The Western Sydney Wanderers have surged back to the top of the table after one of the games of the season against Bankstown City.It looked like the Wanderers were going to suffer late heartbreak once again when they conceded an 87th minute equaliser but a touch of class by Tariq Maia saw the Red & Black come away with a 3-2 win in the 93rd minute.
There was excitement in the air heading into the match as the second-placed Wanderers hosted third-placed Bankstown with the potential for either side to go into first place with a win.
Back in Round 4 the Lions defeated the Wanderers and with former Western Sydney captain, Michael Beauchamp, lining-up for the away team, it turned into a match for the ages.
Predictions of an entertaining match were soon justified as both teams should have scored in the first two minutes: Bankstown hitting over the bar before Kyle Cimenti shot wide for the hosts.
Bankstown had the best of the opening minutes of the physical encounter and took a deserved lead when Gerard Ouffoue scored in the 17th minute but the match was back on equal terms within ten minutes.
With Jordan Morfitis lining up a free-kick, centre back Keanu Baccus made a run and it was rewarded when he was able to flick Morfitis’ free-kick into the net with his head, running straight to the supporters to celebrate his maiden NPL goal.
Non-stop action continued in the second half with Matt Symes keeping the score at 1-1 with a great reflex save to deny a close-range shot by Bankstown.
Tariq Maia then had an effort of his own blocked but only had to wait three more minutes until he took the lead with goal of the season.
Receiving the ball in his own half, the fleet-footed midfielder rounded a defender, dribbled all the way to the top of the box before shooting into the bottom corner. An exquisite finish for one of the best solo runs you’ll ever see.
Bankstown went down to ten men shortly after as Dominic Hudup was sent off for an extremely dangerous tackle on Tacettin Kumsuz, forcing the injured 16-year-old to be carried off the pitch after the disgraceful challenge.
From there it looked like Wanderers were going to extend their lead, hitting the crossbar before Ramy Najjarine forced two saves in four minutes but when Bankstown equalised in the 87th minute it appeared the Red & Black had thrown away two points.
But just as the crowd were getting ready to leave, Tariq Maia took matters into his own hands once again.
Receiving the ball near the top of the box, the midfielder took a touch into space before launching the ball into the back of the net with a powerful strike, sending the home crowd into raptures.
The strike was an incredible way to win one of the best matches of the season, fitting for such a high quality contest.
The win lifts Wanderers to first place on the table, three points ahead of Sydney FC who lost to Northern Tigers while Bankstown City remain in third.
Next up for Wanderers is a trip to St George Soccer Stadium as they take on St George FC on Saturday night. Kick-off is 7pm.
Western Sydney Wanderers 3 (Keanu Baccus 26’ Tariq Maia 54’ 93’)
Bankstown City 2 (Gerard Ouffoue 17’ Jack Musgrave 87’)
Western Sydney Wanderers: Matthew Symes (GK), Tate Russell, Abdelrahman Kuku, Keanu Baccus, Daniel Blachura, Cameron Devlin, Tacettin Kumzus (Lawrence Hanna), Tariq Maia, Ramy Najjarine (Charles Abou), Jordan Morfitis (Moudi Najjar), Kyle Cimenti
Unused subs: Nick Suman (GK), Lachlan Campbell
20s: WSW 3-0 Bankstown City
18s: WSW 1-1 Bankstown City
16s: WSW 0-2 Northern Tigers
15s: WSW 4-1 Northern Tigers
14s: WSW 2-1 Northern Tigers
13s: WSW 1-1 Northern Tigers