The Wellington Phoenix have tonight earned a 2-2 draw against the visiting Perth Glory, in front of over 22,000 fans at Auckland’s Eden Park.
Although the Nix have both maintained their all-time unbeaten streak at Eden Park and extended their unbeaten run to a club-record 10 matches, it comes as cold comfort to a club which has been fighting hard for a top six spot in the competition.
Wellington opened things up in the 25th minute thanks to a top-shelf strike from Tomer Hemed, before two second-half goals to Bruno Fornaroli and Callum Timmins put the Glory ahead. After Jaushua Sotirio equalised in the 80th minute, the Phoenix were unable to capitalise on a late penalty – having to settle for the 2-all draw.
Wellington again named an unchanged Starting XI from their last match, while Perth made three key changes – Joel Chianese, Luke Bodnar and Dane Ingham all promoted into the line-up with Fornaroli relegated to the bench.
Here’s the key moments from this match:
2’ – Early Controversy
Tim Payne is taken out inside the Perth box area and the penalty is initially awarded – but following a VAR check this call is overturned with possession going to the Glory, much to the chagrin of the Eden Park crowd.
21’ – Chance for Ball
Clayton Lewis threads a magnificent pass up to David Ball, who gets a shot off from the right-hand side against a crowded Perth defence; his attempt sliding just left of goal.
25’ – GOAL: Hemed with the Hammer (1-0)
Tomer Hemed takes a pass from Louis Fenton on the right side, finding himself with plenty of space in front of goal – he fires off a pass from outside the middle of box to register his 10th goal of the season.
This is also the club’s 10th goal outside the box this season, the most in the competition.
35’ – Hemed almost gets the double
Ben Waine passes into a confident Hemed, who launches a curling goal from outside the box; his attempt off target but threatening the Glory defence.
Half Time – Wellington Pheonix 1, Perth Glory 0
Wellington go into the half with a 1-0 lead, knowing that it will need to do everything it can to stave off a second-half comeback from Perth.
Both Hemed and Waine have been in great form on attack, and Devlin has been a sparkplug for the Nix across all 45 minutes; Reno Piscopo also mounting a valiant effort despite his shoulder injury.
57’ – Hemed and Piscopo can’t connect
Hemed receives a great ball in into the left of the box courtesy of Sam Sutton; his header is close but misses to the left. Barely a minute later, David Ball delivers a cross into Piscopo but his effort is blocked by the Perth defence.
61’ – GOAL: Fornaroli equalises (1-1)
A few minutes after subbing into the match, Fornaroli finds himself on the receiving end of a go-ahead pass from Diego Castro, the former sliding home an attempt from the right-hand side past an outstretched Oli Sail. This is Fornaroli’s 12 goal of the season, and Castro’s third assist.
73’ – GOAL: Timmins put Perth in front (1-2)
Fornaroli sets up Callum Timmins from well outside the box, the 21-year-old midfielder winding back a powerful attempt which hits the back of the net past Sail.
This is Timmin’s first A-League goal, and Fornaroli’s fifth assist of the season; the visitors taking the lead for the first time tonight.
80 – GOAL: Sotirio gets it done (2-2)
Desperate to pick up the three points, Wellington continues the attack with Jaushua Sotirio delivering a scorcher from the right-hand side of the box against the run of play.
This is Sotirio’s fourth goal of the season, with his effort squaring things up as the teams go into the final 10 minutes.
90 – Davila penalty miss
The Phoenix win a crucial penalty as Devlin is taken down inside the box by D’Agostino late in the match. However Ulises Davila is unable to get the ball past Perth’s Liam Reddy in goal, and the Nix cannot capitalise on the ensuring scramble for the ball in the box.
Full Time – Wellington Phoenix 2, Perth Glory 2
While this isn’t the result the Phoenix wanted, the team showed plenty of heart tonight and will be left feeling aggrieved by some of the more questionable refereeing decisions – especially late in the match with the team’s season potentially on the line.
Despite the draw, Wellington will take plenty of positives away from this match including Hemed’s continued goal-scoring run of form, Devlin’s constant activity and the effective minutes played by both Piscopo and Davila in their return from injury.
Following the match, Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay says that the team focus was always on the win tonight and anything except that is considered a disappointment.
“The thought process was never about the 10 games unbeaten streak or anything like that, we went out today with an opportunity to get three points and try to make the top six,” said Talay.
“So for us it’s disappointing; I thought we started off well and got a good lead with a good goal, but I think we allowed Perth to [get back into it] - there was one error from us that led to a goal in transition and then it was a good strike for distance to get their second goal.
“But the boys, at the end of the day they played three games in eight days, they worked hard to get themselves back into the game – and at the end we had an opportunity to win it.”
The Phoenix will travel back to Australia tomorrow to prepare for their final match of the regular season, at Campbelltown Stadium against the Macarthur Bulls on Friday 5 June from 7.05pm AEDT.
Wellington Phoenix squad: 6.Tim PAYNE, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Tomer HEMED, 18.Ben WAINE, 19.Sam SUTTON, 20.Oliver SAIL, 23.Clayton LEWIS, 27.Steven TAYLOR (c)
Perth Glory squad: 2.Jason GERIA, 5.Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS, 8.Kosuke OTA, 10.Andy KEOGH, 11.Joel CHIANESE, 13.Luke BODNAR, 17.Diego CASTRO, 19.Callum TIMMINS, 23.Dane INGHAM, 29.Darryl LACHMAN, 33.Liam REDDY (gk)
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
59’ ON 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO OFF 7.Reno PISCOPO
68’ ON 10.Ulises DAVILA OFF 18.Ben WAINE
Perth Glory Substitutions
55’ ON 9.Bruno FORNAROLI OFF 23.Dane INGHAM
75’ ON 18.Nick D'AGOSTINO OFF 10.Andy KEOGH
81’ ON 6.Osama MALIK OFF 13.Luke BODNAR
25’ Tomer HEMED (Wellington Phoenix)
61’ Bruno FORNAROLI (Perth Glory)
73’ Callum TIMMINS (Perth Glory)
80’ Jaushua SOTIRIO (Wellington Phoenix)
Next Match details
Match Week 23: Wellington Phoenix versus Macarthur Bulls, Campbelltown Stadium, Friday 4 June 2021, kick-off at 7.05pm AEDT (9.05pm NZT)