A dominant second half display by Western Sydney saw Nikolai Topor-Stanley score his first goal for the club and Labinot Haliti cap his 100th A-League game with a tap-in to secure a 6 point gap over 5th place as Wellington capitulated in the Kiwi capital this afternoon.
With Wellington relying on long balls and deep crosses, it was no surprise at the source of the next Wellington chance. Huysegems latched onto a deep cross from the left wing, stooped down with a diving header and made solid contact. It was not directed well however and went out for a goal kick. Western Sydney allowed Wellington to pass the ball around their back four before putting pressure by driving them backward toward goal. The high pressing nearly paid dividends when Labinot Haliti charged down a Mark Paston clearance. It could have fallen anywhere but unfortunately for the Wanderers it went far away from goal.
Huysegems was close to scoring the opening goal completely against the run of play. Louis Fenton ran at the defence before laying off a pass toward Huysegems. With a measured stroke he launched a pile driver that had Ante Covic beaten but cracked the crossbar and ballooned into the air. The clearance fell for another long shot by Wellington but Nikolai Topor-Stanley blocked it. The ball eventually fell out for a goal kick. Western Sydney piled on the pressure before halftime with numerous corners but as they have all season their set piece work had no end result. Vince Lia had his very long ranged effort saved by a full length dive from Covic and the two teams went into the break at 0-0.
Wellington began to fight back, Dani Sanchez sparking a melee in central midfield after kicking out at Aaron Mooy. Captain Beauchamp stood up for his young charge by telling Sanchez off. A half-dozen players streamed into shouting range of each other but the two main combatants were quickly separated by Lia and Bridge and Sanchez was shown a yellow card. Mooy continued to take control of the match, a much improved performance from the first half. He drew a yellow card challenge on Vince Lia and was the architect of the first Wanderers goal for Topor-Stanley.
With 70 minutes on the clock the Wellington defence failed to clear their lines, it fell to Mooy who spun his marker and delivered a pinpoint cross to the centre of the penalty box. Topor-Stanley stayed forward and made a great run, getting in front Ben Sigmund before Topor stooped low to connect with a diving header that Paston got a hand to but couldn't keep out. The goal was just reward for both the Wanderers in the match and for Topor-Stanley who has been a colossus this season for Western Sydney. Tony Popovic gave Mooy a well earned rest, bringing on the substitute Shinji Ono for the last 15 minutes of the match.
Wellington were impotent in the half, not having a single shot on target and only two very early shots off target. As Wellington pushed forward hoping to get back into the match it left a huge gap in their defence. On the counter attack Mark Bridge found an unmarked Ono, instead of shooting first time he took a touch that was poor and somehow tangled the ball beneath his feet. After the previous weeks of spectacular scoring it was an aberration but at 2-0 up with minutes to play the Japanese international could see the funny side of things. The final whistle fell and all but the four travelling Wanderers supporters in the crowd of 6,608 would go home disappointed.
The Wanderers next match is against Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane, on Sunday the 20th of January at 5:00pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time.