And that’s four on the trot! The Western Sydney juggernaut rolls on after Mark Bridge’s late winner handed the Wanderers a late 2-1 victory over the Phoenix.Here’s what we saw.
Bridge making his Mark
It’s easy to forget that Mark Bridge is the Wanderers’ greatest ever goal scorer.
Though if the number 19 continues to churn out displays like Saturday’s, we won’t need much more reminding.
In what was only his second start of the season, Bridge was the difference in a match that threatened to rob the Wanderers of maximum points.
Having played much of the last campaign up top and in the 10, Bridge has rediscovered his groove in his preferred left flank slot, a position that grants him license to play the role of provider and executor.
On Saturday against the Phoenix, he was both.
First, it was his expertly timed marauding run that granted Federico Piovaccari the easiest of tap-ins before a sumptuous feign and touch in the 85th minute allowed Bridge to blast home for his 51st Hyundai A-League goal.
After a quiet 2014/15 season and an injury-riddled start this time round, we’re now seeing acute signs that Bridge is clicking back to his match-winning best.
Pio finding his mojo
What a sight it was seeing Federico Piovaccari leap the advertising hoardings and celebrate with the home fans for the first time.
There was pipe-playing, first-pumping and even a kiss for Bridge, who had teed up the Italian after a halfway breakaway.
And while it was certainly satisfying to see the marquee man bag his second goal in as many weeks, what was more pleasing was the way he bustled about for his 70 minutes on the pitch.
Lining-up up against the no-nonsense pairing of Andrew Durante and Ben Sigmund is a task relished by few but no one seemed to have informed the broad-shouldered Italian, who was never far from front-third commotion.
Post-match, boss Tony Popovic acknowledged that although the burning’s been slow, Piovaccari is starting to mold into a leading-man figure.
“He’s a goal scorer – we knew what we signed.
“You can see that he’s getting more powerful, getting stronger.
“He looked dangerous a lot more often and that’ll get better.”
Andreu a rare breed
He might not have received top billing on the night and it was by no means his most polished performance but on Saturday Andreu showed just why he was headhunted by Popovic in the off-season.
The Wanderers’ new style of play was always going to hinge on the quality of those who would operate in the deep-lying playmaker positions and together with compatriot Dimas, Andreu seems to be reading the blueprint perfectly.
You can tell a lot about a so-called ball-player not necessarily by the passes he makes but rather the passes he receives.
Be it with a man close on his back or in a tight closed-off pocket, Andreu’s teammates are never afraid of playing him the ball at whatever speed or angle the situation demands.
Re-watch the tape or make a note of it for Sunday’s game and you’ll get the idea: those around Andreu have full confidence in the midfielder’s ability to receive, protect and distribute the ball.
Players of the Spaniard’s ilk are high-prized commodities in these parts and after only seven league games, you get the feeling that Andreu’s stock is only going to rise higher and higher.
Our best run of form since…
The record-breaking 10 consecutive wins of 2013.
That’s quite some time between drinks but the winning mentality seems to be seeping back into the bloodstream.
Up next is a visit to an out-of-luck Mariners outfit that has collected just the single victory so far this season.
Following that is a favourable stretch of four home games in five weeks that brings us into the New Year.
It’s a period in which the competition traditionally will begin to separate the hunters from the hunted and there’s now a bona fide sense that the Wanderers will be confident of coming through the other end smiling.
Did you notice the White Ribbons on our jerseys against Wellington? You can now bid for the match-worn charity jerseys by clicking here.