The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers are on top of the table for the first time in over two years after their 2-1 win over Brisbane Roar.It was the sixth consecutive win for the Red & Black, a feat only achieved by four other teams in the history of the Hyundai A-League: all of whom have gone on to win the Premier’s Plate.
Mitch Nichols was the hero again, scoring a contender for goal of the season to break the deadlock and claim his fifth strike of the season.
The Wanderers started the game uncharacteristically sloppy in possession, allowing Brisbane to zip the ball around the host’s half with confidence.
But Tony Popovic’s men broke the deadlock in the face of this good spell by the visitors. Excellent work by Andreu in the build-up supplied Romeo Castelen down the right before the Dutchman’s deflected cross was turned home at the back post by Mark Bridge.
Unfortunately for the Red & Black, the match would take another twist before half time when the Roar equalised through Maclaren, who steered past Redmayne after latching onto Thomas Broich’s pass.
The second stanza began cautiously as both sides attempted to wrestle control of the match.
Brisbane enjoyed a dearth of promising attacking moves down the right through the overlapping Jack Hingert, with the Wanderers defence at their most wary to repel the waves of pressure.
Popovic replaced his goal scorer Bridge with super-sub Brendon Santalab with half an hour remaining and the move almost paid dividends when the serial pest stole possession from Jade North and forced Jamie Young into a low save at the near post.
The Wanderers had by now regained dominance of the ball but Brisbane were defending tirelessly from the front deny the Red & Black room to manoeuvre but the Wanderers remained resolute and edged in front with ten minutes remaining courtesy of a Mitch Nichols wondergoal.
In a second half lacking the excitement of the first, Nichols’ strike from outside the area was worth the price of admission alone: a thunderous yet elegant curling strike that beat Jamie Young at full stretch.
Next week now looks to be the match of the season as the first placed Wanderers host second placed Victory in a top-of-the-table clash for the ages.
Kick-off is 7:30pm at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday 12 December, tickets are available here.