The Western Sydney Wanderers have continued to surge in the relegation battle, securing a second-straight win and a season sweep of arch-rivals Sydney FC with a 2-1 win at Fairfield Showground on Sunday afternoon.
With a win in their last match-up and five goals scored the week before, Western Sydney had every reason to be confident against a youthful sky blue outfit.
After a dominant first half showing the hosts got on the board moments before the halftime break as Mark Younis picked out Alexander Badolato who buried his headed effort.
A red card in quick succession for either side blew the game wide open with both teams having periods of dominance and the lion’s share of attacking chances throughout the second half.
Western Sydney doubled its lead in the 72nd minute as Zac Sapsford came back to haunt his old side, finishing off a brilliant setup play from Younis.
Sydney FC found a second wind in the final ten minutes when Louis Agosti opened the scoring, leading to a late barrage of attacks from the visitors.
The Wanderers’ defence held strong throughout and crucially denied several chances to hold out for the much-needed win.
It was a very timid start to the game from the hosts, who were happy to hold possessions and pick their chances in attack, whilst Sydney looked to pounce on the counterattack.
Western Sydney had the first chance of the game in the 8th minute when Alexander Badolato played it across to Marcus Younis who had his shot held up by some strong defending from Sydney.
The hosts continued to ask the question of the Sydney defence, coming agonisingly to opening the scoring on two occasions.
Younis had his close-range effort heroically stopped by Adam Pavlesic before Zac Sapsford hit the post on what was a golden opportunity from the six-yard box.
After almost conceding to a former player, the Sky Blues clicked into gear in attack and came closest with a piercing effort from Hayden Matthews that was pushed away by Jack Gibson.
With an arm wrestle ensuing in attack, it was Western Sydney that nearly struck again when Younis had his header cleared off the line by Wataru Kamijo.
The Wanderers didn’t have to wait much longer for the opener as Younis brilliantly picked out the head of Badolato, who neatly placed his effort in the side netting for his side’s first of the day.
It was a deserved opening goal for the Wanderers and one that would give them an advantage heading into the break.
Sydney FC was dealt a massive blow in the opening stages of the second half after Cameron Fong was shown a second yellow card for bringing Sapsford close to the box.
The hosts’ advantage was short-lived as Aidan Simmons was given his marching orders after receiving two yellow cards within seven minutes.
With Sydney FC needing a spark off the bench, Jimmy Van Weeren went to Jacob Brazete, who made an immediate impact on the intensity of his side’s attack.
Brazete forced Gibson into action twice within a matter of moments, before almost deflecting a clearance from the Wanderers’ goalkeeper back into his own net.
The close call saw the hosts find their best form back in attack as both Sapsford and Younis had consecutive shots at a near open net denied by a desperate sea of sky blue defenders.
Western Sydney cracked their opponents’ defence for a second time after another bit of stellar play for Younis setup up Sapsford with an open back half of the net to aim in and score against his former side.
With the game slipping out of reach, the sky blues struck back after Agosti finished off Fryer’s effort that smacked against the post.
The final ten minutes saw all the momentum shift to the visitors with a flurry of attacking chances forcing the Wanderers’ defence into survival mode.
Western Sydney’s defence stood tall amongst the adversity and denied several chances in the final moments of the game to hold on for a second straight win.
After inching closer to safety in 2023, Wanderers coach Andrew Christiansen didn’t hide his happiness in both beating a rival club and continuing to stay alive in the fight for relegation.
“It was a tough game, I’m very happy with the result, happy to get two wins against Sydney this year, home and away but more importantly three points to help us achieve our goal of staying in the league, that’s the biggest thing for us,” he said.
“That was the focus today, so yes, (I’m) relieved… the boys know where they’re at and they know what this game means, to do it (win) was important but more importantly the three points on the table is important for us to stay in the league.”
Sydney FC coach Jimmy van Weeren conceded his side had a disappointing showing in the first half but saw the positives in the late comeback.
“It was a fair result, especially in the first half they were the dominant team and you could see they were a lot older than us but for us, that’s no excuse they were the better team and we have to learn from that,” he said.
“That showed the character of the group that we competed with ten men and created chances, the challenge for us is how we get that out consistently but there was some positive signs, especially in the second half.
The victory for the Wanderers has seen them jump four points ahead of second last placed Mt Druitt Town Rangers who face a must win match on Tuesday when they travel to Seymour Shaw to take on the Sutherland Sharks.
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Badolato 43’, Sapsford 72’
Sydney FC 1 (Agosti 79’)
Sunday 6th August 2023
Fairfield Showground, Prairiewood
Referee: Nick Gela
Assistant Referees: James Makris and Roberto Mattei
Fourth Official: Thomas Dale
Western Sydney Wanderers FC: 1. Jack Gibson, 2. Anthony Pantazopoulos, 4. Teng Kuol, 6. Oscar Priestman (21. Adam Bugarija 77’), 7. Jarrod Carluccio, 9. Nathaniel Blair (25. Ryley Hollingdale 64’) 10. Alexander Badolato, 11. Zac Sapsford (3. Joshua Hogg 73’), 13. Marcus Younis, 14. George Antonis, 31. Aidan Simmons
Unused subs: 20. William Lucas, 16. Thomas Lopez, 29. Edmun Haddad.
Yellow cards: Simmons 55’, 63’
Red cards: nil
Sydney FC: 30. Adam Pavlesic, 2. Cameron Fong, 4. Aden Green, 13. Hayden Matthews, 14. Ayouk Mow (36. Jacob Brazete 45’), 15. Dylan Rose (12. Lachlan Middleton 59’), 21. Louis Agosti, 26. Jacob McLachlan (34. Max Buratto 64’), 27. Wataru Kamijo, 32. Oscar Fryer, 37. Bailey Callaghan (18. Joseph Lacey 72’)
Substitutes not used: 40. Alexander Zaverdinos, 24. Jared Middleton,
Yellow cards: Fryer 23’, Frong 32’, 47’
Red cards: nil
3: Marcus Younis (WSW)
2: Anthony Pantazopoulos (WSW)
1: Jacob Brazete (SFC)
By NPL NSW Men’s Reporter Dominic Criniti @DominicCriniti