Wanderers overpower brave Jets

By Arvind Hickman:

Hyundai A-League Round 12

Thursday 24 December, 2015 – Pirtek Stadium, Paramatta

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2
(Alberto 47, Bridge 70)


Newcastle Jets FC 0


The Western Sydney Wanderers have given their fans an early Christmas treat with a near faultless 2-0 win over the Newcastle Jets on Thursday night.

In a performance that oozed confidence and fluency, the Wanderers were gifted their first goal before a classy second from the red-hot Mark Bridge capped off a complete display that will only shorten their odds as title favourites.

It’s now nine games without loss for the men in Red and Black. They open up a five-point lead at the A-League summit with second-placed Brisbane Roar battling third-placed Melbourne City on Sunday.

Although the Jets fell asleep for the Wanderers opening goal, the visitors should have won a penalty and provided a stern challenge to the competition frontrunners.

Scott Miller set up his side to defend deep and make it difficult for the Wanderers by getting plenty of bodies behind the ball. On the counter they created a couple of golden chances, but lacked composure during key moments.

In the 14th minute, Jets winger David Carney played through Ryan Kitto with just Redmayne to beat. But the Wanderers keeper rushed at Kitto and brilliantly cleared the danger before he could pull the trigger.

For the Wanderers, Mark Bridge, Romeo Castelen and Federico Piovaccari returned to the starting lineup and proved a handful all night.

Piovaccari should have opened the Wanderers account in the 15th minute after Bridge’s deflected shot fell into the lap of the Italian hitman inside the box. With ‘keeper Mark Birighitti already committed to the flight of Bridge’s initial attempt, Piovaccari had a huge target to aim for but was unable to keep his shot down.

While rustiness could be blamed for that effort – the Italian has been out injured for several weeks – brilliance thwarted his next. The excellent Dimas pick-pocketed Cameron Watson, surged to the edge of the Jets area and teed up the Italian, who forced Birighitti into a smart, low save.

A sumptious move, involving Carney, Enver Alivodic and Milos Trifunovic, created the Jets second bankable opening. Trifunovic, on the left side of the box, was played onto goal with only Redmayne to beat, but his first touch was poor and allowed Scott Neville to make an important last ditch tackle. Again, a lack of composure proving costly.

In a major talking point, Neville was lucky not to concede a penalty when he handled the ball in a duel with Daniel Mullen from a Jets corner. Mullen was pulled up for a foul when it should have gone to the spot.

That bit of bad luck was compounded by woeful defending deep into first half injury time. A needless foul invited Scott Jamieson to curl a dangerous ball into the Newcastle box. Alberto, criminally unmarked on the back post, headed the set piece towards goal, and what should have been a routine save turned into a nightmare as Birighitti bundled the ball into the back of the net.

After all of the hard work it was a late lapse in concentration that undid the Jets who had deserved parity heading into the sheds.

To Newcastle’s credit they continued to take the game to the Wanderers, creating a few half chances in the second but lacking that bit of quality in the final third to find a killer blow.

Quality is not in short supply with this Wanderers outift and they always looked the more likely to score.

Nichols fired wide after good lead up work from Bridge, before Castelen nearly doubled the lead on the hour mark. The Dutch winger beat an opponent to a loose ball near half way, flew down the right flank into the penalty area and turned inside a defender before Jets cover defence did enough to force his shot over.

In the 64th minute, Nichols was replaced by Dario Vidosic. Bridge, who was excellent on the left wing, shifted into a more central number 10 role, which proved telling five minutes later.

Vidosic tested Birighitti from the edge of the area and picked up the rebound. He then found Bridge in box, who provided an exquisite turn and finish to make it five goals in as many games and wrap up the points.

Miller was pleased with the effort of his charges but said they were not clinical enough at key moments in the game. There is room for improvement in this injury hit Jets side, but this was a promising performance against a top side.

Popovic was understandably impressed with his side against a tricky opponent and believes there is more to come, particularly with Piovaccari and Bridge yet to find full match fitness.

The Italian striker played well as a target man tonight, holding up the ball strongly and linking with Bridge, Castelen and Nichols. Although still lacking a bit of sharpness in front of goal, he is starting to adapt to the pace and rigours of the A-League.

The Wanderers will be an even scarier proposition to any defence when all of their attacking weapons are primed.

Match details

Attendance: 10,141

Western Sydney Wanderers: Redmayne (GK), Neville, Alberto, Topor-Stanley(c), Jamieson, Dimas, Pepper, Nichols (Vidosic 64’), Castelen (Santalab 88’), Bridge (Mebrahtu 80’), Piovaccari

Coach: Tony Popovic

Newcastle Jets: Birighitti(GK), Mullen, Boogaard(c), Kantarovski, Watson, Alivodic, Poljak, Trifunovic, Carney, Cowburn (Jackson 46’), Kitto (Crowley 71’)

Coach: Scott Miller

Scorers: Alberto 45+2, Bridge 70’

Yellow cards: Cowburn (9’), Topor-Stanley (56’), Trifunovic (64’), Carney (84’)

Red cards: nil

Conditions: 22°C, clear


Referee: Stephen Lucas.  Assistants: Lance Greenshield, James Tesoriero; Fourth Official Kris Griffiths Jones

Match ratings

Pitch: 9/10

Referee: 7/10 – solid but missed a howler

Game: 7.5/10


3 – Bridge (WW) Outstanding throughout. Full of energy and involved in most good things. Classy turn and finish for goal was top drawer. Leads by example with  relentless pressing up front.

1 – Castelen (WW) Every time he touches the ball there is danger. On current form, he is the league’s outstanding player. Popovic will want to manage his load to ensure he sustains this level at the business end. Left backs will be investing in Castelen voodoo dolls in the meantime.

1 – Carney (NJ) Involved in everything good for Jets. Instrumental in both of their best chances, including a cute through ball that left Wanderers defence embarrassed. Did not deserve to be on a losing side and away crowd booing is a sign of how well he played.

1 – Dimas (WW) With Andreu out, had to step up and delivered. A general in midfield, made some key intercepts and tackles, and looked assured in possession.