The Wellington Phoenix have beaten the Western Sydney Wanderers for the second time this season, dominating them 2-0 at home to secure their second clean sheet of the season.
In the club’s 150th match at Sky Stadium, Wellington put on a blustery afternoon for the fans, and Phoenix responded by putting on a show against an outmatched Sydney side – in the process equalling the club’s longest unbeaten streak ever at nine games (6W, 3D).
Both teams were missing key players for this match; Phoenix playing their first game this season without David Ball and also missing midfielders Alex Rufer and Reno Piscopo – with Gary Hooper making his third start of the season and Callum McCowatt also in the starting 11. Meanwhile the Wanderers were missing Keanu Baccus and Tass Mourdoukoutas, who both joined Piscopo on international duty with the Australian 23’s.
The Phoenix dominated possession early and seemed to be bursting with energy, as evidenced by their frequent forays into the Wanderer’s penalty area. McCowatt had an early attempt at goal that hit the side of the net, before Davila’s attempt was blocked by a Wanderers defender and his subsequent strike attempt hit the goalpost.
With a Phoenix goal looking inevitable, Davila’s perseverance was rewarded at 15 minutes as he banged home a rocket from outside of the box to put Wellington up 1-0. It was Davila’s ninth goal of the season, keeping him in third place for most goals scored in the Hyundai A-League this season.
Neither team would get another attempt at goal for the next 20 minutes, as both sides locked down on defence and engaged in some scrappy play in the midfield - highlighted by an altercation between ex-Wanderer Jaushua Sotirio and an agitated Daniel Goergievski jostling with each other.
It was Goergievski who had Western Sydney’s first real chance at goal, only to see his attempt blocked. Mitchell Duke followed up with an attempt in front of goal that went wide; his follow-up attempt a few minutes later was caught by goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic.
The first half ended with the Phoenix up 1-0, highlighted by both Wellington’s aggressive start - culminating in Davila’s rocket - and some feisty play by both sides.
The second half saw Wellington once again charging on attack, with an early goal attempt by Gary Hooper, and a continuation of Western Sydney’s aggressiveness and their desperation to equalise.
They had a chance from sub Nicholas Sullivan at 62 minutes - with his attempt landing straight into Marinovic’s arms. Shortly after a long-distance attempt by Nicolai Muller – who scored against the Phoenix earlier in the season – went wide of the goal.
At 79 minutes, Duke attempted a dangerous shot that just went wide of the goal, and several minutes later a curling attempt by Goergievski landed in Marinovic’s arms once again.
Then it was Wellington’s turn to strike, with Liberato Cacace using some fancy footwork to net his first goal for the Phoenix this season – a just reward for his high work-rate all game, and putting the Phoenix comfortably up 2-0 to end the match.
The Wellington Phoenix head to Brisbane next round, taking on the Roar at Suncorp Stadium on 18th January at 7pm – with a win away from setting a new all-time unbeaten record for the Phoenix.
Wellington Phoenix Starting XI
1. Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 3. Luke DEVERE, 5. Matti STEINMANN, 6. Tim Payne, 8. Cameron DEVLIN, 10. Ulises DAVILA, 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 13. Liberato CACACE, 21. Callum McCowatt, 27. Steven TAYLOR (c), 88. Gary HOOPER
Western Sydney Wanderers Starting XI
1.Daniel LOPAR (GK), 4.Dylan McGOWAN, 5.Daniel GEORGIEVSKI, 6.Matthew JURMAN, 7.Mitchell DUKE (c), 9.Nicolai MULLER, 19.Pirmin SCHWEGLER, 27.Kwame YEBOAH, 33.Tate RUSSELL, 34.Patrick ZIEGLER, 35.Mohamed ADAM
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
67’ ON 32.Sam SUTTON OFF 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO
79’ ON 31.Ben WAINE OFF 88.Gary HOOPER
90+3’ ON 10.Ulises DAVILA OFF 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI
Western Sydney Wanderers Substitutions
61’ ON 22. Nicholas SULLIVAN OFF 19.Pirmin SCHWEGLER
61’ ON 23.Kosta GROZOS OFF 35.Mohamed ADAM
84’ ON 62.Ali AUGLAH OFF 19.Kwame YEBOAH
16’ Ulises DAVILA (Wellington Phoenix)
88’ Liberato CACACE (Wellington Phoenix)
Next Match Details
Round 15 – Wellington Phoenix versus Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium, Brisbane; Saturday 18th January 2020, 7pm NZT