The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers have returned to equal first on the Hyundai A-League ladder after a 1-0 win over Newcastle Jets.A lone strike by Jaushua Sotirio early in the first half was enough to overcome a Newcastle outfit who didn’t have much to offer until the final ten minutes.
Heading into the match with only one win in the past five matches, Western Sydney were in desperate need of three points to return to the top of the league after wins by Brisbane Roar and Melbourne City had seen the Red & Black temporarily drop to fourth place.
Mark Bridge and Nikolai Topor-Stanley both returned to the line-up after missing last week’s late loss to Brisbane Roar while Dario Vidosic made his return from the bench.
The skipper didn’t waste any time getting involved as he headed two early opportunities over the bar as the Wanderers started the match on the front foot.
Dimas looked in the mood and was also unable to take advantage of two opportunities in the opening minutes but it was a touch of class from the Spaniard that set-up the only goal of the match.
A deft clip over the defensive line from Dimas found an on-running Bridge whose cross narrowly evaded a sliding Mitch Nichols before being hit home emphatically by Sotirio at the far post.
It was the youngster’s second goal in the Hyundai A-League and Bridge’s third assist in as many games.
Sotirio almost made it 2-0 soon after with a composed, curling shot that was only just tipped away for a corner by the Jets’ Mark Birighitti.
A 1-0 lead at the break was the least the Wanderers deserved and they came out of the blocks in the second half with perhaps their most dominant 20 minutes of the season.
Scott Neville, Dimas and Bridge all had opportunities to extend the lead but an impressive Birighitti ensured that the score stayed at 1-0.
The wasted chances almost came back to haunt the Red & Black when Liam Reddy was forced into a save before the Jets hit the woodwork late on.
Newcastle even had the chance to equalise right at the death as Birighitti came up for a corner only to see his shot blocked before it could reach the goalmouth.
While not an ideal final ten minutes for the Red & Black, the win hoists them equal with Brisbane Roar on points at the top of the table with a performance that mostly resembled the Wanderers’ dominant displays earlier in the season.
Next up for Tony Popovic and his charges is third-placed Adelaide United at Pirtek Stadium in one of the match-ups of the season so far.
Tickets are available by clicking here. Kick-off is at 7:30pm on Saturday 19 March.
Register a team free of charge into the Wanderers 2016 Harmony Cup six-a-side competition and every player receives a free ticket to the match.