Hyundai A-League Season 6

Petkovic’s “Worldies”
Can’t Deny Wellington Victory
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

A-League - 2010/2011 Season - 'Week' 21
7:30pm, Wednesday 5 January, 2010
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 2
(Dylan Macallister 67', Marco Rojas 72')
Melbourne Victory FC 0

(Photo linked from FFA site)

A magnificent display of goalkeeping by Melbourne Victory’s Michael Petkovic wasn’t enough to deny Wellington Phoenix a richly deserved 2-0 triumph at Westpac Stadium on January 5, the home team’s first Hyundai A-League match of the new year.

The visiting goalkeeper pulled off four “worldies” - world class saves - in fifteen second half minutes to single-handedly keep his team in a contest which was so one-sided that had it been a boxing bout, the referee would have stopped the fight!

Wellington eventually found a way past Petkovic on two occasions, but how they failed to score in an at times frenetic first half only they will know! They absolutely dominated Melbourne, but for all their pressure, they rarely forced Petkovic into action during the opening forty-five minutes.

The ‘keeper was little tested by a tame Dylan MacAllister header, following a Nick Ward cross inside the first eighty seconds of the match, and was relieved to see his captain, Adrian Leijer, blocking a Tim Brown effort to safety in the tenth minute, after Manny Muscat had motored down the left and nutmegged Tom Pondeljak before presenting Marco Rojas with the chance to deliver a low cross into Brown’s stride.

Ward was also in nutmegging mood, and Marvin Angulo was the victim of his party trick two minutes later, as he played a part in concerted Wellington pressure. MacAllister and Rojas were in the thick of things, but scrambling Melbourne defence was the visitors’ saving grace, not for the last time in the half.

It was certainly the case in the fourteenth minute, as Brown was crowded out after Ben Sigmund, Rojas and MacAllister had combined on the left, while after a brief lull, the onslaught resumed in the 23rd minute through Troy Hearfield, who combined with Rojas and Vince Lia to present Brown with another chance.

Again Melbourne survived more by good luck than good management - how they missed the absent Kevin Muscat’s leadership in this match - although they always had Petkovic to fall back on, as was the case in the 25th minute when he produced a solid save to thwart Hearfield, after he had scythed inside Matthew Kemp’s challenge and let fly.

Still Wellington pressed, their efforts often coming to grief via an unconvincing final ball. When Rojas was on it, however, Melbourne’s rearguard was at panic stations - the youngster is a winger in the classic mode, his two-footedness rendering him effective on either flank, and making him an absolute nightmare for makeshift fullbacks, as Pondeljak was in this match.

Time and again, Rojas rampaged past the veteran, and in the 34th minute it was only a timely tackle from Roddy Vargas which thwarted the youngster as he made mincemeat of Melbourne’s defence once more.

Three minutes later, Rojas threatened again, this time via a set-piece. There were plenty of these in the first half, but those which were delivered accurately were few and far between.

There really can be no excuse for failing to consistently deliver quality ball into the danger zone, given how many goals tend to result from dead-ball situations - for mine, it’s as important an aspect of the game as a player’s boots! Yet how many times do we see sub-standard set-piece supply spoiling scoring opportunities?

Rojas bucked the trend with his 37th minute delivery, an absolute peach of a free-kick from out wide which left Vargas, Leijer and Petkovic completely bamboozled. A pity for the Wellington lad that it curled a foot past the far post - definitely an effort deserving of better fate.

As were many of Wellington’s second half attempts to record a sizable home win to reward the 9,496 fans who attended their first home game of 2011. On another day, they would have won this game by six goals at least. On this day, however, they faced a human wall in Petkovic.

The ‘keeper’s first “worldie” materialised seven minutes into the second half. On receipt of a corner, Lia swept a superb cross-field ball onto the head of Andrew Durante, who guided the ball down into Sigmund’s stride.

The defender’s deft footwork engineered him some space on the edge of the goal area, but his attempt to lift the ball over Petkovic was in vain - the ‘keeper saved superbly at point-blank range to keep the scores level.

Six minutes later, he was at it again, this time in stunning fashion. A Rojas raid resulted in Ward gathering possession on the right, from where he whipped a cross into the penalty area to reward Lia’s strong run through the middle.

The midfielder met the ball with a bullet-like header which had ‘goal’ written all over it, until Petkovic produced a breathtaking one-handed reflex save to swat the ball to safety.

