The Western Sydney Wanderers have showed that they have the potential to be a force in NPL2 this season when they defeated a near-full strength Sydney United 58 on Sunday with goals from Mario Shabow, Lachlan Scott and Tariq Maia.
The gutsy 3-2 win over the NPL1 team was a spectacle with impressive goals, a penalty, a red card and even a comeback. If the match is any indication, Wanderers fans have plenty to look forward to in the season ahead.
Kicking-off at Edensor Park, Sydney United burst out of the blocks and had the best of the territory in the opening exchanges.
While the majority of the first stanza was played in the Wanderers’ defensive half, United were unable to make it count by creating any real chances and they were made to pay just before half time.
Save for a few forays out wide, Wanderers were also without any significant chances but were able to capitalise when finally given an opportunity.
A United defender tried to take on Shabow in his own defensive third but the Wanderers’ midfielder won possession and, finding himself one-on-one with the keeper, calmly finished to take a 1-0 lead into half time.
It was a tough, physical 45 minutes with the only difference an error in judgment by the United defender.
The second half started in a favourable fashion for the Wanderers with a number of half chances before Scott doubled the lead with another goal to add to his pre-season tally.
Receiving an impressive diagonal ball, Scott found himself in space in the final third, drew the keeper and shot to make it 2-0.
A host of Wanderers chances followed and just when it appeared the Red & Black would run away with the game United were given a lifeline as the referee adjudged a deliberate handball in the box and awarded the home team a penalty.
The dot shot was converted to bring the score back to 2-1 but United were again on the back foot only minutes later when Rob Mileski was sent off after arguing with the referee about a decision, receiving his second yellow card.
Not to be pushed-over, United managed to equalise with ten men as Matthew Symes saved a shot but couldn’t do anything about the rebound.
But parity didn’t last long as Maia scored the best goal of the game shortly afterwards following great inter-play in and around the box.
Cameron Devlin put in a wonderful ball for Scott who flicked on to Maia who toed it into the net.
Despite a nervy conclusion to the game for the Red & Black where Symes was called into action twice to make crucial saves, the Wanderers finished 3-2 winners.
Up next for the Wanderers is their final pre-season match against St George on Sunday 28 February before the season proper kicks-off on Sunday 6 March against Spirit FC.
Sydney United 58: 2
Western Sydney Wanderers: 3 (Mario Shabow 38’ Lachlan Scott 60’ Tariq Maia 80’)
Western Sydney Wanderers XI: Matt Symes (GK), Lachlan Roberts (Daniel Alessi 76’), Abdulrahman Kuku (Josh Gaspari 81’), Shayne D’Cunha, Mathieu Cordier (Jackson Bandiera 61’), Keanu Baccus, Cameron Devlin, Mario Shabow (Tariq Maia 76’), Josh Macdonald (Alusine Fofanah 76’), Brenton Fox (Kyle Cimenti 46’), Lachlan Scott
U20s: Sydney United 58 1-5 Western Sydney Wanderers