The Western Sydney Wanderers succumbed to their first ever loss in the PS4 NPL as they went down to Bankstown City in a contest that could very well be match of the season.
With both teams heading into the match on maximum points and sharing the lead at the top of the table, there was an expectation of a classic battle and the crowd did not go home disappointed.
Adding to the intrigue, former Foundation Player and premiership captain Michael Beauchamp was taking on the Wanderers for the first time in his career.
The opening twenty minutes was a true ding-dong battle with both teams playing hard and looking for inroads but without any real chances.
Kyle Cimenti had the first serious opportunity when he had a sight on goal but as his leg swung back to strike, the ball bobbled into the air causing his shot to fly over the crossbar.
It was a miss to regret with Bankstown taking the lead shortly after following an unusual series of events. With the ball crossed from wide, a Wanderers defender attempted to head the ball clear but it deflected straight onto a Bankstown player and into goal.
Not to be disheartened, the Red & Black went straight onto the attack and could have equalised immediately after the kick-off.
Mario Shabow found himself in space for the Wanderers but took one touch too many and had to rush his finish with a defender closing in. The shot went over the bar.
Two minutes later and Shabow had another chance, driving the ball low from distance only to see it fly wide of the post.
Despite the pressure from Wanderers, Bankstown hadn’t stopped playing and they had enough time to force a world class save out of Matt Symes before the half time whistle blew.
It was the most difficult half of football the young Wanderers had ever encountered but they came into the second half looking like they were up to the test.
Applying pressure in the opening minutes of the half, another chance fell to Shabow but he got underneath the ball too much and it went over the bar.
A lucky escape for Bankstown but they made the Wanderers pay when they scored their second goal only five minutes later.
From that moment on it was a physical and heated affair, headlined by a sickly stomp to the chest of Alusine Fofanah as the midfielder lay on the ground by one of the Bankstown players. It was missed by the referees.
Fofanah responded in good fashion though and almost scored the goal of the season as he dribbled past four defenders before unleashing a drive just wide of the post.
The Red & Black did get one goal back as Shayne D’Cunha headed in from the far post before Lachlan Scott looked certain to score a 93rd minute equaliser before Bankstown’s keeper pulled off a very impressive save to win them the game.
It ended an incredible match of the highest quality: two teams going at each other at full pace for 90 minutes in a wonderful advertisement for the PS4 NPL2.
Next Saturday the Wanderers take on St George at Blacktown Football Park. First grade kick-off at 7pm.
Bankstown City 2
Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Shayne D’Cunha 89’)
Western Sydney Wanderers: Matthew Symes (GK), Jackson Bandieri, Shayne D’Cunha, Henry Davies (Cameron Devlin 59’), Mathieu Cordier (Daniel Alessi 46’), Keanu Baccus, Liam Youlley, Mario Shabow, Alusine Fofanah, Kyle Cimenti (Josh Macdonald 46’), Lachlan Scott
Unused substitutes: Daniel Axford (GK), Tariq Maia
U20s WSW 6-2 Bankstown City (Brenton Fox x3, Joshua Gaspari, Matthew Lecce, Moudi Najjar)
U18: WSW 4-1 Bankstown City (Brandon Robertson x2, Moudi Najjar, Oliver Puflett)
U16: WSW 2-1 Blacktown Spartans (Alex Lopez, Bailey Rule)
U15: WSW 3-0 Blacktown Spartans (Michael Osei-Adomako x2, Adrian Viggiani)
U14: Match abandoned due to injury
U13: WSW 1-0 Blacktown Spartans (Daniel Milicic)