The Wanderers have bounced back from a cruel opening round loss to come-from-behind and claim a point in an entertaining 1-1 draw against the Central Coast Mariners.Going behind early at Marconi Stadium, the Red & Black rebounded in the second half with a Mario Shabow goal ensuring the points were shared.
An end-to-end start to the game saw the Mariners go closest early but a Wanderers’ backline bolstered by veteran Robert Cornthwaite was enough to keep them at bay.
Finding their feet soon after the initial ambush, the Red & Black put the Central Coast on notice when Mario Shabow lofted a shot over the crossbar before Jackson Bandiera twice got himself into the box but was unable to test the keeper.
The Mariners then found opened the scoring against the run of play when a mix up at the back allowed them to rifle home to an empty net.
But the game should have been even again only minutes later when Abraham Majok won a penalty for the Wanderers only to see Mario Shabow’s effort saved by the Mariners’ keeper.
Emerging from the break with plenty of intensity, the Red & Black nearly drew level instantly with Cole centimetres away from connecting with a cross at the back post.
On the hour mark, the Wanderers then found themselves in the Mariners box courtesy of some fine footwork from Liam Youlley and were unlucky to have successive shots blocked by a desperate Central Coast backline.
Persistence eventually paid off for the Wanderers when a brilliant through ball by Cornthwaite opened up the Mariners defence allowing Shabow to slot home in the 73rd minute after a cross to the far post: his third goal in the opening two games.
With their heads up, Western Sydney went searching for a winner and nearly had it with eight minutes to go when Majok had his header saved from close range with Liam Youlley unable to convert on the rebound.
A nervy last few minutes from both teams would see the game end all square with the Wanderers picking up their first point of the Foxtel National Youth League season.
The Wanderers return to Marconi Stadium on Saturday when they take on Sydney FC in Round 3. Kick-off is 6pm with the Westfield W-League taking on Brisbane Roar earlier in the day at 3pm.
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Mario Shabow 75’)
Central Coast Mariners 1
Western Sydney Wanderers: Daniel Axford (GK), Keanu Baccus, Henry Davies, Robbie Cornthwaite, Jackson Banderia (Moudi Najjar), Liam Youlley, Jacob Melling, Tariq Maia (Ramy Najjarine), Mario Shabow, Shannon Cole, Abraham Majok
Unused subs: Mackenzie Syron (GK), Abdelrahman Kuku