Promising talents make A-Leagues debut

The Wanderers’ first win of the season was special for more reasons than one.

Not only did their 5-0 win over Western United see the team secure their equal biggest A-League win in history, as well as scoring a record five goals in the first half, it also saw three promising young talents make their A-League Men’s debuts off the bench.

Anthony Pantazopoulos, Dylan Scicluna, and Oscar Priestman were all given their first A-League minutes by coach Marko Rudan in the second half of Saturday’s dominant win, with the three offseason recruits all given the chance to play in front of the passionate Wanderers supporters for the first time.

Pantazopoulos and Scicluna were the first to enter the fray, as they came on in the 78th minute in place of captain Marcelo and Jack Clisby respectively.

Despite the game being secure, it’s never an easy task to deputise for Marcelo in your first A-League action, but Pantazopoulos equipped himself well alongside Tom Beadling, putting in an assured cameo and helping preserve the sides second clean sheet on the bounce.

Pantazopoulos, who joined from Oakleigh Cannons in Victoria, is a highly rated defender and helped the Wanderers’ NPL NSW side avoid relegation thanks to his performances at the back as a mid-season signing.

The young defender was thankful for the support he has received on his journey to the Wanderers.

“(I feel) really good, obviously, a lot of years of hard work, but (the) support I had from everyone around me has made it possible, and I couldn’t be happier right now.

I found myself just looking, daydreaming, thinking ‘wow! This is the team I play for’. It was amazing.”

Scicluna – in his first ever appearance in Red and Black – showed flashes of dynamism and quality at left back despite primarily being a midfielder.

The former Wolverhampton Wanderers youth product also showed ability with the long ball, and the 19-year-old couldn’t hide his excitement post-match after making his professional bow.

“Unbelievable! It was a great team performance. I’ve been working personally very hard for this opportunity and to get in such an amazing performance and win… was just unbelievable, I’m absolutely delighted.”

He was also extremely happy to be able to play in front of the Red and Black Bloc for the first time, and had nothing but praise for the Wanderers support on Saturday night.

“We got the best fans in the league, I’ve never seen fans like this, (they’re) through thick and thin, they’re amazing.”

The final debut of the night came in the 86th minute, when Priestman replaced star midfielder Jorrit Hendrix.

It was a relatively quiet first up performance for Priestman, but he still completed all eleven of his passes and won two duels in the dying embers of the game.

For Priestman, the minutes he received against Western United will serve as a building block for the rest of the season.

“It was amazing, it was a really good game to debut in. [It was] a great effort from the boys, (I’m) stoked.

Hopefully (I) just build on that, work hard, get some more minutes hopefully, and keep building.”

Priestman joined from the club’s crosstown rivals in the offseason; despite being captain of their NPL NSW side, he decided his development would be better served in Western Sydney, and he has been impressive for the Wanderers in both the NPL NSW competition, and the Australia Cup, where he made three appearances off the bench.

The trio of exciting youngsters are just some examples of the exciting youth talent coming through the ranks at the club, which also includes Marcus Younis, Alex Badolato and Aidan Simmons to name but a few, and fans will be hoping the only way is up for the young Wanderers.