Wanderers go top after silencing Roar
Hyundai A-League – Round 9
Western Sydney Wanderers
Bridge 29’, Nichols 79’
Brisbane Roar 1
By Arvind Hickman
Western Sydney Wanderers have gone to the top of the Hyundai A-League table after beating Brisbane Roar 2-1 at Pirtek stadium on Saturday night.
A Mark Bridge goal was cancelled out by a classy Jamie Maclaren chip in the first half before a sumptuous Mitch Nichols goal sealed matters in the 79th minute.
Roar had a few legitimate claims for penalties turned down. The first should have gone to the spot when Scott Neville took out Maclaren in the 4th minute after a poor Alberto header played the stiker onto goal.
The second was less clear cut. Jacob Pepper used his hand to control the ball in the Wanderers box after it had deflected off his leg, while a shirt pull on Brandon Borrello was also ruled OK, both ccontentious decisions that could have been given on another night.
In an entertaining encounter between two of the more attractive footballing sides, Bridge openend the scoring against the run of play in the 28th minute.
A divine turn from Andreu near his own box fooled two Roar players, and the Spaniard swiftly turned defence into attack. The ball was played onto Romeo Castelen who surged past a couple of Roar players and into their box before his defected cut back fell into the lap of Mark Bridge to slot home unmarked.
Castelen nearly inspired another goal moments later when he ran diagonally into the box between two defenders and played a neat one-two with Nichols, who’s back heel set up the Dutch forward, but his shot was well blocked.
The Roar equalised after a careless touch by Wanderers in the middle of the pitch fell to Thomas Broich, who poked through a diagonal ball to Maclaren in space. The dangerous Roar marksmen ran at Nikolai Topor-Stanley, dropped his shoulder and created space before expertly chipping Redmayne.
The defender should have done better to close down the shot, but it was the least Roar deserved after showing plenty of enterprise and at times dominating the first half.
Late on, a brilliant last ditch tackle by Daniel Bowles robbed Bridge when he had been played through and only had the keeper to beat.
In the second half both sides pressed forward and ventured into promising positions without a killer blow.
Super sub Brendon Santalab should have done better after pick-pocketing North and only had the ‘keeper to beat. Santalab pulled the trigger from outside the box when he could have taken the ball closer, forcing Jamie Young to produce a sharp save.
Maclaren had a good chance when he latched onto a long ball that neither Topor-Stanley or Alberto could deal with, but fired his shot wide of the post.
Nichols scored a worthy winner with 10 minutes to play. After some good lead up work involving Scott Jamieson, Nichols turned on a defender on the edge of the penalty area, took one pace and curled an unstoppable shot into the right corner to send the 9,000 crowd into raptures.
Some resolute bodies-on-the-line defending kept the Roar at bay.
Roar coach John Aloisi was disappointed by the result but not the performance.
“I thought it as a really entertaining game between two very good sides. We created a number of opportunities and it is frustrating to come away with nothing,” he said.
“In terms of the way the boys performed I’m very happy and very proud of the way they stuck with the structures. [They] are improving each game, and we know the results will turn.”
Aloisi questioned a couple of penalty shouts that were not called, in particular a shirt pull on Borrello and the Pepper handball.
“When Stefanutto gets a yellow card from a handball when he’s turned his back from three metres and then right at the end the ball comes from a fair distance and hits [Pepper’s] hand, I don’t know the rules – you can tell me if you thought it was a penalty.”
Wanderers coach Tony Popovic was pleased to continue a run of six straight wins and said his charges defended well.
“The majority of the games this year, we’ve probably controlled most of them. Today we weren’t at our best but the pleasing thing is we still won,” he said.
“We defended very well, it’s something we’ve improved on since round 1. Today we had a lot of set pieces to defend and we did that well, our defending in the box was really resilient and we put our bodies on the line.”
Western Sydney Wanderers: Redmayne, Neville, Alberto, Topor-Stanley (c), Jamieson, Andreu, Dimas, Nichols (Pepper 83’), Castelen, Bridge (Santalab 62’), Vidosic (Sotirio 73’)
Coach: Tony Popovic
Brisbane Roar: Young, Hingert, Bowles, North, Stefanutto (Clut 83’), Corona, Petratos, McKay (c), Henrique (Borrello 60’), Maclaren, Broich
Coach: John Aloisi
Scorers: Bridge 29’, Maclaren 36’, Nichols 79’
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Nichols 2’ (WSW), Stefanutto 10’ (BR), Dimas 45+1’ (WSW), Santalab 90+2’ (WSW)
Officials: Kris Griffith-Jones. Assistant Referees: Ryan Gallagher, Owen Goldrick
Referee: 6/10 – Missed a couple of solid penalty shouts.
3 – Dimas (WSW) – Industrious and assured in possession throughout. Broke up Roar attacks and provided danger from the set piece.
1 – Maclaren (BR) – Scored Roar’s goal and looked their most dangerous player throughout.
1 – Nichols (WSW) – Found that moment of inspiration and class when his side needed it most in a game where few stood out.
1 – McKay (BR) – Solid and tidy display by the captain, led by example and rarely set a foot wrong.