The Western Sydney Wanderers celebrated an important victory after a 2-0 victory over Northern Tigers saw the Red & Black maintain their position on the top of the PS4 NPL2 table.
Second half goals from Mario Shabow and Liam Youlley were the difference between the two teams on the scoreboard.
With Tigers – last season’s Grand Final winners – sharing undefeated status with the Wanderers, the Round 3 match was tipped to be an early contender for game of the season and it didn’t disappoint as the two teams provided a thrilling contest.
A fit and disciplined Tigers were determined to ensure a tight match and tested the Wanderers early with a high press and counter attack.
While defensively solid, the Tigers struggled to create many goal scoring opportunities of their own with Wanderers keeper Matthew Symes rarely called into action.
Lachlan Scott had half chances to add to his impressive six goal tally so far this season but each time there was an opening for the striker, a determined Tigers defense managed to recover at the final moment.
Regardless, it seemed scoring would only be a matter of time for the Wanderers as long as they were patient. Their persistence was finally rewarded when the opener came in the second half.
Jonathan Aspropotamitis, playing his first match in NPL2, was quickest to react when Tigers launched a counter-attack. Aspropotamitis went forward, won the ball and played an angled pass to Shabow.
The midfielder drove towards goal and shaped to pass to the on-rushing Scott but instead placed a left foot shoot past the keeper to open the scoring.
From that moment the Wanderers didn’t look like losing and the result was sealed in the final few minutes when the referee awarded a penalty.
Jackson Bandiera won the ball at left back, turned and played the ball to Brenton Fox on the left wing who hit a back spun pass to Shabow where the midfielder was fouled from behind in the box.
Youlley converted the spot kick to double the lead and seal the Red & Black’s third win to open the season.
The result sees Wanderers remain on top of the table, a position they share with Bankstown City who they play on Saturday night at Jensen Park. Kick-off for first grade is 7pm.
Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Mario Shabow, Liam Youlley)
Northern Tigers 0
U20s: WSW 2-1 Tigers (Michael Trajkovski, Jordan Morfitis)
U18: WSW 3-3 Tigers (Oliver Wiggin, Moudi Najjar, Oliver Puflett)
U16: WSW 3-0 Mounties Wanderers (Alex Lopez x2, Bailey Rule)
U15: WSW 6-2 Mounties Wanderers (Noah Botic x3, Jackson Mortimer x2, George Antonis)
U14: WSW 4-0 Mounties Wanderers (Ali Auglah x2, Alessandrio Jafari, Dimitri Kostopoulos)
U13: WSW 6-0 Mounties Wanderers (Tom Ruperto x2, Karim Farhat, Peter Grozos, Daniel Milicic, Harry Skotadis)