Football 2 years ago

Nicholls drives WSW to win over Mariners

  • Nicholls drives WSW to win over Mariners

Western Sydney have extended their winning streak to five games thanks to a 2-0 defeat of Central Coast on Sunday.

Mitch Nicholls set up Brendon Santalab's opener and slotted the second to lift the Wanderers to second place on the A-League table and on equal points with leaders Melbourne Victory.

The clash at Central Coast Stadium was the first the side have won at the Gosford venue since their inaugural season in 2012/13.

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This encounter will perhaps be remembered more for the Red and Black Bloc supporter group's first-half walkout, but for those of the 10,519 crowd that remained, it was attacking football at its frenetic best.

And Tony Popovic's men were a class above.

They very nearly opened their account in a frenzied first few minutes when Nicholls miskicked a long-ranged shot wide of an open goal while Mariners custodian Paul Izzo was caught way off his line.

Seven minutes later the playmaker almost atoned, bulging the back of the net before being ruled offside.

The returning Romeo Castelen kept the momentum flowing by rattling the post, the ball almost comically rebounding and sailing straight into Izzo's outstretched arms.

Castelen was a rampant force down the right flank as the Mariners' back line toiled, but he undermined his own efforts by missing a swag of chances.

In the end it was super sub Santalab who made good in the 66th minute, on his first shot and less than 10 minutes after his introduction.

Nicholls set the goal up gorgeously with a dink down the middle for the onrushing striker, who fought off a yellow-shirted defender before making no mistake against Izzo.

The Mariners took back a little of the possession they lost in the first half and made some bold moves on the counter-attack, including one late on when Irish striker Roy O'Donovan was denied by Wanderers keeper Andrew Redmayne in extra-time.

But a bare moment passed before Nicholls cemented the result, latching onto a Joshua Sotirio through ball to fire home.

The Wanderers' five match winning run was the best since their 10-game streak in 2012/13.

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