The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers continued their pre-season camp in Japan with a 3-1 win against Kokushikan University SC in a practice match yesterday evening.
A first half strike to returning son Kerem Bulut and two classic Brendon Santalab finishes in the second half secured the win for the Red & Black in hot and humid Tokyo conditions.
The Wanderers opted to field two different sides in each half, with Bulut spearheading the line to begin with.
Wearing number nine, Bulut was his usual aggressive self and his directness was causing Kokushikan’s back four plenty of early headaches.
The Japanese side weren’t resting on their heels though, as they enjoyed some positive spells of possession inside the Wanderers half.
Youngster Brenton Fox went closest to opening the scoring in the opening exchanges but his volley from close-range cannoned off the crossbar.
When the deadlock was broken, it was no surprise to see who found the net.
After racing onto a loose ball just over half way, Bulut carried the ball 30 metres with a defender on his shoulder before slotting the ball past the keeper from a rather difficult angle.
With half-time came a fresh set of legs and the Wanderers began to dominate all across the park. However it was Kokushikan who would find the next goal, capitalising on a loose ball inside the Wanderers 18-yard box.
Despite the setback, the Wanderers went about their work unfazed with the attacking quarter of Jumpei Kusukami, Mitch Nichols, Lawrence Hanna and Brendon Santalab combining well in the final third.
The breakthrough came when Jumpei released Brendan Hamill down the right hand-side, allowing the defender to slide a gorgeous ball in behind the defence to a waiting Santalab to tap home.
Just three minutes later and Santalab had his second in very similar circumstances. This time it was Dimas releasing Mitch Nichols down the right, who drove the ball across the face of goal to give Santalab the easiest of finishes.
The Wanderers could have extended their lead late on with Jumpei in particular slicing through the defence with ease, but will be buoyed by what was a quality performance after a tough couple of days on the training field.
Kokushikan University SC 1
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Kerem Bulut 18’, Brendon Santalab 70’, 73’)
Western Sydney Wanderers:
First half: Jerrad Tyson (GK), Scott Neville, Robert Cornthwaite, Aritz Borda, Jack Clisby, Jacob Melling, Bruno Piñatares, Brenton Fox, Steven Lustica, Emilio Martinez, Kerem Bulut
Second half: Andrew Redmayne (GK), Shannon Cole, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Jonathan Aspropotamitis, Brendan Hamill, Dimas, Kearyn Baccus, Lawrence Hanna, Mitch Nichols, Jumpei Kusukami, Brendon Santalab