Hyundai A-League Season 6

Rojas Rampant As Wellington
Neutralise Newcastle
By Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of

A-League - 2010/2011 Season - Round 19
7pm, Saturday 18 December, 2010
at Wellington Football Stadium, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 4
(Tim Brown 18', Marco Rojas 31', Chris Greenacre 41', Dylan Macallister 88')
Newcastle United Jets FC 0

(Linked from FFA site)

Wellington Phoenix overcame the early loss to a potential long-term injury of striker Paul Ifill to neutralise Newcastle Jets 4-0 at Westpac Stadium, much to the delight of the 6,053 fans who attended this Hyundai A-League encounter in Wellington on 18 December.

The home team dominated the early proceedings, but it was the visitors who fired the first shot in anger, Tarek Elrich’s eighth minute twenty-yarder being solidly saved by Danny Vukovic, making his first start following the season-ending injury suffered by Mark Paston a week ago.

It looks like he’ll have some company during his rehabilitation process, as Ifill landed awkwardly after seeing his ten yard drive smothered by Matthew Nash in the tenth minute, Wellington’s talismanic striker immediately calling for treatment as he clutched at his left knee, which he appeared to twist when impacting with the turf.

The sight of their star player departing on a stretcher was a sorry one for the local faithful, but the team made light of his absence to produce arguably their best performance of the season, thanks in no small part to first-time starter Marco Rojas.

The fleet-footed flier has been a menace for opponents on the vast majority of occasions he has been introduced off the bench this season, and Wellington coach Ricki Herbert decided the time was right to unleash this potent weapon on a team from the kick-off.

Rojas repaid his coach’s faith handsomely, playing a key role in all three first half goals Wellington scored, the first of which materialised in the eighteenth minute. It owed everything to the youngster’s terrorising of three Newcastle defenders, who were twisting and turning this way and that as the in-full-flight Rojas bore down on them.

Chris Greenacre, Ifill’s replacement, took possession of the ball and promptly whipped in a cross to the far post where Tim Brown, who had stormed down the left as Rojas rampaged down the right, was on hand to head home from point-blank range.

The setback stunned the Novocastrians, who were fortunate to keep a full compliment of players on the park two minutes later. Tomislav Misura mowed down Jade North late and from behind after the defender had cleared the ball, and should be sending referee Jarred Gillett a Christmas card for his kindness in only brandishing a yellow one. A darker hue wouldn’t have been out of order.

Newcastle came into this match on a seven-match unbeaten run, which coincided with the arrival at the club of former Arsenal and Everton striker Francis Jeffers. He knew very little about what happened in the 23rd minute, the ball striking him on the chest and ricocheting past the post after Elrich and Marko Jesic had combined to prise open Wellington’s rearguard.

The home team replied in kind at the other end of the park three minutes later. Vince Lia’s ball forward wasn’t cleared, which allowed Brown to lash a twenty-yarder at the target. Nash parried this, and Rojas was onto the rebound in an instant, instinct telling him to cross to the far post.

Newcastle managed to scramble clear on this occasion, but in the 31st minute were left reeling from a second blow on the scoreboard. A quickly taken free-kick by Brown - Leo Bertos had been felled twenty-five yards out from goal - saw the impressive Manny Muscat loft a cross towards the far post.

Dylan MacAllister, making the most of a rare start, headed the ball down off Nikolai Topor-Stanley into the stride of Rojas, whose unerring finish from six yards left Nash beaten all ends up.

The visitors looked to bounce back from this blow, but found themselves staring down the barrel of a heavy defeat in the 42nd minute. MacAllister headed down a Rojas corner, which ricocheted off Elrich towards Greenacre.

The striker, with Nash’s hands all around him as the ‘keeper tried to get to the ball first, swivelled and hooked the ball goalwards from inside the six yard box, Ali Abbas’ efforts to clear it off the line coming too late to prevent the sphere from entering the net, something which referee’s assistant Glen Lochrie was perfectly placed to judge.

