Western Sydney put one hand on the A-League Premiers Plate with a 2-1 victory over Wellington Phoenix on Sunday.
A pair of penalties early in each half from Shinji Ono and Mark Bridge proved enough to see off a spirited showing from the league’s bottom side, and put the Wanderers five points clear on top of the table.
The Wanderers’ ninth consecutive victory is a record winning streak from the debutant A-League club, surpassing Melbourne Victory’s previous mark of eight.
With so much on the line it was little surprise that the Wanderers started with gusto and Phoenix goalkeeper Glen Moss had to be alert to deny Labinot Haliti after just five minutes.
The Wanderers were not to be denied, however, and took the lead just three minutes later.
Youssouf Hersi exchanged a couple of short passes with Haliti, with the former fouled by Tony Lochhead in the penalty area, and Parramatta Stadium hero Ono comfortably converted by sending Moss the wrong way.
With the Wanderers crowd in full voice, the Phoenix managed to score with their first attack of the match.
Leo Bertos latched onto a far post cross and his low ball into the danger area was turned in at close range by the in-form Jeremy Brockie.
With the scores locked at 1-1 at the break, the Wanderers made a great start to the second half although they literally enjoyed a helping hand from the Phoenix.
Vince Lia inexplicably handled a relatively harmless cross from the right and Bridge – who replaced Ono at the interval – comfortably converted with a carbon-copy of Ono’s earlier penalty.