To assist their ‘keeper, Melbourne players were doing their utmost just to get their bodies between the ball and the goal - many’s the shot which ricocheted to safety off a perfectly placed anatomy.

Wellington helped the visitors’ cause at times by getting in each other’s way, but in the 65th minute, it was that man Petkovic again who maintained the scoreless scoreline with yet another “worldie”.

Tony Lochhead - his first full game in months following his return from injury - rampaged down the left before slipping the ball inside to Rojas. He wriggled through three challenges before belting a beauty towards the target - this time, surely. Petkovic flung himself to his right to defy local hopes once more.

And he did it again sixty seconds later. A powerful headed clearance by Sigmund sent Rojas away down the left at pace, and he delivered a gem of a cross to the far post where MacAllister was rising with menace.

The striker couldn’t believe the parried save Petkovic produced to prevent him from heading the opening goal, but had the presence of mind to prod home the loose ball from two yards out.

Wellington’s delight was uncontained, while Petkovic could only look on in despair, his efforts seemingly for nought. He produced further saves to foil Lia and Rojas, but in the 72nd minute, the latter doubled the home team’s advantage.

Ward was relishing the chance to run at his former team-mates, and scythed in off the right before slipping a pass to Rojas, who worked a one-two with MacAllister in the penalty area before stroking an unerring shot across the diving Petkovic and into the far corner of the net - 2-0, and surely no way back for Melbourne now.

The visitors had barely featured as an attacking force. They threatened just once in the first half, in the thirteenth minute when Ricardinho’s right flank raid culminated in Carlos Hernandez scuffing his shot straight at Danny Vukovic, who could well have spent the evening on the terraces with the Yellow Fever fraternity, so under-utilised were his services.

He was called into action on a couple of occasions before the final whistle, however, blocking at close quarters from Ricardinho in the 73rd minute as the striker’s legitimate penalty claims went unheeded by referee Chris Beath, Sigmund’s challenge bringing the striker to earth as he looked to produce the polished finish Melbourne’s best attack of the match merited.

It was Melbourne’s turn to survive a penalty call three minutes later, and this was as clear-cut a spot-kick as has ever been. Lia sent Rojas down the left once more, and he delivered a gem of a cross onto MacAllister’s head.

This time, Petkovic didn’t have to produce a save - Vargas clearly thrust his arm forward to direct the ball to safety, an action missed by the officials, who generally had a good game.

Melbourne’s ability to finish strongly has been a feature of their performances all season, and while they did so again on this occasion, there were no goals to reward their efforts, with Durante’s timely tackle thwarting Ricardinho twelve minutes from time, and Vukovic producing a parried save from the same player after Hernandez and the returning Danny Allsopp had combined to create the opening.

The game was long beyond the visitors, however, Wellington’s display easily their best so far this season, one which keeps them well in contention for a play-offs berth with seven games left to play.

A-League - 2010/2011 Season - 'Week' 21
7:30pm, Wednesday 5 January, 2010
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 2
(Dylan Macallister 67', Marco Rojas 72')
Melbourne Victory FC 0

    Crowd: 9,496


    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    19. Danny VUKOVIC (gk); 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c), 3. Tony LOCHHEAD; 6. Tim BROWN, 2. Manny MUSCAT, 17. Vince LIA (Leo Bertos +82'); 4. Nick WARD, Dylan MACALLISTER (9. Chris Greenacre +84'), 21. Marco ROJAS (11. Daniel de Costa +87')

    Substitutes not used: 20. Reece Crowther (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Manny Muscat 57'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Melbourne Victory FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Michael PETKOVIC (gk); 23. Adrian LEIJER, 12.Rodrigo VARGAS, 7. Matthew KEMP (19. Evan Berger +55'); 15. Tom PONDELJAK, 14. Billy CELESKI, 8. Grant BREBNER, 6. Leigh BROXHAM (Diogo Ferreira +72'); 16.Carlos HERNANDEZ, 9. RICARDINHO, 11. Marvin ANGULLO (18. Danny Allsopp +35')

    Substitutes not used: 20 Sebastian Mattei (rgk)

    Coach: Ernie Merrick

    Yellow Cards: Tom Pondeljak 4’
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Chris Beath 6/10
    Assistant Referees: Glen Lochrie, Mark Rule; Fourth official: Jan-Hendrik Hintz

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 7/10

    BOTN Player Points :

    3. Michael Petkovic (MV)
    2. Marco Rojas (WP)
    1. Nick Ward (WP)

    Match Report by Jeremy Ruane

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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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