Western Sydney Wanderers moved to the top of the ladder with a thrilling 1-0 win over Central Coast in an entertaining clash at Central Coast Stadium. In front of a sold out crowd, a Nicolai Muller strike seven minutes from time was the difference.
1. Wanderers youth policy paying off
The starting line-up for the Wanderers tonight had five youth products from the club’s academy. The standout was 18-year-old defender Mark Natta, who has been with the Red & Black since the age of 13.
On debut, the youngster had 99 touches, completed 90 passes at 88% accuracy, two clearances, three interceptions and two blocked shots.
He repelled wave after wave of Mariners attack. The physicality of the contest didn’t worry him and he stood up to be counted.
Add Thomas Aquilina, Tate Russell, Tass Mourdoukoutas and Keanu Baccus, the Wanderers years of pain may just prove to be worth it.
2. Mariners v Wanderers is spicy
Things on the field were fiery as the Mariners tried to bully the Wanderers. Former Mariner, Ziggy Gordon copped plenty of treatment while Matt Simon was just being Matt Simon. But in the crowd it was noticeable how both sets of fans were getting fiesty and wanted to gain bragging rights.
This was a throw back to the Wanderers foundation year when these teams clashed regularly to packed crowds. The Wanderers beat the Mariners in Gosford in 2012/13 during the regular season, but the Mariners won the grand final.
This NSW rivalry needs to get back to those good old days. It’s good for both clubs and indeed the A-League.
3. Mariners away day is a beauty
Central Coast play in easily the most picturesque stadium in the A-League. The trip up the coast is good fun too, beautiful golden beaches and restaurants can be enjoyed along with a football match.
Wanderers fans always mark this day in their diary and plenty were in attendance tonight, making plenty of noise within the Covid regulation limits.
While Covid has played havoc with travel for away fans, people should not forget what a special place Central Coast Stadium is. The sauce bottles add to the theatre.
But a friendly crowd and a decent leagues club across the road, along with those golden beaches, means a trip to see the Mariners away is a must for all fans.