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WSW let Premiers Plate slip: Nichols

NZN 9/04/2016 Emma Kemp

Having slid from pole position to third, Mitch Nichols is regretful that Western Sydney did not wrap up the A-League Premiers Plate when they had the chance.

The Wanderers looked in the box seat for a second minor premiership after racking up 10 unbeaten games on the trot in a scintillating mid-season run.

But for all the fluid attacking football that made Tony Popovic's revamped side such a pleasure to watch, a bout of late-season profligacy in front of goal has left the two-time grand finalists with just three wins from the past nine attempts.

Now, after Adelaide's 2-0 defeat of Melbourne City on Friday night, the third-placed Wanderers are no chance of reigniting the fairytale of 2012-13 when the club took out the Premiers Plate in their inaugural campaign.

"We've had a good year and we've probably just let a couple of chances slip when we probably needed to stand up," Nichols said.

"That's probably a little bit disappointing.

"But it's done now, so we've just got to get on with it and try to get three points from Wellington and set ourselves up for the finals."

Nichols said the focus had now turned to securing a coveted top-two position - possible only if the Wanderers beat Wellington away on Sunday and second-placed Brisbane slip up against Melbourne Victory on Saturday night.

At the very least they'll aim to finish third or fourth and earn a home elimination final, which would almost certainly be played at Pirtek Stadium as a second farewell before the Parramatta fortress is knocked down and rebuilt.

Should they win grand final hosting rights, Football Federation Australia has earmarked ANZ Stadium as the likely venue.

The table aside, Popovic said his team was motivated to get one back against the Phoenix after Ernie Merrick's travelling squad punished them 5-2 at Pirtek Stadium eight weeks ago courtesy of Blake Powell's outrageous four-goal haul.

"That's certainly still on my mind," Popovic said.

"We're very determined and focused to make sure that we put on a 95-minute performance, which we owe them.

"We have a sense of wanting to show Wellington a real performance from the Wanderers - we let ourselves down in the last match."

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