-pitch nerves were palpable, the back four jittery.

That aside, Tony Popovic's men managed to dominate possession, with Andreu and Dimas worth their weight in gold.


But their counterparts Mickael Tavares and Milos Dimitrijevic held up the midfield well for FC, forcing the Spanish duo to feed the ball wide.

To be sure, the flanks were where the Wanderers cooked up their chances but their full-backs, in effect, posed more danger than their forwards.

Scott Jamieson found copious space on the left, while a much-improved Scott Neville played in some superb balls from the right that, like numerous Western Sydney opportunities, were lost to final-third profligacy.

One found a flying Romeo Castelen in the box but the Dutch winger's goalward poke struck the wrong side of the near post.

Late in the first half, Castelen managed a rare thread through midfield to Dimas but some excellent defending from Faty thwarted another chance.

Faty's performance perhaps warranted him grabbing the opening goal, a reward for Sydney's patience.

Off Chris Naumoff's corner, Seb Ryall headed cleverly backwards and across goal for the Senegalese defender to head past Andrew Redmayne.

At one point the match threatened to descend into farce, with Mark Bridge shown the offside flag before referee Strebre Delovski overruled the decision.

The players had stopped but Mitch Nichols flew towards goal only to send his shot to Vedran Janjetovic in front of a seething Graham Arnold.

On a rare start, a yellow-carded Matt Simon was customarily feisty yet rarely dangerous, chipping one audacious 50m strike that flew straight into Redmayne's arms.

However, it was probably the quietest on field in Vidosic whose one moment of brilliance restored parity just before the hour mark.

The marquee latched onto a Castelen pass and curled a delectable shot that floated wide of a diving Janjetovic and tucked back in at his back post.

The Wanderers were desperate and nearly pulled ahead just before 80 minutes when Janjetovic made a major save to deny substitute Kearyn Baccus, who had been set up beautifully by Mitch Nichols.

But for all the on-field tension, it was Ali Abbas' 69th-minute introduction that set off a hostile crowd.

Boos greeted the Iraqi international for his first emotion-charged revisit to the scene of his severe knee injury 14 months ago, the same fans' taunts a very factor that motivated his rehabilitation.

As the match inched towards extra-time, there was a sense another goal was coming - albeit almost cruelly and from an unlikely source.

Sydney were awarded a free-kick after Nikolai Topor-Stanley held up George Blackwood by the shirt. With the ball headed back into a penalty box scramble, an unmarked Smeltz picked up the crumbs to fire home and leave the hosts empty-handed.