Football 3 years ago

Nichols stunner powers Wanderers to top

  • Nichols stunner powers Wanderers to top

For all the talk of the Spanish armada taking over Western Sydney, it's actually the White Lightning who's been striking in front of goal.

Reborn midfielder Mitch Nichols - dubbed White Lightning by his teammates - has easily been the Wanderers' best this A-League season, leading the team with four goals.

But as the crux of almost every single attacking surge, skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley says Nichols is much more than an easy avenue to the back of the net.

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"He's an extremely important player for us," he said ahead of Saturday night's clash against Brisbane.

"He's shown what he can do in the A-League over the past few years. I think his problem was finding consistency, and now he's found that."

An integral member of the Brisbane Roar dynasty between 2010-13, Nichols fell off the soccer radar following an ill-fated move to Japan last year.

A fresh start in Sydney's west beckoned and, judging by his team-high 16 shots on goal in eight games, the 26-year-old is enjoying life under coach Tony Popovic.

The Wanderers' mentor believes Nichols has simply grown up.

"I think he's just evolving as a player, but also as a person. He's a lot more mature now," Popovic said.

"He knows what he wants in his football, he's more settled off the field and that's showing in his performances."

Having already slotted a goal against his former club in the season-opener, the Southport product gets another date with the ex on Saturday night.

Personal revenge may not be on the agenda again, but an opportunity to compensate for that 3-1 loss in round one certainly will be.

"I felt we put a good performance in but we made a few mistakes and they punished us for it. They've got the players to do that," Topor-Stanley said.

A win would pit the second-placed Wanderers against competition leaders and defending champions Melbourne Victory in a tantalising match-up next weekend.

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