Nichols, Santalab fire in convincing Wanderers win
The Western Sydney Wanderers have defeated the Central Coast Mariners 4-1 taking them to the top of the table in what was their final ever game at Pirtek Stadium.
Romeo Castelen scored the game’s first goal in the 8th minute, with Luis Garcia equalizing in the 21st minute. A brace to Brendan Santalab and a late goal for Mitch Nichols handed Western Sydney the three points.
Tony Popovic made four changes to the Wanderers’ starting lineup with Brendan Santalab, Romeo Castelen and Kearyn Baccus replacing Jaushua Sotirio, Dario Vidosic and Dimas Delgado. Goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne was also promoted to the starting side in place of former-Mariner Liam Reddy.
The Mariners made two alterations to their starting eleven with Francesco Stella replacing Fabio Ferreira and keeper Adam Pearce making his A-League debut with Paul Izzo omitted from the squad.
It took the home side only eight minutes to open the scoring after Kearyn Baccus set up Romeo Castelen who fired a long-range bullet into the back of the net from outside of the box for his fourth goal of the season.
The Wanderers continued to create chances and dominate possession, but it was Mariners who scored next in the 21st minute through their marquee-man Luis Garcia. The Spaniard latched onto a cross from Mitch Austin and sent a well-taken diving header past Redmayne to level the scores.
Mitch Nichols had a great chance to score in the 34th minute after he performed an excellent turn to break into the goal box, but Adam Pearce blocked his shot on goal.
Western Sydney Wanderers found their second goal of the game in the 36th minute through Brendan Santalab. Pearce did well to save Castelen’s initial shot, but he could do nothing about the follow-up as Santalab tapped the ball home from close-range.
Early into the second half, the Wanderers continued to boss the game and they scored a third goal in the 52nd minute once again via Brendan Santalab. Scott Neville delivered a cross for Santalab who headed the ball into the back of the net. The goal was Santalab’s fourth strike in total against the Mariners this season.
Shannon Cole, who came on for his first appearance of the season in the 69th minute, almost scored moments after coming on as he curled a shot towards goal, but it just drifted wide of the target.
Mariners’ striker Roy O’Donovan was high on confidence after scoring two goals against Adelaide last week and he got himself into a one-on-one situation with Redmayne in the 75th minute, but he sent his strike sailed way over the bar after receiving some timely pressure from Nikolai Topor-Stanley.
Fabio Ferreria came on as a substitute for the Central Coast and fired a fierce left-footed shot on goal from outside the box in the 79th minute, but his effort failed to dip down in time.
The Wanderers finally scored a fourth goal in the 83rd minute as Mark Bridge’s ball into the box was met by Mitch Nichols who came charging in to force the ball home.
Scott Jamieson had a free-kick opportunity in second-half stoppage-time, but his shot was skewed wide of goal.
Chris Beath blew the whistle for full-time with the 4-1 result taking the Wanderers to the top of the ladder.
Western Sydney conclude their campaign with a trip to New Zealand to face the Phoenix, while the Mariners wrap up their season with an F3 derby against the Newcastle Jets.
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