Nichols downs Jets with late winner

The Wanderers have claimed back-to-back wins after coming from a goal down to take all three points at Hunter Stadium on Saturday afternoon. 

After a first-half that saw both sides spurn several chances, the game sprung to life midway through the second stanza when the home side took the lead in controversial circumstances.

The goal from Enver Alivodić was allowed to stand but a penalty from Andreu and a Mitch Nichols strike saw Tony Popovic’s men win on the road, moving them into the top six.

Newcastle made two changes from the side that stunned City last week with Leonardo returning from injury and Lachlan Jackson replacing an injured Daniel Mullen.

The Wanderers also made a change in central defence with teenager Jonathan Aspro partnering skipper Nikolai Topor-Stanley, who was making his 100th appearance in Red and Black.


1-0 Enver Alivodić (73’) – The Jets had a free kick in a dangerous position after Andreu was cautioned for a reckless foul. Defender Lee Ki-je stepped up, firing the deadball into the crossbar. Alivodić reacted quickest, poking the ball home. The linesman originally waved for off-side but after the officials conferred the goal was allowed to stand.

1-1 Andreu (79’) – The home side’s lead lasted all of six minutes after Miloš Trifunović was harshly judged to have fouled substitute Brendon Santalab in the box. Andreu stepped up to take the penalty, sending Mark Birighitti the wrong way to level the scores.

1-2 Nichols (86’) – The Wanderers sensationally took the lead when Mitch Nichols found a way past Birighitti from distance. The away side sent bodies forward in a dramatic climax, with the ball falling favourably to the Wanderers midfielder at the top of the box and he made no mistake with the finish.


Western Sydney had only managed one win in their last 16 away league games (D2 L13) but got all three points at Hunter Stadium – a ground at which they’ve never lost.


Newcastle Jets goalkeeper Mark Birighitti put on a clinic in the first-half, producing several top notch saves to maintain parity at the break. An acrobatic effort repelled a powerful Mitch Nichols shot after the Wanderers midfielder made an untracked run in behind the Jets defence. Minutes later Birighitti made another diving save to deny former teammate Scott Neville heading into his far post. The 24-year-old, who has only just returned from injury, was next bravely off his line to punch away a chance for Federico Piovaccari. The best stop came just before the break when the 24-year-old produced a fine reflex effort to deny Dario Vidosic from point-blank range.


Striving to finish the round on top of the table for just the second time in their history the Jets had a great chance to take an early lead through skipper Nigel Boogaard. With the game just three minutes old Alivodić whipped in a cross from the left that was met by a sliding boot from the Jets defender. Unfortunately for Newcastle fans the ball went just wide of the post with appeals for a penalty following a hint of both handball and a foul in the buildup waved away by referee Steven Lucas.


The Wanderers will feel they deserved the three points after creating the better chances in an entertaining affair at Hunter Stadium.

The opening two goals were both tinged in controversy with a hint of off-side for the Jets opener and the Wanderers lucky to be awarded what was a soft penalty.

There was no dispute about the winner with Mitch Nichols’ driving shot finding a way past Mark Birighitti who otherwise put in an excellent performance.


Newcastle Jets: Birighitti, Hoffman, Boogaard, Kantarovski (Watson 61’), Alivodic, Poljak, Trifunovic, Santiago, Lee, Jackson, Carney

Western Sydney Wanderers: Redmayne, Neville, Topor-Stanley, Aspro, Jamieson, Andreu, Dimas, Nichols, Vidosic (Bridge 55’), Sotirio (Castelen 78’), Piovaccari (Santalab 74’)

Scorers: Alivodić (73’), Andreu (79’ pen.), Nichols (86’)

Red cards: n/a

Yellow cards: Topor-Stanley (15’), Andreu (71’)

Conditions: 23°C; overcast

Attendance: 14,486 @ Hunter Stadium