Hyundai A-League Season 6

Wellington Make History With Error-Strewn Draw
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

A-League - 2010/2011 Season - Round 10
5pm, Sunday 16 October 2010
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 2
(Chris Greenacre 6', Leo Bertos 59')
drew with
Melbourne Heart FC 2
('14 John Aloisi 14' pen, Matt Thompson 36')

(Linked from FFA site)

Wellington Phoenix made Australian footballing history at a blustery Westpac Stadium on 17 October, their error-strewn 2-2 draw with Melbourne Heart in this eleventh 'round' Hyundai A-League fixture suffice to secure a record-breaking 24th successive home game without defeat at “The Caketin” for New Zealand’s sole professional football club.

Wellington, sporting their new 3-4-3 formation, were swiftly out of the blocks despite the challenging playing conditions. Ben Sigmund was prevented from heading home a Paul Ifill corner just seventy seconds into the contest by the fingertips of the flying Clint Bolton.

After a Keystone Cops moment at the back - Mark Paston nearly overran Leo Bertos’ pass back to his goalkeeper, the home team opened the scoring in the sixth minute. Manny Muscat split Melbourne’s defence with a delightfully weighted pass, which Chris Greenacre dashed onto and fired first-time beyond the stranded figure of Bolton.

Two minutes later, Wellington came within inches of doubling their advantage. Troy Hearfield played the ball to Greenacre wide on the right, and he swivelled before curling a superb cross into the heart of Melbourne’s goalmouth, where Ifill was arriving on cue. The striker’s eight yard volley only just cleared the crossbar.

That miss was to prove costly, for, five minutes later, Melbourne drew level from the penalty spot. John Aloisi did the honours after Muscat needlessly felled Adrian Zahra in the area, affording referee Matthew Breeze one of the easier penalty decisions he’s had to make during his A-League career.

The equaliser took the wind from Wellington’s sails, and they struggled to get back into their stride, stray passes swiftly becoming de rigeur in the swirling wind. Melbourne weren’t much better, but the visitors certainly held the upper hand in what soon became uninspiring fare.

Eleven minutes before the interval, a rare moment of excitement revived interest in proceedings, as Leo Bertos got the better of Zahra on the left and curled in a cross which Ifill met with his head. It was a difficult chance, and he directed the ball narrowly past the post.

Melbourne responded two minutes later by taking the lead with a splendid individual goal. Taking an Aloisi flick in his stride, Matt Thompson powered into the penalty area before Hearfield and Sigmund forced him away from goal.

The defensive duo then suffered an inexplicable lapse in concentration, as Thompson’s sharp turn between them put him through on goal with just Paston to beat, a feat achieved with aplomb by the midfielder, who curled the ball round the ‘keeper and into the far corner of the net.

Wellington were well rattled now, but managed to get through the rest of the half without further incident, at which point coach Ricki Herbert changed the game-plan. Out with the new formation, in with the tried-and-trusted 4-4-2. Throw in a couple of personnel changes, a right royal rev-up, and out they came for the second spell all guns blazing.

Melbourne found themselves under the cosh from the outset. Two Bertos corners in the first three minutes of the half caused pandemonium in the visitors’ rearguard, with the second of them being cleared off the line by Thompson.

It was nigh on constant pressure from Wellington for the first twenty minutes of the half, and it paid off on the hour. Tim Brown had a shot blocked, but Muscat latched onto the rebound and back-heeled the ball to Bertos.

He cut inside and curled a shot towards the target, which Bolton seemingly had covered. Mother Nature had other ideas, however, the wind blowing the ball away from the ‘keeper and into the net beside him - a bizarre goal, but one which rewarded Wellington’s concerted pressure.

More was forthcoming. Half-time substitute Mirjan Pavlovic scampered down the left before working an opening with Greenacre which allowed the youngster to pick out Vince Lia with a cross.

He combined with Brown and Ifill to set up Bertos for a shot which Bolton tipped round the post at full stretch - the first save of note by either goalkeeper, and in the 64th minute at that.

Either side of this effort, the visitors had gone close to scoring again, with Aloisi left a frustrated figure by the shortcomings of his team-mates on each occasion. Zahra opted to lob waywardly with the better-placed marksman inside him in the 55th minute, while ten minutes later, a Dean Heffernan crossed curled behind the striker after two Wellington defenders had stumbled, allowing the overlapping fullback the run of the left flank.

Paston, who handled the ball outside his penalty area without punishment in stoppage time, then grabbed a Rutger Worm shot from the edge of the penalty area as Melbourne looked to regain the lead, something they came close to doing fourteen minutes from time, as Thompson sought out Aloisi with an angled cross.

Sigmund intervened to keep Wellington on level terms on this occasion, while Andrew Durante thwarted Aloisi’s attempt to get on the end of a driven cross from Worm five minutes from time as Melbourne chased the winner.

Wellington didn’t play well, and certainly wouldn’t have been worthy winners had they clinched all three points, something they came close to doing in stoppage time. Daniel turned defence into attack with a raking ball forward which released Pavlovic down the left, and with Brown and Greenacre providing decoy runs he dashed inside before unleashing a twenty-yarder at the target.

Bolton smothered the shot, the last one of a historic match for both the A-League and Wellington Phoenix - the Kiwi combination are 24 not out at Fortress “Caketin”, a record which dates back to almost two years ago, on 26 October 2008, when Brisbane Roar prevailed 1-0 in New Zealand’s capital.

A-League - 2010/2011 Season - Round 10
5pm, Sunday 16 October 2010
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 2
(Chris Greenacre 6', Leo Bertos 59')
drew with
Melbourne Heart FC 2
('14 John Aloisi 14' pen, Matt Thompson 36')

    Crowd: 5,211


    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 4. Nick WARD (4. Mirjan PAVLOVIC +46'), 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS (11. DANIEL de Costa +81'), 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 15. Jade NORTH (17. Vince LIA +46'), 18. Ben SIGMUND, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c)
    Substitutes not used: 19. Danny VUKOVIC (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Paul IFILL 79’
    Red Cards: Nil

    Melbourne Heart FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Clint BOLTON (gk), 2. Michael MARRONE, 4. Simon COLOSIMO (c), 5. Michael BEAUCHAMP, 6. Matt THOMPSON (17. Jason HOFFMAN +83'), 7. Rutger WORM, 10. Wayne SRHOJ, 15. John ALOISI, 20. Josip SKOKO (22. Nick KALMAR +63'), 23. Dean HEFFERNAN, 25. Adrian ZAHRA (11. Alex TERRA +69')
    Substitutes not used: 12. Peter ZOIS (gk),

    Coach: John van 't Schip

    Yellow Cards: Simon COLOSIMO 44’
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Matthew Breeze 6/10
    Assistant referees: Mark Rule, Brent Best; Fourth official: Peter O’Leary

    Pitch rating: 5/10 - had an r-word game on it last night, and it showed!

    Game rating: 5/10

    BOTN Player Points :

    3. Leo Bertos (WP)
    2. Wayne Srhoj (MH)
    1. Rutger Worm (MH)

    Match Report by Jeremy Ruane

Disclaimer: The content of this report is the responsibility of the writer. Stats are either as recorded by the writer at the game, or as supplied by FFA, or a mixture - no responsibility can be taken for their compete accuracy although we do strive for that. Any photos used here, unless otherwise attributed, are as supplied by FFA and used by permission.

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