Hyundai A-League Season 6

Wellington Ward Off Winless Sydney
By Jeremy Ruane
(with the compliments of

A-League 2010/2011 - Round 6
7:15pm, Saturday 11 September, 2010 - Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 2
(Paul Ifill 50' (pen), Nick Ward 72')
Sydney FC 1
(Bruno Cazarine 67')

Wellington Phoenix piled further pressure on reigning Hyundai A-League champions Sydney FC at Westpac Stadium on September 11, downing the bottom-placed side 2-1 in front of 8,453 fans thanks to a crackerjack winner from Nick Ward.

The home team started like a house on fire, with Manny Muscat stinging Liam Reddy's gloves with a twenty-yarder just eighty seconds into the match. Tim Brown went closer still in the eighth minute, his header clipping the top of Sydney's crossbar after a super solo raid by Paul Ifill saw him evade four challenges before picking out his team-mate with a precise cross.

Ifill then came within inches of scoring himself in the twelfth minute, arrowing a low twenty-yard volley through a crowded goalmouth and just past the post after Leo Bertos' corner had been headed out by the rock-solid Stefan Keller.

Bertos, Ifill and Muscat all required treatment for knocks before the interval, as did Wellington captain Andrew Durante, and it was while he was off the park that Sydney first flexed their muscles as an attacking force, via inaccurate long-range efforts from Sung Hwan Byun and Stuart Musialik.

In the 22nd minute, the visitors had a great chance to open the scoring, Rhyan Grant sending Scott Jamieson down the left in pursuit of an angled pass. Debutant Wellington goalkeeper Danny Vukovic came out to tidy things up, but made a right mess of the situation, and it was left to Ben Sigmund to spare his team-mate's blushes in the ensuing chaos, the defender blocking Bruno Cazarine's shot to safety.

Sydney came more into their own after these incidents, and easily enjoyed the better of possession. What they did with it was something else, however - they had as much bite in attack as a toothless man without his dentures!

Defences dominated, for by now Wellington were struggling to make much head-way in the attacking third of the pitch, despite the best efforts of Chris Greenacre, who ran his socks off for the cause.

A couple of Bertos-inspired opportunities roused the game from its slumbers just after the half-hour mark. Durante just failed to make contact with the winger's free-kick to the far post in the 33rd minute, while seconds later another Bertos charge culminated in Ward unleashing a twenty-yarder over the bar.

Hirofumi Moriyasu replied in kind soon after following a quickly taken free-kick on the left, but it wasn't until the last moments of the first half that the deadlock looked like being broken.

Even then, neither team had reason to celebrate, with Reddy saving a Sigmund header following a Bertos cross, while Cazarine had a header deflected to safety following the neat combination play of Moriyasu, Grant and Jamieson.

What had been yet another uninspiring A-League game - there really are too many such spectacles in this competition, so it should be no surprise that fans are voting with their feet by way of dwindling attendances - was given the much warranted kick in the backside it needed inside the first five minutes of the second half.

Bertos swung over a corner, but referee Chris Beath had his eyes elsewhere, saw what he was looking for and immediately pointed to the penalty spot before brandishing a yellow card in Cazarine's face, the striker having bundled over Sigmund in an off-the-ball incident.

Up stepped Ifill to send Reddy the wrong way from the spot, and Wellington had the lead after fifty minutes.

The goal rocked Sydney, but it did nothing for the quality of the game - if anything, it got worse for a period, neither team able to maintain possession for any more than four passes at a time. A very disjointed affair, which was punctuated in the 58th minute by a rare noteworthy moment, as Reddy's gloves were stung by a rasping twenty-five yarder from Ward.

Seven minutes later, Sebastian Ryall headed clear to thwart Bertos, after Ifill had worked a neat one-two with the well-performed Troy Hearfield before clipping over an inviting cross, the move having been instigated by Tony Lochhead's cross-field pass.

Sydney simply hadn't looked like it in attack, so what happened in the 67th minute was akin to a bolt out of the blue! Byun belted the ball forward to Cazarine, who held the ball up well before working a one-two with Mark Bridge.

The striker's return pass to his front-running colleague was a peach, and Cazarine gleefully steered it beyond the dive of Vukovic and into the far corner of the net; 1-1, and a lovely goal to boot.

Wellington's response? They needed just five minutes to restore their lead, and how! Ward, making his first start for his new club, rampaged down the left before linking with the tireless Greenacre, whose return pass invited his new colleague to step inside a defender and unleash an unerring twenty yard drive into the top far corner of the net - a cracking strike, one worthy of winning any match.

The home team looked to build on their 2-1 advantage straight away, with Bertos lashing a twenty-five yarder narrowly over the bar before Reddy came out of his penalty area to thwart Greenacre, before he could capitalise on Hearfield's ball forward.

A couple of free-kicks from Byun gave Sydney hope inside the last ten minutes, but their lack of attacking impetus continued until stoppage time, when, following a long-range shot by substitute Kofi Danning, they came desperately close to grabbing a second equaliser.

Danning's cross wasn't cleared, and the ball sat invitingly near the penalty spot for a few seconds before Shannon Cole appeared on the scene. As he did, so did Sigmund, whose challenge took the ball off the Sydney player's toes and diverted it, via the incoming figure of Sigmund, narrowly past Vukovic's left-hand post.

It was a let-off for Wellington, one which Sydney couldn't capitalise upon from the resulting corner. Instead, the home team cleared their lines and, via Ifill's industry, came close to grabbing a third goal at the death, Bertos heading his team-mate's cross from the by-line past the near post.

Wellington had done enough to win, however, this 2-1 triumph extending their unbeaten run on home turf and the winless streak of Sydney, who have mustered just two points from their six A-League games to date this season, and look unlikely to improve greatly on that tally while they appear so desperately short of ideas, imagination and penetration in the attacking third of the pitch.

A-League 2010/2011 - Round 6
7:15pm, Saturday 11 September, 2010 - Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 2
(Paul Ifill 50' (pen), Nick Ward 72')
Sydney FC 1
(Bruno Cazarine 67')

    Crowd: 8,453


    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    19. Danny Vukovic (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 4.Nick WARD, 6. Tim BROWN, 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul IFILL, 9. Chris GREENACRE (14. Mirjan PAVLOVIC +82'), 13. Troy HEARFIELD, 18. Ben SIGMUND, 22 Andrew DURANTE (c)

    Substitutes not used: 11. DANIEL de Costa, 23. Dylan MACALLISTER, 30. Griffin MCMASTER (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Nil
    Red Cards: Nil

    Sydney FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Liam REDDY (gk), 2. Sebastian RYALL, 3. Stephan KELLER, 6. Hirofumi MORIYASU (16. Terry ANTONIS +80'), 8. Stuart MUSIALIK (c), 9. Bruno CAZARINE, 12. Shannon COLE, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 21. Scott JAMIESON (11. Kofi DANNING +66'), 22. BYUN Sung-Hwan, 23. Rhyan GRANT (5. Hayden FOXE +87;)

    Substitutes not used: 20. Ivan NECEVSKI (rgk)

    Coach: Vitislav Lavicka

    Yellow Cards: Bruno CAZARINE 49
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Chris Beath 6/10

    Pitch rating: 7/10

    Game rating: 4/10

    BOTN Player Points :

    3. Chris Greenacre (WP)
    2. Sebastian Ryall (SFC)
    1. Nick Ward (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. 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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