CONFIDENT: Brendon Santalab and Mitch Nichols of the Wanderers pose  in Sydney yesterday.
CONFIDENT: Brendon Santalab and Mitch Nichols of the Wanderers pose in Sydney yesterday. Brendon Thorne

Roar a ‘little off’ in final, says Wanderers star

Western Sydney forward Brendon Santalab has fired the first shot in the war of words ahead of Sunday's A-League semi-final against Brisbane at Pirtek Stadium, labelling the Roar's performance last weekend as "mediocre".

The Roar looked well below its best for the most of the game in its 2-1 elimination final win against the Victory at Suncorp Stadium, losing out on total shots 16-9.

But late goals to Matt McKay (88th minute) and Thomas Broich (93rd minute) saw the hosts snatch a win in dramatic fashion, something they have made a habit of doing in finals matches.

Santalab saw chinks in Brisbane's armour, though.

"We can see that (victory) is very possible after their mediocre performance against the Melbourne Victory last game," he said.

"It was unlike Brisbane a little bit. A few of their players were a little off.

"But they showed the class they have by scoring two late goals once again."

Santalab, who has 10 goals this season and is his team's equal leading goal-scorer with former Roar star Mitch Nichols, says Sunday's game could once again be decided in the final few minutes.

Indeed, it was the men in orange who recorded a stunning 3-2 win over the Wanderers at Suncorp Stadium on March 4.

Western Sydney led that game 2-1 after 78 minutes, before goals to Jamie Maclaren and Dimitri Petratos inside the last 10 minutes saw the Roar run away with the three competition points.

"They've done that many times now and we know that if the game is tight in the last few minutes we'll have to be really concentrating," Santalab said.

It was Maclaren who remarked that his team never gives up when it finds itself behind on the scoreboard, before the Roar's latest thrilling comeback at the weekend.

"We've shown a lot of fighting spirit being a goal behind. We fight to the end," he said.

Nichols said Maclaren, who has scored 18 goals this season, would be a player "our defence needs to watch".

But Santalab said playing in front of the Wanderers' renowned supporter group the Red and Black Bloc, at a packed Pirtek Stadium, should give his team an advantage.

"I think playing in front of our fans will get us over the line," he said.



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