The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers have come-from-behind twice to extend their unbeaten streak to eight matches.Goals from Brendon Santalab and Mitch Nichols were needed as the Red & Black fell behind twice against Perth Glory at nib Stadium in Saturday night.
Nichols’ sixth goal of the season meant that he has scored more in 11 games for the Wanderers than his previous three seasons put together while Santalab scored in his first start of this campaign.
Perth started with all the momentum and confidence gathered from two consecutive wins and gave the Wanderers the worst possible start when Andrew Redmayne conceded a penalty within the opening two minutes.
Spanish import Diego Castro calmly pushed the resulting spot kick beyond the Wanderers’ custodian’s hands to give Kenny Lowe’s team the advantage before the dust had barely settled.
The Wanderers had struggled to deal with Perth’s intensity in the opening ten minutes but they almost forged an equaliser when a mazy run from Scott Jamieson ended in a half chance for Dario Vidosic.
Perth did not look like the side who had failed to win any of their first nine games this season and it took a goal of the highest quality to break their early dominance when a training ground routine executed to perfection from a Wanderers corner resulted in Brendon Santalab slamming home a volley from close range.
The striker’s second goal of the season snapped the Wanderers into action who had two excellent chances to score in the box: Vidosic and Alberto both denied by a pair of good saves by Wanderers keeper Ante Covic.
The rest of the half unfolded into a relative stalemate with both goalkeepers essentially untroubled, leaving scores deadlocked at half time.
With little over half an hour remaining Tony Popovic replaced Jaushua Sotirio with Romeo Castelen, fresh from his starring role in last weekend’s triumph over Melbourne Victory but Perth would reclaim their lead in stunning fashion when Mitchell Oxborrow blasted a free-kick into the top corner from 25 metres.
Redmayne managed to get fingers to Oxborrow’s long distance stunner but was unable to stop the youngster giving the Glory 2-1 lead heading into the game’s closing stages.
The Wanderers had struggled to exhibit the football that had catapulted the side to pole position in the Hyundai A-League title race but had gradually forced Glory deeper and deeper into their own half with each passing minute.
Scott Neville headed over from a Vidosic free kick with the Wanderers edging closer to an equaliser before the Red & Black eventually came back for the second time in the match: man of the moment Mitch Nichols maintaining his incredible early season form by curling a superbly placed shot into the corner of the net with Covic rooted.
The Red & Black pushed hard to find a late winner but Glory were able to hold on for a point in an absorbing game at nib Stadium.
The draw sees Western Sydney remain at the top of the table, next taking on Newcastle Jets at Pirtek Stadium on Christmas Eve. Up to two kids go free for every general admission ticket purchased with tickets available here.