The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers made a solid start to their 2014/15 campaign with a dominant 1-0 victory in their first hit-out of the season.
It was an impressive performance for the Red and Black who controlled play throughout the match with a Brendon Santalab rocket sealing the result at Campbelltown Stadium.
With a mix of experience, youth and trial players, the first half was the perfect opportunity to get minutes into legs, try new combinations and have a look at new players.
It didn’t take long for the potential new combinations to click with chances falling the Wanderers way early though Mark Bridge and Yianni Perkatis were unable to capitalize.
Despite a new-look team in the second half with XI different starters it was more of the same during the ensuing 45 minutes.
A surprisingly fit Red and Black outfit seemed to lift the tempo a further notch and when Vitor Saba entered the field for the first time as a Wanderer it seemed to only be a matter of time until the deadlock was broken.
The Wanderers new signing showed his class in the final third, taking advantage of space with some classy touches that excited those watching in the stands.
It was the space that Saba created that led to the only goal of the match as Santalab found himself with an abundance of time on the ball and proceeded skip past his opponent before unleashing his shot into the top-left hand corner of the goal.
The long-range effort sent the crowd wild and ensured the Red and Black started off the new season in a convincing fashion.
Having started the new season like he finished the last, goal scorer Santalab said the performance was a perfect start.
“We have been working hard in pre season and its nice to get a win tonight,” explained Santalab.
“It’s also great to start with a goal; I’m very happy but there is a long way to go before the start of the season.
Santalab was also very thankful for the large turn-out and said he couldn’t wait to play in front of a packed Pirtek Stadium again.
“It was great to see the fans turn out tonight; they were fantastic as always and we need them behind us every single game.”
First Half XI: 20. Dean Bouzanis (GK), 3. Daniel Mullen, 5. Brendan Hamill, 8. Mateo Poljak, 9. Tomi Juric, 12. Alusine Fofanah, 15. Yianni Perkatis, 18. Iacopo La Rocca, 19. Mark Bridge (C), 22. Steve Kuzmanovski (Trialist), 24. Sandro Pasalic (Trialist).
Second Half XI: 1. Ante Covic (GK), 2. Shannon Cole, 4. Nikolai Topor-Stanley, 6. Marty Lo (Trialist) (17. Liam Youlley 79’), 7. Labinot Haliti, 11. Brandon Santalab, 14. Kwabena Appiah, 16. Jonathan Aspropotamitis (Trialist), 23. Jason Trifiro, 26. Jaushua Sotirio (10. Vito Saba, 67’) 34. Daniel Alessi.