The Wellington Phoenix have picked up their first win of the season tonight, emerging victorious against a determined Brisbane Roar side to come away with a much-needed 2-1 win at home.
In their first match at Westpac Stadium in almost a month, both the sun and a vocal crowd were out in force; helping the Phoenix squad to dominate for much of the match against Robbie Fowler’s side – and holding off a last-minute attack to preserve the victory.
The match started off in spectacular fashion, with the Lifeflight Rescue Helicopter landing in centre field to deliver the match ball. The teams then took to the field and the Phoenix were in the thick of it immediately when Alex Rufer was fouled by Brisbane’s captain Tom Aldred – his subsequent free kick sailed over the bar. Wellington dominated possession early, with goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic easily absorbing a goal attempt from Roar’s Scott Neville, then Liberato Cacace winning a corner and giving Ulises Davila an early chance to score that went wide.
From what seemed like out of nowhere, the Phoenix struck as Steven Taylor scored a stunning goal at the 10 minute mark; a beautiful header from the captain in a crowded box, off of an assist from Ulises Davila – his first assist of the season. Phoenix up 1-0.
The Roar tried to strike back at 17 minutes, with Jordan Courtney-Perkins attempting to strike from in close but Taylor – displaying the defensive prowess he’s more known for – making his league-leading 10th block of a shot at goal. The captain was leading by example early this match, giving the younger players on the field a blueprint for how to play hard and play smart.
James O’Shea had another chance a few minutes later, attempting a goal that went sailing far over the goal thanks to pressure from Taylor. Although Brisbane continued to pile on the pressure at goal, the Phoenix did well to stifle the opposition’s chances thanks to some strong defensive work.
The Phoenix went straight back on the attack, with a spectacular bicycle kick attempt by David Ball that went into the hands of goalkeeper Max Crocombe – in what would’ve been the goal of the Hyundai A-League this season had it landed in the back of the net.
The pressure continued on the Brisbane defence, with a pair of dangerous attacks by Callum McCowatt book-ending strong runs by Davila and Cacace. Rufer then had another chance at goal at 40 mins, dribbling into the box and getting a shot away into Crocombe’s waiting hands.
Half-time arrived with the Wellington Phoenix up 1-0 and dominant in all facets of the match - to the delight of the home crowd. Meanwhile, the Brisbane Roar extended their dubious record of not scoring a first-half goal in all seven matches this season.
The second half got off with a roar – pardon the pun – as Phoenix went on another attacking run. An attempt by McCowatt in partnership with David Ball had a good chance but was denied by Crocombe; then it was Davila’s turn to strike.
The Mexican-born Phoenix midfielder delivered for the fourth time this season, banging home a goal into the bottom corner from outside the box at 49 minutes. Phoenix were now up 2-0 for the first time this season, with the crowd going wild with celebration.
The two teams traded possession back and forth for several minutes, before Jaushua Sotirio went down in what looked like a jersey pull; but no call came from the referees, who heard it from the fired-up crowd.
Then at 64 minutes, Davila struck again, hitting the back of the net with a brilliant low driven striker – only to have his goal overruled due to an offside, keeping the score at 2-0 to the Phoenix.
Brisbane went back on the offensive, with Marinovic doing well to get a hand in to deny their attempt. Brisbane started to enjoy more possession for the next several minutes, but couldn’t do anything productive with it; after scoring four goals their last match it seemed like they’d forgotten how to kick the ball into the net.
Davila had another chance at goal soon after, with his shot going just over the bar. Then it was time for Brisbane to strike, with Stefan Mauk grabbing one from inside the box that put the visitors on the board – now down 2-1 in the 85thminute.
The goal seemed to galvanise the Roar, as they piled on the offensive pressure in the hopes of an equaliser by half-time. Wellington countered with some fresh legs, bringing in a pair of late substitutions in Ben Waine and Liam McGing; the latter his first Hyundai A-League appearance.
With four minutes of added time, the pressure remained on the Phoenix to protect their goal; a last-minute attempt to equalise was cut out by Marinovic, and when the final whistle blew the Phoenix had emerged victorious – picking up their first win this season with a strong defensive effort balanced with fiery determination and aggression.
The Wellington Phoenix now travel to Coopers Stadium, taking on Adelaide United at 8pm, Sunday 1st December.
Wellington Phoenix Starting XI
1. Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 3. Luke DEVERE, 5. Matti STEINMANN, 6. Tim Payne, 9. David BALL, 10. Ulises DAVILA, 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO, 13. Liberato CACACE, 14. Alex RUFER, 21. Callum MCCOWATT, 27. Steven TAYLOR (c)
Brisbane Roar FC Starting XI
1. Max CROCOMBE (gk), 2. Scott NEVILLE, 5. Tom ALDRED (c), 6. Macaulay GILLESPHEY, 8. Jacob PEPPER, 9. Roy O’DONOVAN, 13. Stefan MAUK, 20. Aaron AMADI-HOLLOWAY, 22. Jake MCGING, 26. Jay O’SHEA, 29. Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
65’ ON 8. Cameron DEVLIN OFF 21. Callum MCCOWATT
86’ ON 31. Benjamin WAINE OFF 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO
88’ ON 2. Liam MCGING OFF 10. Ulises DAVILA
Brisbane Roar FC Substitutions
46’ ON 10. Bradden INMAN OFF 20. Aaron HOLLOWAY
50’ ON 10. 7. Jai INGHAM OFF 20. Jake MCGING
65’ ON 12. Aiden O’NEILL OFF 29. Jordan COURTNEY-PERKINS
10’ 27. Steven TAYLOR (Wellington Phoenix)
49’ 10. Ulises DAVILA (Wellington Phoenix)
85’ 13. Stefan MAUK (Brisbane Roar)
Next Match Details
Round 8 – Wellington Phoenix away versus Adelaide United at Coopers Stadium, Adelaide; Sunday 1st December 2019, 8pm NZT