Western Sydney Wanderers secure second on A-League ladder with 2-0 win over Wellington Phoenix

Close encounter: Vince Lia of the Phoenix and Mitch Nichols of the Wanderers compete for the ball. Photo: Hagen Hopkins Nice one: Wanderers players celebrate a goal from Brendon Santalab. Photo: Hagen Hopkins
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Farewell: Ben Sigmund of the Phoenix acknowledges the crowd after his final game. Photo: Hagen Hopkins

The Western Sydney Wanderers have secured second place on the A-League ladder with a 2-0 win over the Wellington Phoenix at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

It was an unhappy end to Ben Sigmund and Manny Muscat’s eight-year Wellington Phoenix careers as Brendon Santalab’s first-half brace helped the Wanderers claim the victory.

The Phoenix had the better of possession in the opening half, but it was the Wanderers who looked more dangerous going forward.

They were denied a penalty in the first four minutes when Phoenix left-back Tom Doyle took down Santalab from behind in the box, but referee Shaun Evans waved play on.

Michael McGlinchey came closest to scoring for the Phoenix in the half when his 25-yard curling effort rattled the woodwork in the 11th minute.

Wanderers keeper Andrew Redmayne produced a great save to deny Blake Powell in the 30th minute, as he tipped his shot over the bar with it destined for the top corner.

Sixty seconds later the Wanderers were down the other end to break the deadlock. The outstanding Romeo Castelen beat Alex Rodriguez down the right flank before squaring in the direction of Santalab.

The ball ricocheted between him and Sigmund before rolling across the line, with the Wanderer being credited with the goal.

The Wanderers then had a classy second with just 90 seconds left until halftime. Castelen skipped past Sigmund in the middle of the park with a silky smooth move and was off charging towards the Phoenix box before laying off to Santalab on the right, who applied a cool finish past Glen Moss.

The Phoenix produced some good football as well to make for an entertaining half, but poor finishing and final balls meant they went into halftime down 2-0.

The second half started evenly before Roly Bonevacia became the second Phoenix midfielder to hit the post, this time with a low shot which had Redmayne beaten to his right.

The Wanderers continued to look for opportunities on the counter, but for the most part seemed content to sit back and defend their lead. They almost had a third goal when Castelen sent a shot sailing past Moss, and the goal, with 15 minutes to go.

Sigmund ended his professional career bloodied after being caught by a stray elbow from Santalab. He returned with a bandage around his head in a dedicated performance typical of the way he has played his entire career.

The Wanderers’ win guarantees them second spot on the ladder, while the Phoenix finish their miserable season in ninth.

On a positive note, 10,143 people – including a vocal pocket of Wanderers fans – showed up for what was a meaningless game for the Phoenix, outside of farewelling the two club stalwarts. It was their second-highest home attendance of the season.

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.