The Wellington Phoenix have soared to a 4-1 victory tonight, dominating a slumping Melbourne Victory side to remain undefeated in the red ‘Wollongong Strip’ at WIN Stadium.
The Phoenix saw a balanced scoring attack on the night, with four different Nix players scoring – two in the first half and two in the second – to earn a comfortable win against the last-placed Victory.
This match also saw the return of experienced defender Steven Taylor, who helped marshall the backline throughout the night – while the quartet of Ulises Davila, Reno Piscopo, David Ball and Tomer Hemed showed just how dangerous an attacking team this Nix squad can be.
Here are some of the key storylines from the match:
11’ – Hemed opens the account (1-0)
The Phoenix put on a scintillating team display to register their first goal of the match. It all started with Piscopo showing great touch to take the ball within his defensive half and get it up to Ball, who was running in on goal on the opposite side. Ball then played the ball to a dashing Davila outside the box, who fed the ball to a waiting Hemed at the back post – these four players combining for arguably the best team goal of the season.
The Phoenix opened the match 1-1 in goal attempts, giving Hemed his third goal in three matches as the Israeli forward continues to showcase his offensive talent; Davila also earning his second assist of the campaign.
13’ - Can Melbourne equalise?
Melbourne piled on the pressure in an attempt to equalise, with a Callum McManaman attempt blocked by the Phoenix and a pair of efforts from Ben Folami on the left side both expertly caught by Nix goalkeeper Oli Sail. A further attempt by McManaman would again be blocked, with Victory showing frustration at their inability to break down Wellington’s defence.
34’ – Sail shuts down Kambosa
Elvis Kamsoba takes a great interception and creates a strong opportunity on goal for Melbourne; his effort from the centre of the box superbly saved by Sail.
36’ – Ball cleans up (2-0)
A scramble inside the Victory box pays dividends for Wellington - the loose ball bouncing off of Rufer, then Piscopo and ends up in front of a sliding Ball, who slots home his fourth goal of the season to put Phoenix up 2-0. After a quick VAR check for a possible handball, the goal stands; Nix now 2 from 2 in goal attempts this match.
40’ – Thunderous strike from Lewis
The Nix nearly made it 3-0 before half-time, thanks to a strong attempt from Clayton Lewis which hits the crossbar at high speed. Hemed is unable to clean up the resulting ball inside Melbourne’s box, but the Victory are clearly rattled by Wellington’s aggressive attack.
45’ – Sail's Brilliance
Just before the half-time whistle, an attempt by Victory’s Folami is brilliantly saved by Sail, ensuring Wellington goes into the half up 2-0 and clearly in charge of this match.
Wellington fared well against the Victory attack, blocking 4 of Melbourne’s 11 goal attempts and Sail with a pair of top-shelf saves to prevent the visitors from scoring.
63’ – Magic from the Captain (3-0)
Wellington goes up 3-0 thanks to the captain – James McGarry shaking off multiple defenders and delivering a great pass to Davila, who puts home a goal from well outside the box with his right foot.
This gives Davila his fifth goal of the season - and only his second right-footed goal out of 17 goals scored since last season – along with McGarry’s third assist of the campaign.
68’ – Lewis piles on the misery for Melbourne (4-0)
After being denied by the woodwork in the first half, Lewis would get his revenge in the second half; Cameron Devlin delivering a pass to Ball outside the box who pushes it to Lewis on the left side; the first year midfielder striking it home to register a well-deserved first A-League goal.
76’- Kambosa Retaliates (4-1)
Melbourne would finally get on the board at 76 minutes, with Elvis Kamsoba looping a shot past Steven Taylor and into Wellington’s goal. Kambosa’s earning his first goal of the season and depriving Wellington of a clean sheet on the night.
Full Time – Wellington Phoenix 4, Melbourne Victory 1
The win sees the Phoenix pick up their second win of the season at WIN Stadium, moving them into eight place – just four points shy of sixth placed Sydney FC.
Although the goal statistics would be close; Wellington with 16 attempts (six on target) to Victory’s 14 attempts (six on target), the Phoenix held a clear advantage in duels – winning 41 duels versus 27 to Melbourne, and winning 11 aerial duels to Victory’s six. Hemed was responsible for winning nine of these duels, while Payne and Taylor completed 138 passes combined at an impressive 97% success rate.
Following the match, coach Ufuk Talay had appreciative words for Taylor in the defender’s 50th A-League appearance for the club.
“Taylor is a very experienced player for us, he gives us that boost in the backline,” said Talay.
“He’s come out of quarantine and had four sessions before the game so for me he’s done a fantastic job in his first game playing 90 minutes.”
Next up the Phoenix will again don the red ‘Wollongong strip’ this Sunday, when they play their third match in seven days - taking on Macarthur Bulls on 28 March in an A-League double-header with the Wollongong Wolves. This will also be the Nix’s first ‘kids go free’ match, as the club celebrates its third and final match of Wollongong Appreciation Month.
Wellington Phoenix squad: 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Tomer HEMED, 20.Oliver SAIL, 23.Clayton LEWIS, 27.Steven TAYLOR
Melbourne Victory squad: 1.Matt ACTON (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 3.Adama TRAORE, 4.Nicholas ANSELL, 7.Callum McMANAMAN, 8.Jacob BUTTERFIELD, 10.Robbie KRUSE, 11.Ben FOLAMI, 15.Aaron ANDERSON, 17.Elvis KAMSOBA, 22.Jake BRIMMER
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
46’ ON 8.Cameron DEVLIN OFF 7.Reno PISCOPO
72’ ON 13.Charles LOKOLI-NGOY OFF 17.Tomer HEMED
81’ ON 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO OFF 9.David BALL
90’+1 ON 18.Ben WAINE OFF 10.Ulises DAVILA
90’+1 ON 19.Sam SUTTON OFF 23.Clayton LEWIS
Melbourne Victory Substitutions
57’ ON 13.Birkan KIRDAR OFF 11.Ben FOLAMI
77’ ON 25.Luis LAWRIE-LATTANZIO OFF 17.Elvis KAMSOBA
77’ ON 35.Zaydan BELLO OFF 2.Storm ROUX
86’ ON 14.Jay BARNETT OFF 7.Callum McMANAMAN
11’ Tomer HEMED (Wellington Phoenix)
36’ David BALL (Wellington Phoenix)
62’ Ulises DAVILA (Wellington Phoenix)
68’ Clayton LEWIS (Wellington Phoenix)
76’ Elvis KAMSOBA (Melbourne Victory)
Next Match details
Match Week 14: Wellington Phoenix versus Macarthur Bulls, WIN Stadium, 28 Mar 2021, kick-off at 4.05pm AEDT (6.05pm NZ time)