The NRMA Insurance Western Sydney Wanderers are sitting in equal first place after their 2-0 win over Central Coast Mariners gave them their fifth victory in a row.Apart from a few late chances to the Mariners, it was a commanding performance from the Red & Black who did not give the home side an inch in a dominant display.
Brendon Santalab was the hero: coming off the bench in the second half to put away his first goal since his return from injury before Mitch Nichols sealed the result with an injury-time strike.
It was a new look line-up for the Red & Black with Federico Piovaccari rested from match-duty and a pre-game injury for Mark Bridge seeing the forward replaced by Dario Vidosic in the starting XI.
The late change did little to impact the Wanderers’ play though with the Red & Black superb from the opening whistle: Nichols almost opening the scoring early as his strike from range towards an empty net narrowly going wide.
Romeo Castelen was next to line-up, firstly hitting the post before being involved in a delightful build-up with Nichols and Vidosic that saw Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s header crashed into the side-netting.
The second half continued as the first played-out, with sustained pressure from the Wanderers arresting near complete control of the ball in the Mariners’ half.
Castelen remained a handful for the Mariners but his goalless season continued when he came agonisingly close twice more: once with a deflected effort that flew wide of the goal and secondly when released one on one with Izzo.
The Wanderers had racked up a catalogue of presentable chances in the second half and they finally made one count when Santalab, who had earlier replaced Vidosic, fired home assuredly after being sent through on goal by a superb ball by Nichols.
Central Coast attempted to force an equaliser in a strong finish to the match but Andrew Redmayne was the hero for the Wanderers, making a vital save that showed off the reflexes that had made him such a highly-sought prospect only a few seasons ago.
Redmayne’s save ensured the clean sheet was retained and the victory was guaranteed only moment later when Scott Neville’s lung-busting run allowed space for Jaushua Sotirio to find Mitch Nichols in the box.
The midfielder scuffed the shot against his standing foot but the surprise direction of the shot sent Izzo the wrong way and doubled the lead and sealed the win for the Red & Black.
With five wins in a row lifting them to equal first on the Hyundai A-League ladder, the Western Sydney Wanderers go into next Saturday’s clash against Brisbane Roar with outright top spot within reach.
You can be there to see it person by clicking here for tickets. The match kicks-off at 7:30pm at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday 5 December.