The Western Sydney Wanderers senior teams have finished the first ever season of the Wanderers Academy with three grand finals, one premiership and one championship.
With all three senior teams making the grand final, they were played back-to-back at Leichhardt Oval with the U18s completing a premiership/championship double as they defeated Sydney FC 2-1 in the decider.
Despite going down a goal early, the young Wanderers – who had an average age of 15.9 years – fought back with Josh Bartolotto and Jeremy Skotadis scoring to complete the comeback.
It was a deserved achievement for the 18s who have been top of the table for the entire season.
Up next were the U20s who finished the regular season in second place. They too conceded first but responded in fins fashion through Brandon Robertson only 90 seconds later.
In what was the toughest match of the season, the game went down to extra time with Sydney FC scoring the winner through an unfortunate deflection that left the goalkeeper stranded.
It truly was a battle of attrition with the Wanderers’ centre back moving to centre forward by the end of the game and the reserve goalkeeper ready to come on in the outfield so tough were the conditions.
A deflected goal in extra time was a cruel way to end the season but the 20s can be proud of their season – and their Grand Final performance – after one of the finest displays all year.
The first grade was always going to be a tough encounter for the Red & Black with ten players unavailable due to international duty and another two first choice players out with injury but the match started off well for the Wanderers.
Moudi Najjar – who began the season in the U18s – got on the end of a fantastic cross by Jordan Morfitis to open the scoring.
Unfortunately, the Wanderers couldn’t hold on with Sydney FC replying almost instantly and scoring three goals within the following ten minutes to take a 3-1 lead into half time.
The Red & Black came out of the shed looking a different team and created a number of chances without being able to capitalise and when Sydney FC hit them on the break to stretch the lead to three goals there was no way back.
Having used 40 players in first grade throughout the season, it was an impressive effort by the Wanderers to finish second in the regular season by just one win and make it to the Grand Final in their debut season.
Up next for the Wanderers Academy will be the selection of the club’s youth team which will play in the Foxtel National Youth League competition: FFA’s national league that runs alongside the Hyundai A-League.
The juniors (13s-16s) play their final match this weekend.