A Mark Bridge special in the dying minutes of the match has given the NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers their fourth win in a row after a 2-1 victory over Wellington Phoenix.In the Wanderers’ fourth annual White Ribbon match, which campaigns to end men’s violence against women, both teams entered the match on ten points and looking to harden their claim for a top six position.
Returning home after three wins on the trot, the Wanderers exploded out of gates with both Mitch Nichols and Federico Piovaccari having early chances.
Wellington had never kept a clean sheet at Pirtek Stadium and it wasn’t long before the excellent spell of early Wanderers pressure took its toll, although when the moment did come, it came in extraordinary fashion.
One-on-one with Glenn Moss, Bridge might’ve buried the chance himself but the striker squared to unmarked Piovaccari who gleefully tapped home into an empty net.
Tony Popovic’s side had chances to double their lead soon after.
Scott Jamieson set-up Bridge for a snapshot inside the box which was smothered by Moss and minutes later Jamieson himself lashed home an extraordinary half volley following a corner only for the referee to spot a foul in the build-up.
In what always promised to be an open, entertaining affair, the Nix managed to force a reply just ten minutes after Piovaccari’s opener.
After surging forward down the left, Phoenix fullback Manny Muscat stepped inside the Wanderers defence and curled an effort beyond Redmayne and into the far corner.
Following Wellington’s equalizer, the match entered a lengthy midfield tussle but the Wanderers were still able to carve out the half’s best chances without reward.
The Wanderers were quick to take the ascendancy into the second half with another intricately worked free kick routine involving Jamieson, Dimas and Vidosic creating havoc in the Phoenix penalty area.
Topor-Stanley and Alberto enjoyed a relatively safe evening at the back end of the pitch and they each almost made a telling impact at the other end with Topor-Stanley’s volley and Alberto’s header cleared off the line.
Although the home side enjoyed the lion’s share of possession, the Phoenix demonstrated a timely reminder of their attacking quality when McGlinchey’s effort was saved by Redmayne, before the Wanderers custodian palmed Alex Rufer’s volley to safety.
Both sides were afforded plenty of opportunities to break forward but a hugely congested final third of the field meant sustained pressure from both sides resulted in little goal scoring opportunities.
However, when the moment arrived for the Wanderers five minutes from full time, it was taken clinically.
Dimas’ corner was glanced away only as far as Mark Bridge who manufactured space inside the box with a clever feint before rifling home the winner.
Bridge’s late strike sealed a hugely important fourth win in a row for the Red and Black, who temporarily climb to third in the table.
Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Federico Piovaccari 9’ Mark Bridge 85’)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Manny Muscat 17’)