The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers have progressed to the Westfield FFA Cup Round of 16 after a hard-fought 1-0 victory over Brisbane.
Golgol Mebrahtu was the hero for the Wanderers, scoring his first goal back from a lengthy spell on the sidelines with injury.
Tony Popovic opted for a blend of youth, new faces and familiar faces with Scott Jamieson, Mitch Nichols, Andrew Redmayne, Jacob Pepper and Andreu all handed their competitive debuts by the gaffer.
A lacklustre first-half passed without genuine flashes of excitement with both sides exhibiting signs of pre-season rustiness.
The Wanderers survived an early penalty shout when Thomas Broich collided with Brendan Hamill before Mark Bridge’s low drive was safely gathered by Jamie Young.
Scott Jamieson offered a brief glimpse of his offensive potential and it was his left-footed outswingers that proved the only real moments of danger for the Roar rear-guard.
Shane Steffanutto's excellent defensive header prevented Hamill from nodding home at the back post before the resulting Jamieson corner saw Mebrahtu's header stopped by Young.
Brisbane began to wrestle back control on the 15-minute mark.
The Wanderers had never beaten the Roar with Matt McKay in the side and the Socceroo was instrumental in Brisbane's best attacking moves.
McKay's lofted through pass put new signing Jamie Maclaren into a one-on-one tussle with Hamill with the latter picking up the first booking of the match.
Andrew Redmayne, in his first competitive appearance for the Wanderers, almost made a horror start after letting the ball slip through his grasp but Scott Jamieson was on hand to save the keeper’s blushes against his former team.
Although Brisbane finished the half in the ascendancy, Mebrahtu blazed over on the half turn after good build up play from Nichols and Bridge in what was the Wanderer’s best chance of the opening 45 minutes.
The Wanderers opened the second half strongly with Jaushua Sotirio and Mebrahtu each spurning half-chances.
Brisbane continued to struggle with the overlapping runs of Jamieson whose dangerous balls from the left remained the main source of attacking potential for the Wanderers.
Sotirio was replaced by Romeo Castelen on the 60th minute and the Dutchman added some much needed composure in the final third.
His arrival forced a minor reshuffle amongst the attacking quartet with Nichols stationed on the left-hand side, Mebrahtu taking up a more central position.
The move almost paid immediate dividends when Mebrahtu was sent through on goal in the 66th minute with his deflected effort forcing Young into a fine reaction save.
But just minutes later the former Melbourne Heart man made the breakthrough after coolly slotting home after a Kearyn Baccus pass laid the foundations for Castelen’s set-up.
It was a deserved lead for Popovic’s men – the Wanderers had dominated the second half and Popovic was rewarded for his subtle tactical change.
More excellent wing play from Jamieson gave Mark Bridge a free header and a chance to seal progress to the round of 16 but the Wanderers captain was unable to connect with his diving effort.
Just minutes later Bridge had the chance to put the Wanderers 2-0 up after Joshua Macdonald was adjudged to have been fouled in the box but his placed spot kick was easily palmed away by Young.
Despite a few late scares, the Wanderers held on to progress to the Westfield FFA cup Round of 16 for the first time, in front of the fourth largest FFA Cup crowd ever.
Western Sydney Wanderers: Andrew Redmayne (GK), Jacob Pepper, Scott Jamieson, Brendan Hamill, Daniel Alessi, Kearyn Baccus, Andreu (Liam Youlley 90'+3), Mitch Nichols, Jaushua Sotirio (Romeo Castelen 60'), Golgol Mebrahtu (Josh Macdonald 78'), Mark Bridge.