Wanderers sink Mariners to move joint top of the A-League

Western Sydney Wanderers moved joint top of the A-League and made it five straight victories as goals from Brendon Santalab and Mitch Nichols helped them to a 2-0 victory over Central Coast Mariners at Central Coast Stadium on Sunday.

Brendon Santalab

Brendon Santalab celebrates with Romeo Castelen after scoring for Western Sydney against the Mariners. (AAP) Source: AAP

With a total of 20 shots there was only three on target for the Wanderers and Santalab had to leap from the bench and settle the nerves with a calm finish in the 66th minute.

Mariners threw caution to the wind in the final 15 minutes and came close on two occasions but it was the visitors who stung yet again, as Nichols doubled their lead in stoppage time.

After a minute's applause for Joe Marston the Wanderers started the game at an intense pace.


Mariners Goalkeeper Paul Izzo was drawn off his line to make a clearance and almost saw the ball lofted back over his head as Nicholls’ lob fell narrowly wide.

Romeo Castelen threatened throughout and had a great chance to put the Wanderers ahead after 10 minutes as he shifted gears down the right wing before rattling the post with his shot. Four minutes later and the Dutchmen surged into the box yet again but his heavy touch was gobbled-up Izzo.

At the other end, Roy O’Donovan almost converted for the Mariners from close-range while captain Nick Montgomery had an edge of the box effort flash wide.

The pattern of play started to grow quieter as the half hour mark approached, although there was a roar on 30 minutes as a group of Wanderers fans continued the weekend’s protest against the FFA and marched out of Central Coast Stadium.

The best goalscoring opportunity of the first half came in the 37th minute as Wanderers’ skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley squandered a great chance at the back post as he headed over from Dario Vidosic’s cross.

In the second period, it was the home side who started the brighter with Anthony Caceres’ deflected shot forcing 'keeper Andrew Redmayne into a smart save.

Castelen continued to ghost through the Mariners back-line but as he moved closer on goal the winger’s composure completely deteriorated and his 64th minute strike flew wide.

Nonetheless, having been on the pitch for nine minutes, substitute Brendon Santalab showed his team-mate how it’s done as he stayed cool in the box and slotted the ball pas Izzo two minutes later.

Mariners looked to stage a comeback in the final 15 minutes as substitute Matthew Sim sparked a the hosts' attack into life and Redmayne was forced into a brilliant stop from O’Donovan in the 89th minute.

But the result was put beyond doubt in the 92nd minute with Nichols’ close-range finish.

The Wanderers' five match winning run was the best since their 10-game streak in 2012-2013.

It pleased coach Tony Popovic, but he was more impressed with his players' composure when Mark Bridge was injured in the pre-match warm-up and had to be replaced by Dario Vidosic.

"We deserved to win. We dominated from the start, and the scoreline should have been a lot bigger," he said.

"Romeo is disappointed he didn't put away those chances, especially in the first half. I think he would have killed the game off.

"But he's creating opportunities, as long as that keeps happening I know he'll score."

Mariners coach Tony Walsmley thought his side could have at least pulled level in the second half but lamented their lack of ball speed and the end product before the break.

"We played right on the edge in the first half," he said.

"It was on the edge of, I wouldn't say craziness, but we took a calculated gamble."

Western Sydney Wanderers 1 (Santalab 66)

Central Coast Mariners 0

Central Coast Stadium, 10,519 attendance

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4 min read
Published 29 November 2015 at 6:57pm
By Liam Curtis