The Wellington Phoenix have fallen 0-1 to the Macarthur Bulls tonight at WIN Stadium, in a hard-fought match that saw the visitors come to life in the second half to record their first ever win against the Phoenix.
Missing a key attacking player in Reno Piscopo - who suffered an ankle injury in his previous match – the Phoenix started Cameron Devlin in the midfield and slid Clayton Lewis into Piscopo’s attacking role. They would also lose Steven Taylor to injury early in the match, then conceded a goal by Denis Genreau in the second half which they couldn’t recover from.
Here’s the key storylines from this match:
2’ – Phoenix attacking early
The Phoenix started off strong in the early minutes, setting an aggressive tone. This was highlighted by a header assist from Taylor to James McGarry in front of the Bulls goal at the two minute mark; his attempt on target but blocked by Macarthur’s solid defence.
10’ – Taylor lost to injury
A forced change for Phoenix as they lose Taylor to injury; Joshua Laws coming on as his replacement on the field. Coach Talay later explained that Taylor felt his quad get a bit tight while playing a ball out to another player and although he could’ve kept going, he was removed from the match for precautionary reasons.
11’ – Strong attempt on goal by Ball
Following an interception by Devlin in the midfield, Ulises Davila would get the ball ahead to David Ball – his strong attempt from the right side of the box saved by Bull’s goalkeeper Adam Federici. Phoenix dominating the ball early and will several chances around the goal area.
33’ – Sail cleans up
An attempt on goal by Genreau - one of the Bulls few attacking options in the first half – is expertly saved by Phoenix goalkeeper Oliver Sail, who cleans up on the right side of the goal.
36’ - Bulls botch a scoring opportunity
The best attempt on goal in the first half, would be courtesy of Macarthur at the 46 minute mark; with Ivan Franjic getting a great pass into the Phoenix box but two Bulls players getting caught up in the same space and unable to get the shot attempt off.
Half-time – Wellington Phoenix 0, Macarthur Bulls 0
Both teams went into half-time nil all, in a good tactical contest between two teams equally hungry to pick up the three points.
This marked the first time in the past six matches that the Nix haven’t scored in the first half; but despite this the Nix looked in control in the first forty-five minutes, sharing possession evenly with the Bulls and dominating the territory.
Wellington also had six goal attempts (two on target) to the Bull’s 3 (one on target), with both teams outstanding on defence and the Nix looking particularly strong in the backline - despite missing the presence of Taylor.
46’ – Bulls come out strong in second half
A set move by the Bulls saw a strong goal attempt by Loic Puyo on goal, only to see it batted away by Sail – his reflexes leading to an outstanding save of a certain goal attempt.
Six minutes later, Macarthur had another chance - a header attempt by Benat Etxebarria in front of goal, which again was caught by Sail. Despite Sail’s brilliance defending the goal, Macarthur were looking much sharper in the second half.
65’ – Genreau scores on the deflection (0-1)
After a weak header attempt by Matt Derbyshire a minute earlier that didn’t threaten the goal, his second attempt – this one a long attempt from outside the box – would be on target; although it would be saved by Sail in front of goal, Genreau would gather the loose ball and slot home a goal at close-range.
Genreau’s goal - his second of the season – would be enough to put the visitors up 1-0 and break the scoring drought.
75’ – Wellington attempts to equalise
The last twenty minutes saw the Phoenix bring on Ben Waine to complement the other strikers bought on in by Ufuk the second half, combining with Jaushua Piscopo and Charles Lokoli-Ngoy to form a fresh attacking trio for the home side.
At 79 minutes, an excellent cross from Waine on the right side would fall to Lokoli-Ngoy near the goal, but his header attempt would be off target. Another great crowd from Waine – one of several made by the 19-year-old on the night – would again find Lokoli-Ngoy inside the box in extra time; but the forward was unable to convert.
Full Time – Wellington Phoenix 0, Macarthur Bulls 1
Macarthur’s win sees them climb into third place on the ladder past a surging Adelaide United and Western Sydney, while Wellington remains unchanged in ninth place – just four points out of sixth place.
Following the match, coach Ufuk Talay would offer his perspective on the hard-fought game.
“It was a very tight game, both teams very disciplined with and without the ball – but I think we created the better chances within the game, it was a defensive error that led to the goal and we walk away with a 1-0 loss,” said Talay.
“It’s our third game in seven days, the tempo was slower and we didn’t play with the same intensity that we have in previous games; there were times when we could’ve penetrated but we decided to maintain possession of the ball when I think we could’ve been a bit more positive, a bit more brave with it.
“At the end of the day, it’s disappointing walking away with a 1-0 loss when they didn’t really create too much, I think we were the better side with the chances that we created.”
Despite the loss, Talay says there are still enough matches left in the season for the Phoenix to get into the top six and a Finals berth.
“It hurts us, but at the same time there’s a lot more games and there’s a lot of team we haven’t played yet – and it’s very important that we need to maximise those games we still have to play.”
The Phoenix remain at home for their next match, taking on second-placed Melbourne City FC on Easter Monday 5th April at WIN Stadium – the first time they have faced City this season.
Wellington Phoenix squad: 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Tomer HEMED, 20.Oliver SAIL (gk), 23.Clayton LEWIS, 27.Steven TAYLOR
Macarthur Bulls squad: 1.Adam FEDERICI (gk), 4.Benat ETXEBARRIA, 5.Mark MILLIGAN, 6.Aleksandar JOVANOVIC, 7.Ivan FRANJIC, 8.Denis GENREAU, 10.Loic PUYO, 11.Tommy OAR, 15.Aleksandar SUSNJAR, 27.Matt DERBYSHIRE, 33.Markel SUSAETA
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
10’ ON 21.Joshua LAWS OFF 27.Steven TAYLOR
59’ ON 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO OFF 23.Clayton LEWIS
59’ ON 13.Charles LOKOLI-NGOY OFF 17.Tomer HEMED
75’ ON 18.Ben WAINE OFF 8.Cameron DEVLIN
Macarthur Bulls Substitutions
59’ ON 29.Antonis MARTIS OFF 10.Loic PUYO
73’ ON 31.Lachlan ROSE OFF 33.Markel SUSAETA
87’ ON 9.Milislav POPOVIC OFF 8.Denis GENREAU
65’ Denis GENREAU (Macarthur Bulls)
Next Match details
Match Week 15: Wellington Phoenix versus Melbourne City FC, WIN Stadium, 5 April 2021, kick-off at 7.10pm AEDT (9.10pm NZ time)