Match of the Season Countdown #2


We count down the best matches of the 2013/14 season with our satisfying 2-0 Semi-Final victory over the Mariners match #2

With the season done and dusted (save for the small matter of a Champions League Quarter Final) we thought we would take you through the best matches of 2013/14.

Hyundai A-League Semi Final: Western Sydney Wanderers 2-0 Central Coast Mariners

What a night at Wanderland! The Wanderers 2-0 revenge victory over Grand Final rivals Central Coast was one of the most memorable wins in Red & Black history and a match certainly deserving of second place in our countdown for matches of the season.

After making the Grand Final in our maiden season the only roadblock for a second consecutive appearance was a familiar one. Reigning Champions Central Coast Mariners.

Despite beating the Mariners to second place on the final day of the season our recent Round 25 loss to the Mariners and last year-s Grand Final were certainly fresh in everyone-s minds – making it more than just a semi-final, it was well and truly the stage for Wanderers revenge.

While Central Coast had complained of a brutal match schedule coming into the fixture there were equal fears for the Wanderers momentum following a week off from Hyundai A-League football. Any Red & Black concerns however were soon forgotten as the side began to dominate the visitors virtually from the blow of referee Kris Griffiths-Jones- whistle.

Responding to the roar of nearly 20,000 fans the Wanderers mounted attack after attack relentlessly pressuring the Mariners defence and forcing Liam Reddy to desperate saves in goal.

Western Sydney looked certain to benefit from their impressive attacking mindset when Nikolai Topor-Stanley rose to meet a typically stylish Shinji Ono free kick.

Topor-Stanley beating everyone and taking Reddy completely by surprise bounded a strong close range header towards goal only to be denied by the cross bar as the ball ricocheted upwards and out of play.

Encouraged by the vice-captain-s efforts Wanderland erupted. The crowd knew a goal was imminent.

Sure enough just minutes later everyone in Red & Black had their just rewards as Youssouf Hersi slid the ball into the back of the net on the 31st minute.

Finding himself on the end of a long ball launched down field Brendon Santalab danced around the side of the penalty area before setting up Mark Bridge for a brilliant first time shot that rocketed into an unsuspecting Reddy who could only parry the ball back into the penalty area.

Santalab again in possession made the most of Reddy-s slow recovery gliding the ball across goals to the back post where a sprinting Youssouf Hersi slid himself and the ball into goals.

The goal was more than deserved for Hersi who had been working tirelessly throughout the first half, later commenting he felt it was his gift to Wanderers fans after missing last year-s Grand Final through suspension.

Western Sydney unwilling to rely on a lone goal lead continued to push forward creating a host of chances in the Mariners box while at the other end of the pitch Ante Covic was barely troubled by Central Coast-s attack.

After wave upon wave of promising moves the Wanderers fans were finally given another goal to cheer for deep in the second half.

Youssouf Hersi, again key in Western Sydney-s attack, looked up to find Iacopo La Rocca surging forward, Hersi threaded him a sublime defence splitting ball and La Rocca was through and on goal. Remaining completely calm and collected La Rocca took a few touches to pull Reddy off his line before slipping the ball through his legs and into the open goal.

With the noise reverberating through Pirtek Staidum- Wanderland was in a state of ecstasy.

La Rocca had just about sealed the Western Sydney-s second consecutive Grand Final and against none other than the Central Coast.

With only nine minutes to go the Wanderers game lifted taking the Mariners well and truly out of the contest and sailing through to the final whistle with Ante Covic-s goal untouched.

Through typical Western Sydney determination form Youssouf Hersi and the classy touch of a more than deserving Iacopo La Rocca the Wanderers had inflicted revenge on the Mariners and added another golden memory to our Club-s rich history.