The Western Sydney Wanderers overcame an early Brisbane goal to record a comfortable 4-1 win against the Roar tonight.
Pre-game the big point of discussion was the complete absence of Wanderers marquee attacking midfielder Alexander Baumjohann. Manager Markus Babbel spoke prior to the match and put the exclusion down to a lack of effort in training during the week. 7 minutes into the game and it looked like he might have made the wrong call, as Brisbane Roar took the lead with a wonderful strike by Dylan Wenzel-Halls. The solo effort saw him cut inside the Wanderers erstwhile fullback Bruce Kamau, and curl it over the head of Tass Mourdoukoutas and past the full length dive of Vedran Janjetovic.
Mitch Duke made his starting debut and paid back the faith by pulling the score back level in the 15th minute. Duke lined up a shot from a long way out and having been invited to shoot by the lack of pressure, he squeezed the ball under Jamie Young. The keeper would have been unhappy at letting the ball bounce under his arm.
Oriol Riera then continued his second half of the season resurgence by picking up what could be his best goal in the Red & Black. Roly Bonevacia fired a cross from deep on the right wing that had too much curl and began heading behind Riera. Despite the difficulty of the chance, Riera ran onto and hooked a volley from just inside the penalty area that Jamie Young could only get a fingertip that barely deflected the ball's flight into the back of the net.
The marquee striker had his double 6 minutes before half-time after a lengthy intervention by the VAR. Bonevacia crossed into the middle from the other side this time around, it found a flick-on at the near post that was turned home by Riera, only for the linesman to flag Riera for an offside offence. Replays and the VAR eventually determined that it clearly came off the head of ex-Wanderer turned Roar central defender Jacob Pepper and the goal was given. The 3-1 scoreline was a clear reflection of the flow of the match with the Roar well off the pace, chasing shadows in midfield and barely creating any chances after their goal.
The second half was a better one for the Roar but one that ultimately did not see them pick up another goal. Giancarlo Gallifuoco made his debut for the Wanderers as a late sub in the 80th minute, but by the time he and fellow substitutes Mark Bridge and Kwame Yeboah had taken to the rythym of the match the Roar had run out of petrol. It was Yeboah who came closest to scoring in regulation time as he smashed a close range but acute angled shot into the crossbar.
Finally Roly Bonevacia had the goal his game deserved, as Roar fullback Daniel Leck got his wires crossed when facing towards his own goal, losing control to Tarek Elrich, who quickly passed through to Bonevacia, he took one touched that sent him clear into the 18 yard box and he fired his second touch past a stranded Jamie Young.
The 4-1 scoreline was as good as the Wanderers deserved, and with the dropping of Baumjohann, it appears that Babbel's mantra for a new mentality has finally coalesced into meaningful action on the field. His side are unbeaten in 4 games with 3 wins and 1 draw, and while a finals berth is still quite unlikely, their position on the ladder is looking far better than Brisbane's, who drop to 5 points behind the Wanderers and are already looking for next season.
The Wanderers play Wellington Phoenix next Sunday the 17th of March at Westpac Stadium in Wellington.