NPL Wrap: U20s qualify for Grand Final

The Wanderers Academy's U20s side are one game away from completing the Premiership-Championship double after a 1-0 Semi Final victory over Rydalmere Lions. 

Yousef Sawalha's early goal was enough on Saturday afternoon for the Wanderers to book their place in their fourth consecutive U20s Grand Final.

Despite the Wanderers going down to 10-men after a first-half red card for Angelo Kalamavokis, the Red & Black stood tall and showed true spirit to hold onto their lead. 

The Red & Black started brightly and in the fifth minute Callum Watt got on the end of a cross, only to be denied by Rydalmere goalkeeper Luke Cotten. Seconds later, Sawalha went even closer with his swinging corner kick headed off the goal line.

The Wanderers pressure in the opening minutes paid off as Sawalha ran into the area, squeezing a low shot under Cotten into the far corner to make it 1-0. 

Sawalha


Very strong winds meant that the game was mostly played in the midfield and chances were at a premium for both teams. 

Just before the half-hour mark, the Wanderers were dealt a blow when Kalamvokis was sent off for a foul on the edge of the area.

The Red & Black were still able to maintain control and could have even doubled their lead going into halftime, but Sawalha's lobbed effort landed wide of the goal.

Midfield


The midfield battle continued after the break. Sawalha was at the heart of all the Wanderers' best moves and in the 58th minute he breezed past a defender and cut the ball back for Stefan Nikolic, however, Rydalmere's defence was able to scramble the ball to safety. 

Rydalmere then had a good spell and Wanderers goalkeeper Elliot Carwardine made two excellent saves in the space of a couple of minutes.

There was another close call with a quarter of an hour left when Rydalmere winger Emilio Gutierres hit the post from 20 yards out.

U20s


The Red & Black defended admirably in the dying minutes as Rydalmere threw players forward. 

The Wanderers even had a chance of their own after Nicolas Milanovic beat an opponent inside the area, but the angle was too tight for him to score. 

Deep into stoppage time, Rydalmere had one last chance from a corner kick but the Red & Black held on to secure an impressive win.

Next Saturday, the Wanderers will travel to Seymour Shaw to face Northern Tigers in their fourth consecutive U20 Grand Final. Kick-off is at 1:00pm. 

U20s


Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Yousef Sawalha 9’)
Rydalmere Lions 0

Western Sydney Wanderers: Elliot Carwardine, Jack Hutchings, Angelo Kalamvokis, Thomas McPherson, Issac Hovar, Callum Watt, Dean Pelekanos (c), Yousef Sawalha (Ashton Ahluwalia 81’), Evan Tsakos, Nicolas Milanovic (Peter Grozos 90+2’), Stefan Nikolic (Jake Trew 62’)
Unused substitutes: Griffin Barry, Bilal Chahine