Newcastle’s players surrounded referee Gillett as they protested to the contrary, but the score was now 3-0, and there could have been more goals before the interval. Rojas set off on a run off the left flank which saw him evade a couple of challenges, but after finally being tackled, he continued across to the right flank, where he again enjoyed the ball’s company.

The youngster swivelled and picked out Greenacre with a peach of a cross, the striker’s header being smothered by Nash, who also kept out a twenty-five yarder from Brown before the half-time whistle, Muscat having managed to maintain possession inside Newcastle’s penalty area before linking with Bertos in the build-up to this opportunity.

Newcastle were a more competitive proposition in the second spell, with half-time substitute Labinot Haliti and the pacy Elrich both being denied by Vukovic before the hour mark. The overlapping fullback also fired a cross just across the bows of Jeffers in the 66th minute, but the game was long over as a contest.

Wellington had the ball in the net just after the hour mark through MacAllister, as he headed home Rojas’ hanging cross. Sadly for the natives, the days when strikers could bundle the opposing goalkeeper into the back of the net at the same time are long behind us, much to Nash’s relief.

He was also relieved when Wellington’s next attack of note resulted in the ball fizzing narrowly past his far post. Daniel was the architect of the opportunity, the substitute whipping in a wicked free-kick with his first touch which careered through the gathered throngs, somehow managing to avoid human contact en route.

Topor-Stanley was one of very few Newcastle players who can be proud of his display - Elrich was another - and the visiting captain’s timely tackle thwarted Greenacre in the 73rd minute, as he pounced on a stray Taylor Regan pass and looked to race through on goal.

Seconds later, Topor-Stanley did enough to prevent MacAllister from directing a header on target, after Lia and Daniel had linked on the left. But after Haliti had fired over from inside the six-yard box on receipt of an inviting Jesic free-kick as the visitors sought a consolation goal, Wellington delivered the coup de grace two minutes from time.

Daniel ignited the move, jinking down the right before slipping a pass into the stride of Brown. Looking up as he moved onto the ball, Wellington’s captain saw MacAllister lurking completely unmarked on the edge of the penalty area, and a slide-rule pass was gleefully steered home by the striker to cap off a fine victory for the Wellingtonians, one of the most emphatic of the thirty they have recorded in their history.

A-League - 2010/2011 Season - Round 19
7pm, Saturday 18 December, 2010
at Wellington Football Stadium, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 4
(Tim Brown 18', Marco Rojas 31', Chris Greenacre 41', Dylan Macallister 88')
Newcastle United Jets FC 0

    Crowd: 6,053


    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    Danny Vukovic (gk); Troy Hearfield, Ben Sigmund, Jade North, Manny Muscat; Marcos Rojas (James Musa +81'), Tim Brown, Vince Lia, Leo Bertos (Daniel de Costa +68'); Paul Ifill (Chris Greenacre +12'), Dylan MacAllister
    Substitutes not used: Reece Crowther (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Nil
    Red Cards: Nil

    Newcastle United Jets FC :
    Player listing:
    Matthew Nash (gk); Tarek Elrich, Taylor Regan, Nikolai Topor-Stanley, Adam D’Apuzzo; Marko Jesic, Marcello Fiorentini, Jacob Pepper (Kaz Patafta +46'), Ali Abass; Francis Jeffers (Saso Petrovski +71'), Tomislav Misura (Labinot Haliti +46')
    Substitutes not used: 1. Ben Kennedy (rgk)

    Coach: Branko Culina

    Yellow Cards: Tomislav Misura 20’
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Jarred Gillett 6/10
    Assistant referees: Brent Best, Glen Lochrie; Fourth official: Matthew Conger

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 6/10

    BOTN Player Points :

    3. Marcos Rojas (WP)
    2. Chris Greenacre (WP)
    1. Many Muscat (WP)

    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 attributed, are as supplied by FFA and used by permission.

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