The Western Sydney Wanders have secured the A-league Premiership in their inaugural season following a dominant 3-0 win over the Newcastle Jets in Newcastle. A Mark Bridge brace and a Rocky Visconte thunderbolt securing 1st place at the end of the A-League Regular season.
The Wanderers have finished their first season in the A-League in 1st place, with 18 wins, 3 draws and 6 losses after 27 games, a goal difference of +20 and a total point tally of 57. Needing just a draw to secure the title the Wanderers took all three points & the Premiership in assertive fashion. Manager Tony Popovic sprung a surprise with his selection, 19 year old Yianni Perkatis making his A-League & Western Sydney Wanderers debut in place of Jason Trifiro who was fatigued after playing a full 90 minutes in the previous weeks fixture.
In front of the 10,000 travelling supporters who invaded Newcastle, the Wanderers title triumph was on track from the 5th minute. Tarek Elrich's diagonal cross found Labinot Haliti, who stretched well to knock the ball across the face of goal. Dino Kresinger craftily dummied to confuse Newcastle keeper Mark Birighitti, Mark Bridge benefiting to tap into an open net from point blank range to score his 10th goal of the season.
With Newcastle having very little of note in attack, Western Sydney double their advantage with half an hour played. Nikolai Topor-Stanley as he's always been this season was in perfect position to clear, an acrobatic over the shoulder effort that flew over half-way. The ball fell fortuitously toward Kresinger who towered over his marker to flick the ball past the last line of defence into the path of Bridge who made a perfectly timed run. With front position over the final Jets defender he only had to beat the keeper, it wasn't the prettiest effort but it dribbled over the top of Birighitti and Bridge shielded the ball as it fell over the line.
Emile Heskey did little of note in the first half, his only major impact being knocking Ante Covic over as the keeper grabbed a ball in the air, Heskey received a yellow card for the woeful challenge and was lucky to escape a second for dissent.
Newcastle came out in the second half playing in a formation with 3 at the back, allowing more numbers in attack. The Jets slowly reclaimed the momentum of the match. Adam Taggart had the best of the Newcastle chances, a Topor-Stanley and Heskey challenge resulted in the ball floating over the last line of defense for Western Sydney. Taggart used his pace and steeled himself for a first time volley from the edge of the area. The shot beat Covic but was slightly off target, hitting the post and rebounding away.
After suffocating the Newcastle challenge, Western Sydney took complete control of the match. Bridge ran past the Jets defence to run onto a flick on from Kresinger, he chested the ball down but his half-volley flashed wide. The miss didn't cost the Wanderers at all. On 79 minutes Jason Trifiro hit an accurate corner out to Rocky Visconte on the edge of the area. The first touch of Visconte put the ball out in front of his stride, the second setup a shot on his left, and the third touch was missile strike that left Birighitti with no chance despite his full length dive.
Even at 3-0 up Western Sydney refused to take their feet off the throats of Newcastle. Bridge should have completed his hat-trick during injury time. Ruben Zadkovich who had been completely ineffective with several wasteful and overly ambitious long shots, left his keeper out to dry with a horrible back pass. Kubi closed down Birighitti, the keeper managed to beat the onrushing attacker but could clear the ball only as far as Bridge who lined up a first time shot with the empty net gaping, only to see the ball agonisingly curve wide.
Shortly after the miss the referee blew the whistle to end the match and send the A-League premiership to Western Sydney in their inaugural season. The Wanderers will play a semi-final in two weeks in an attempt to make the 2012-13 A-League Grand Final. Winning the Premiership also guarantees that Western Sydney will play in the 2014 Asian Champions League with a direct entry into the Group Stage.
The Wanderers next match is the semi-final, against the lowest ranked winning team from the two preliminary final matches, at Parramatta Stadium on Friday the 12th of April at 7:30pm Eastern Daylight Savings Time.
Tickets to the Semi-Final go on sale to Wanderers members on Tuesday the 2nd of April at 9am, to the Football Family on the 3rd, to the General Public on the 4th through to the 7th, Away Supporters on the 8th and once more to the General Public from the 9th.