Wanderers historic night built on self-belief

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They were already incorporated in law but it wasn’t until Western Sydney Wanderers defeated Brisbane Roar 1-0 in Brisbane on Saturday night that they finally became a football club.

Mark Bridge’s 19th minute goal delivered more than just the red-and-black hoop’s first competitive three points, it delivered the side their first taste of A-League legitimacy – a famous and unlikely victory.
Before kick-off, Roar were considered unbackable, short-priced favourites. Few truly thought Wanderers stood much chance on the defending champion’s home patch – few, that is, other than the out-of-towners themselves.
That unfancied self-belief has fast become the most endearing characteristic of the Western Sydney club. It even has the potential to define them.
Fairly or not, Wanderers have faced more criticism following their founding than any other expansion side in the A-League’s short history – critics focusing on the franchises’ short preparation time and patchwork playing roster.
Off the pitch Wanderers have progressed assuredly – the solid attendances in earlier rounds and general positivity of supporters and well-wishers borne from months of preseason community engagement.
Meanwhile, on the pitch, encouraging flashes of promise combined with a stoic defensive presence ensured the side was competitive if not particularly threatening in the opening three rounds.
It suggested that perhaps critics of the playing squad had been right before Saturday night’s result put paid to that argument.
Whether or not the wet conditions suited the visitors is moot. Western Sydney went out with a game plan to stifle Roar’s midfielders and not allow the home side to slip behind their line out wide.
It’s a familiar tune for visitors to Suncorp Stadium but Wanderers arguably executed the strategy better than any other team in the past twelve months.
They combined this defensive grit with a sharpness on the counter attack that had been missing in the first three rounds – surely a worrying development for usual starting striker Dino Kresinger who missed the historic fixture through injury.
In the end, the method only guilds the lily though. The result is what will ultimately matter most to Wanderers supporters and it takes up the least room in the history book.
Defeating the defending champions on their home turf for the club’s first ever win is a significant achievement and the fans have every right to revel boisterously in its afterglow.
I have little doubt that in the years to come many more than actually attended will claim to have been there for such an historic, possibly club-defining moment,
However, for the record, the away section could not have held more than twenty or so of the hooped faithful. And hopefully, for the sake of their small place in club history, their tickets didn’t fall apart in the rain.

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