Feels good doesn’t it? It was a much deserved and a much needed three points as Dario Vidosic’s first goal for the Wanderers sealed a 1-0 home win over Perth Glory.
Here’s what we saw.
Dario a match-winner
Tony Popovic has made a point of slowly nursing Vidosic into full match fitness rather than throwing him in undercooked but last night the number 10 showed that he’s more than ready for a starting (and starring) role.
The marquee man exploded on his first start for the club, his movement and nifty ball-control causing former Wanderer Antony Golec all sorts of problems on the right-flank.
Together with Mitch Nichols, Vidosic was at the heart of every purposeful foray into Glory territory and it was no surprise when he broke the deadlock on the stroke of half-time.
Picking up Alberto’s lay-off, Vidosic shimmied to the right, making space for himself in a crowded box before cutting a sweet right-footed strike back across Ante Covic’s goal.
Celebration aficionados would also have been impressed with his perfectly timed knee slide – the attacker showing great poise and awareness to use the wet-weather and slick surface to his advantage.
Defence the key
One of the more pleasing aspects of last night’s victory was the fact that it marked our first clean sheet in 16 matches.
Our wealth of possession and ability to breakdown attacks swiftly ensured that our opponents were limited to quarter-chances – Perth didn’t have a single shot on target all match.
As a team traditionally heralded for our defensive might, it’s encouraging to see we’re taking baby steps towards regaining that reputation.
A large part of that has been the addition of centre-back Alberto, who put in another solid shift before he left the field on the hour mark with an injury that doesn’t appear to be anything serious.
“He felt his quad was a bit tight at half time. The quick summary from the doctor is he could be okay for the weekend,” Popovic said after the match.
“He just felt real tightness and he was concerned he couldn’t contribute by staying out there.”
Vidosic is one man who’ll be keeping his fingers crossed for Alberto – the goal-scorer took to Twitter to thank the Spaniard for his assist.
Any neutral onlooker would agree that although pickings have been slim in the opening rounds of the season, we’ve been playing the sort of football that warrants results.
Which is why last night’s victory proved to be all the much sweeter.
“Finally the players get a tangible reward for everything that they’ve been doing,” said Popovic.
“Now we’ve just got to build on that. I’m sure with the quality we have we’ll keep getting better.”
In the opposite dugout, Perth coach Kenny Lowe also shared the same sentiments.
“They play some great stuff don’t they?” said Lowe post-game.
“They played some really, really good football and they’ve got some excellent players.”
Guess who’s back?
Aside from Dario’s goal, the biggest cheer on the night was reserved for a certain fan favourite’s return to action.
Brendon Santalab entered the field on the 79th minute to a rapturous reception from the crowd at Wanderland and the striker immediately displayed his trademark heart and determination.
In attempting to get on the end of a Scott Jamieson cross he had no right to go for, Santa went crashing against the upright, no doubt causing a bit of panic on the Wanderers bench.
“That’s Santa isn’t it? He’s just all out, 100% – that’s him in a nutshell,” said a relieved Tony Popovic after the match.
“Thankfully for us, the post came off worse.”
With Mark Bridge again getting minutes off the bench, and Golgol Mebrahtu and Shannon Cole making inroads on their injury rehab, we’re edging closer and closer to that fabled fully fit squad.
Bring on Newcastle away.