Hyundai A-League Season 6

Mind-numbing fare
By Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of

A-League 2010/2011 - Round 3
3:00pm, Sunday 22 August, 2010 - Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 2
(Leo Bertos 10', Paul Ifill 61')
Central Coast Mariners FC 0

Insomniacs of the world, there is a cure for your ailment! Treat yourself to watching a replay of Wellington Phoenix's Hyundai A-League clash with Central Coast Mariners at Westpac Stadium on August 22. Mind-numbing fare, make no mistake.

What started off as a promising spectacle ran out of fizz after twenty minutes and, but for a couple of incidents thereafter, including one which deserved to grace a game far, far, far better in quality than this dire display, left true football fans waiting on the final whistle long before the watch on referee Peter O'Leary gave him reason to blow it.

Making it worse was the fact that, by winning 2-0, Wellington reached a significant milestone - 21 games without defeat at Westpac Stadium. In normal circumstances, a feat to be celebrated, but this was very much an 'After the Lord Mayor's Show' performance, by both teams. (Ed. I have no idea what that means either!]

Yet it started off with such promise. Central Coast settling quickly into a composed style of play which contrasted starkly with Wellington's more direct approach, a tactic first employed in the third minute when Tim Brown picked out Leo Bertos' dashing run in from the left flank.

When he got the ball, some twenty-five yards from goal, he had defender Pedj Bojic for company, and Mariners' goalkeeper Jess Van Stratten! Quite what reason the custodian had to charge out of his goal so prematurely only he will know, but he never got near the ball. Much to his relief, Wellington weren't able to capitalise on his going AWOL!

They did open the scoring in the tenth minute, however, and while Bertos will go down in the books as the marksman, the goal belonged to Manny Muscat. He threw the ball in to Dylan MacAllister and moved into position for a return pass, which duly arrived.

Muscat then cleverly lobbed a defender to find Chris Greenacre darting across the penalty area, at which point the fullback was off and running into the box, anticipating another return pass.

It was a peach, and allowed Muscat to ride a challenge and lure Van Stratten out of goal before slipping the ball inside him to Bertos. He will never score an easier goal - four yards out, unmarked, empty net, 1-0, thankyou very much!

A couple of probing Paul Ifill passes gave the Mariners' rearguard cause for concern in the next four minutes, Alex Wilkinson thwarting MacAllister's progress as he looked to latch onto the first one, while Greenacre did get on the end of the pass intended for him, which allowed the striker to lob the ball towards the incoming figure of Brown on the far post.

Van Stratten prevailed under pressure from the midfielder, who earned a none-too-gentle shove from the goalkeeper for his troubles. Seeing this, the 9,553-strong 'Yellow Fever' fan-base afforded Van Stratten some none-too-gentle comments about his own short-comings, and continued to do so for the duration.

After Ifill and the overlapping Muscat had combined down the right for the fullback to fire a cross across the bows of the incoming figure of MacAllister in the seventeenth minute, the visitors responded with their first opening of the match seconds later.

Brad Porter buccaneered down the right before crossing to Matt Simon, who was unable to direct his header on target, after which things got progressively worse for Central Coast from an attacking perspective, this despite Wellington goalkeeper Mark Paston pulling up with an injury on the half-hour.

He continued between the sticks, and was forced to make just one save of genuine consequence in the remaining sixty minutes, diving to his right to tip an Oliver Bozanic shot round the post eleven minutes from time, after Wilkinson had played the midfielder through the inside left channel, and he had held off the challenge of Muscat before shooting.

That effort apart, Central Coast as an attacking unit were awful - such was the inaccuracy of their shooting, they would have struggled to hit a barn door, never mind the back of the net!

Wellington weren't much better, mind, but at least they twice went close before half-time, via Brown's looping header after Greenacre and Lochhead had teamed up on the left, and MacAllister, who just failed to get on the end of an Ifill cross after Lochhead and Greenacre had again been involved in the build-up.

After the initially strong first half showing, one hoped a vastly improved second half display would be seen. Alas, no - if anything, it was worse still! Except for one moment of magic deserving of a stage far greater than this; a moment of rare quality in a distinctly uninspiring spectacle.

Central Coast had been pressing for an equaliser without truly threatening when they were caught on the break in the 61st minute. Tim Brown won possession just inside the visitors' half and, spotting Ifill's movement off the ball, promptly lofted a well-weighted pass into the striker's stride.

Speeding goal wards, Ifill took one touch to control the ball, then crowned his 400th senior appearance in football with a quite stupendous strike, an unerring finish with the outside of his left foot which swerved round the stranded Van Stratten and into the top far corner of the net.

A technically superb strike, and a rare highlight in an otherwise distinctly forgettable 2-0 win for Wellington, who climb to fourth place at this early stage of proceedings.

A-League 2010/2011 - Round 3
3:00pm, Sunday 22 August, 2010 - Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 2
(Leo Bertos 10', Paul Ifill 61')
Central Coast Mariners FC 0

    Crowd: 9,553


    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Mark PASTON (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS (10. Oscar Roberto CORNEJO +58), 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE, 17. Vince LIA, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 22. Andrew DURANTE, 23. Dylan MACALLISTER (11. DANIEL de Costa +90'+3)

    Substitutes not used: 30. Griffin McMASTER (rgk), 13. Troy HEARFIELD

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Tony Lochhead 63
    Red Cards: Nil

    Central Coast Mariners FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Jess VANSTRATTAN (gk), 3. Joshua ROSE, 4. Pedj BOJIC, 5. Brad PORTER (9. Nik MRDJA +64), 6. Patrick ZWAANSWIJK, 7. John HUTCHINSON, 8. Rostyn GRIFFITHS, 11. Oliver BOZANIC, 14. Michael McGLINCHEY, 18. Alex WILKINSON (c), 19. Matt SIMON

    Substitutes not used: 30. Matthew RYAN (rgk), 2. Daniel McBREEN, 17. Chris DOIG

    Coach: Graham Arnold

    Yellow Cards: Nik Mrdja 75'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Peter O'Leary 7/10

    Pitch rating: 7/10 - given there was an 'r'-word match on it the night before, the ground staff did a great job!

    Game rating: 1/10

    BOTN Player Points :

    3. Manny Muscat (WP)
    2. Paul Ifill (WP)
    1. Oliver Bozanic (CCM)

    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. FFA has not this season accredited any Photographers for BOTN, so any photos used here, unless attributed, are as supplied by FFA and used by permission.

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