Wanderers star rues season of missed chances

Wanderers playmaker Mitch Nichols admits a sense of frustration that their Hyundai A-League Premiership hopes are out of their control this weekend.

Sitting third on the table heading into a blockbuster final round of the season, the Wanderers are relying on other results to go their way before they take on the Phoenix in Wellington on Sunday.


Wanderers need Brisbane Roar and Adelaide to lose or draw and then take maximum points themselves to finish at the competition’s summit by the end of the weekend. 

But Nichols feels it shouldn’t have got to this situation for the Red and Black, who have been near the top most of the season and were first just two weeks ago before losing to Melbourne Victory.

“We’ve had a good year but we probably just let a couple of chances slip when we probably needed to stand up,” Nichols told reporters on Thursday.

“That’s probably a little bit disappointing. It’s done now, we just have to get on with it and get three points against Wellington and set ourselves up for the finals.

“It’s going to be an interesting weekend,” he added. “It’s out of our hands, we just have to win our game and go from there.”

Mitch Nichols and Mark Bridge celebrate combining for the Wanderers' fourth goal against the Mariners.

On paper, Sunday’s clash against Wellington – who are ninth and with little to play for – shouldn’t possess too much of an obstacle for Tony Popovic’s side.

But Phoenix has had the wood on Western Sydney of late, winning three of the last six games between the two clubs, including a 5-2 drubbing at Wanderland in February.

"They're a very good team. I expected them to be top four at the start of the year,” Wanderers defender Scott Jamieson said of Wellington.

"For whatever reason they've had different results, but I rate Roly Bonevacia as one of the top five players in the league."

Roly Bonevacia celebrates after scoring against the Reds.

While their finals spot is secured regardless of Sunday’s result, Jamieson says there’s been no let-up in training from Popovic.

“This club is so well drilled by the boss that if you start turning on when you want to train well or keep your intensity up, you’re with the youth team or the fitness coach,” he said.

“The intensity is just as high as ever. Some people like to bull***t and say ‘this week has been really tough because the finals are coming up' but it’s been the same here all the time.

“This boss [Popovic] is someone that has a knack of knowing who is taking it easy and whose not.”