It wasn’t meant to be for the Wellington Phoenix on the road at AAMI Park in Melbourne as the visiting side went down 2-1 against the Victory on Sunday night.
After an emotionally charged week following the news of long time Phoenix Media and Kit Manager, Russell Gray’s passing, the team were determined to put out a performance full of heart. Both sides ran out wearing black armbands and a reserved seat on the Phoenix bench, was a special touch to honour the club great.
Teenage midfielder, Sarpreet Singh, lined up at the top of the diamond with livewire forwards Roy Krishna and Nathan Burns in front of him. Within 23 minutes the Phoenix took the lead after a Matt Ridenton corner caused all sorts of issues at the back post causing a Leigh Broxham own goal.
There were chances at both ends, with Oliver Sail and Lawrence Thomas making saves to keep their sides in the contest. Just when the away bay fans thought they may have more to celebrate, a penalty against Kenny Athiu, taken by Leroy George put the home side on a level playing ground.
Kenny Athiu, the Sudanese-born Australian forward, was dangerous for the home side, finishing off a James Troisi cross to keep all three points in Melbourne.
Head Coach, Chris Greenacre was proud of the performance put in by his side, after what has been a challenging week.
“They [the team] stuck to our game plan and played a decent brand of football at times.”
“It’s not for the first time [this season], I am really, really proud of what the players have done.”
“They don’t become bad players overnight, we’ve got some real quality in the squad and it’s just about unleashing that potential with them.”