The Wellington Phoenix have extended their win streak to four games with a classy effort against Melbourne Victory tonight, winning 3-0 for their fifth clean sheet this season. It’s the first time Wellington has won four in a row since March 2015, and only the third time in the history of the club.
The Phoenix were never threatened by the visiting Victory, thanks to two first-half goals by Ulises Dávila and Gary Hooper which put the home team comfortably in the lead, before the margin was extended to 3-0 thanks to David Ball’s heroics.
In recognising the one-year anniversary of the Christchurch Mosque shooting, both teams stood around the centre circle prior to kick-off, bowing their heads in silence as Dave Dobbyn’s ‘Welcome Home’ played throughout the stadium.
The match itself kicked off in spectacular fashion, thanks to some excellent Phoenix teamwork to set up their fastest goal scored this season. After Tim Payne crossed it into Reno Piscopo, the latter made a brilliant header to Dávila just inside the box – Davila picking up his 11th goal of the season and putting the Phoenix up 1-0 within three minutes.
Victory struggled to find shots on goal, with Andrew Nabbout attempting to equalise - but slicing the ball wide - among some of their opportunities wasted. The only concern for the Phoenix came when Cameron Devlin picked up his fifth yellow card of the season after a tackle on Midjen Basha, which will see Devlin sit out of the Phoenix’s next match due to suspension.
Wellington would soon build on their lead, thanks to a spectacular backwards header from Gary Hooper after taking a pass from Liberato Cacace inside the box. It was Cacace’s first assist of the season and Hooper’s sixth goal – and third in his past four matches.
Marco Rojas had a chance to get Victory on the scoreboard at 28 minutes, but couldn’t convert his chance on goal; and his follow-up attempt a few minutes later would land safely in the hands of Wellington’s Stefan Marinovic. The Phoenix would go into half-time safely up 2-0 and comfortably controlling the match.
The second half threatened to start in a similar manner as the first, with Piscopo charging up the field and offloading to Cacace, who fired in a shot from distance which was caught by Victory’s keeper Lawrence Thomas.
The Phoenix would strike again on 55 minutes; a superb leading pass from Hooper saw David Ball streaking up the field, hammering one home on goal to up his tally to six for the season - and putting the Phoenix up 3-0.
Elvis Kamsoba had a decent chance for the Victory soon after, racing ahead of the defence to attempt a shot which was deflected over the crossbar by Marinovic.
Melbourne looked like they’d finally got one back before the 74th minute, with Nabbout’s strike appearing to hit the back of the net. But a subsequent VAR check ruled Ola Toivonen offside, as he had deflected Nabbout’s pass into goal from an offside position – much to the crowd’s delight.
And that would be the final score at Wellington Phoenix took out their fourth straight win, in the process all but shattering Melbourne Victory’s hopes of making the Finals this season.
The Wellington Phoenix will now travel to Sydney on Tuesday, where they’ll undergo 14 days of self-isolation as directed by the Australian Government – with the team awaiting the outcome of a FFA decision on when future matches will be played in Australia due to the COVID-19 Pandemic.
Wellington Phoenix Starting XI
1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 3.Luke DEVERE, 5.Matti STEINMANN, 6.Tim PAYNE, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 13.Liberato CACACE, 27.Steven TAYLOR (c), 88. Gary HOOPER
Melbourne Victory Starting XI
20.Lawrence THOMAS (gk), 2.Storm ROUX, 4.James DONACHIE, 6. Leigh BROXHAM, 9.Andrew NABBOUT, 13. Birkan KIRDAR, 17.Elvis KAMSOBA, 18.Migjen BASHA, 19.Ben CARRIGAN, 23.Marco ROJAS, 24.Anthony LESIOTIS
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
62’ ON 14.Alex RUFER OFF 8.Cameron DEVLIN
79’ ON 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO OFF 7.Reno PISCOPO
87’ ON 31.Ben WAINE OFF 9.David BALL
Melbourne Victory Substitutions
56’ ON 11.Ola TOIVONEN OFF 24.Anthony LESIOTIS
56’ ON 38.So NISHIKAWA OFF 13. Birkan KIRDAR
80’ ON 25.Brandon LAUTON OFF 23. Marco ROJAS
3’ Ulises DAVILA (Wellington Phoenix)
21’ Gary HOOPER (Wellington Phoenix)
55’ David BALL (Wellington Phoenix)
Next Match details
Please note that the Wellington Phoenix’s Round 24 match is pending the outcome of an FFA decision on future matches being played in Australia, due to the Covid-19 Pandemic.