NPL 1 Preview: Wanderers v Mariners

It’s a return home and a must win game for the Western Sydney Wanderers NPL side, as they host fellow academy side Central Coast Mariners this Saturday.

Despite fighting valiantly in their last two matches with depleted playing stocks, the Wanderers have come up empty handed in both, and will need to start collecting crucial points as we cross the halfway point in the season.

They will be given a huge boost with the return of key attackers Zac Sapsford and Ariath Piol from suspension. Sapsford in particular was on a hot run of form, having scored three goals in his two matches before suspension.

Two of those goals came in the side’s last win over Manly United at the end of April, and his absence has been felt at the top of the pitch.

In their last round defeat against NWS Spirit, Aidan Simmons and Marcus Younis combined well down the right, with the latter being unlucky not to score with a couple of chances.

Younis scored a wonderful goal the last time these sides met in the opening round and he could be the difference maker once again.

In that clash, the Wanderers blew away their opponents with three goals in four first half minutes; with Piol and Teng Kuol also getting on the scoresheet alongside Younis’ solo effort. It meant that a James Bayliss goal midway through the first half was merely a consolation.

They will need their attack to have a similar performance; despite the Wanderers defence showing improvements in recent weeks, their attack is yet to rediscover the free-scoring form of the start of the season where they scored 10 goals in the opening four games.

It will be a stern test against a Mariners side unbeaten in their last five outings and having won their last three matches. These include defeating three of the top four sides in Rockdale Ilinden, Sydney United and Marconi respectively.