Nichols makes most of Wanderers freedom

Creative midfielder Mitch Nichols underlined his growing importance to the Western Sydney Wanderers team by scoring a stunning goal that shot his revitalised club to the top of the A-League table.

Mitch Nichols

Mitch Nichols, centre, celebrates his winning goal Source: AAP

Nichols played a peripheral role in the Wanderers' clash with Brisbane Roar and was unable to reproduce the blistering form that led some to suggest that he should be reconsidered for Australia duty.

Yet the 26-year-old sealed the Wanderers' 2-1 victory with a beautifully-struck shot that looked a goal the moment the ball left his right foot.

Nichols had scored a fortuitous goal the previous week in the Wanderers' 2-0 win at Central Coast Mariners when he miss-hit the ball from inside the penalty area and it trickled into the net to his complete surprise.

There was no such luck with his curling strike that floored Brisbane.

Goalkeeper Jamie Young threw himself in the air in a valiant bid to stop Nichols's audacious effort but some shots you just cannot save and this was one of them.

"I knew once I hit it that it was going in," Nichols said.

"I got the ball back off Jamo (Scott Jamieson) and had enough space to hit it and it was good to see it go in.

"The boss sometimes tells me to pass the ball instead of shoot from outside the box but I weighed the situation and had a go. It was a good track."

Nichols and the rest of the Wanderers team would have been relieved to come away with the three points from a very difficult encounter.

After an even first half Brisbane were probably the team more likely to score but, to their credit, the Wanderers kept their defensive shape right till the end and ended up winning thanks to Nichols's magic moment 11 minutes from time.

"It was a tough game, very interesting. Brisbane have quality and pushed us all the way," Nichols said.

"It was probably not our best performance of late and I have played better games but the win shows the character and determination of the boys. We took our chances."

Nichols burst onto the A-League scene for Queensland Roar in 2007 and helped Brisbane win two championships in 2011 and 2012 before moving to Melbourne Victory in 2013.

He is playing some of the best football of his career since returning to the A-League two seasons go after a brief stint in Japan for Cerezo Osaka in 2014.

He went on loan with Perth Glory in 2014-2015 but signed a two-year deal with the Wanderers in July and has not looked back.

He has a settled look about him, especially since coach Tony Popovic is quite happy to give him a degree of freedom to express himself, and his football is showing.

"I always enjoy my football," Nichols said.

"People are quick to make assumptions. I had a good pre-season and his are falling into place. I'm just happy to be at a club that plays a game that suits the way I play."

The Wanderers' credentials will be tested on Saturday when they face champions Melbourne Victory at Pirtek Stadium on Saturday.

The Wanderers lead Victory by three points but the latter have a game in hand.

Nichols acknowledged that the champions are still the team to beat but that does not mean they cannot beaten, as shown at the weekend when they crashed to a 2-0 defeat to Wellington Phoenix.

"Victory are a great side, they are the champions but we are up there and it up to us to prove it," Nichols said.

"Next weekend is going to be a great test but we are full of confidence at the moment and if we can play the kind of football we have played the lat few weeks there is no reason we cannot beat them."

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4 min read
Published 6 December 2015 at 9:38am
By Philip Micallef