It’s now five on the bounce after Brendon Santalab’s first of the season and Mitch Nichols’ fourth handed the Wanderers a 2-0 win in Gosford yesterday.
Here’s what we saw.
Santa as sharp as ever
Despite controlling majority of the game a producing a litany of ‘should’ve-scored’ chances, the Wanderers were beginning to run the risk of letting three points slip through the palm trees.
Luckily we have Brendon Santalab.
Santa had only been on the pitch for 10 minutes when he latched onto Mitch Nichols’ through ball, held off the backtracking Jacob Poscoliero and calmly slid home for the breakthrough.
Whenever he’s been given an opportunity this season, Santalab has showed grit, determination and the uncanny ability to make something happen.
Irrespective of whether he continues as a super-sub or builds up to be more of a protagonist, you can rest assured that Santa’s output will be nothing but fifth-gear stuff.
Andreu and Dimas coast on the Coast
We’ve waxed lyrically about the Spanish duo all season but yesterday Andreu and Dimas took things to another level.
The pair had Montgomery and co chasing shadows in midfield; their movement, control and interchange of passing drawing more than one round of applause from the traveling faithful.
Andreu in particular oozed class: the fact that Mitch Nichols’ goal and assist performance wasn’t enough to trump the Spaniard for man-of-the-match honours should speak volumes about the kind of impact he had/is having.
Together, Andreu and Dimas have been the pin-up boys of the Wanderers revolutionised style and to their credit (and our enjoyment) they seem to be feeling more comfortable with every game.
Nichols, Redmayne stand tall
As much as the Wanderers’ five wins on the trot can be blanketed as a team effort, there’s always going to be one or two individuals who make the necessary match-winning plays.
Last week we saw Mark Bridge steal the spotlight with a goal and an assist and yesterday, Bridge’s performance was replicated by the red-hot Mitch Nichols.
Nichols’ expertly weighted ball provided the goods for Santalab to open the scoring, before the number 6’s scuffed shot trickled its way into the corner for the game-sealer.
Sandwiched in between those two goals was a colossal save from Andrew Redmayne; the big man getting down low to deny Roy O’Donovan a certain goal.
Although the win will be ultimately classified as a comfortable one for the Wanderers, it could’ve been a very different story had Redmayne not given us a hand so to speak.
Wanderers unearth their own Super Mario?
It’s always pleasing to see young local talent make their Hyundai A-League debut for the Wanderers – what’s even more satisfying is when they’re able to raise a few eyebrows in the process.
Yesterday, 17-year-old Mario Shabow came off the bench in the 82nd minute for his first taste of senior action for the Wanderers.
Shabow has been on the fringes of the first team since the beginning of pre-season and after a series of stirring performances for the youth team, Tony Popovic felt the time was right to hand the youngster some game time.
And the Blacktown City junior definitely made the most of his minutes, churning out some silky touches and showing a certain fearlessness with the ball at his feet.
As the season unravels deeper and deeper, Popovic will need to call on a cast beyond his regular eleven and you can bet Shabow will be one of the players vying for a supporting role.