Hyundai A-League - 2011/2012 - Season 7

Referee Loses The Plot In Wellington Sunshine
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 2
4:30 pm, Sunday 16 October, 2011
at Westpac Stadium Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Tim Brown 19’, Daniel 61')

Newcastle Jets FC 0

(linked from FFA web site)

October 16 was a lovely sunny day in New Zealand’s capital city, ideal conditions for Wellington Phoenix’s first home fixture in the 2011-12 Hyundai A-League, with Newcastle Jets providing the opposition in front of 7,623 fans at Westpac Stadium.

By and large, it was a fairly sterile encounter, certainly in the first half. The visitors barely mustered a shot in anger throughout the entire match, meaning Wellington were little troubled in setting themselves up for what would eventually be a 2-0 win.

A far greater source of problems for the home team was referee Matt Gillett, particularly after he lost the plot half-way through the second half. What had basically been a trouble-free Sunday stroll up to this point suddenly turned into a tinderbox situation, with the official finding reason to book three Wellington players in two minutes, actions which changed the entire tone of the match.

But wait - it gets worse! Seven minutes from time, Ben Sigmund and Tony Lochhead were within three yards of Newcastle striker Ryan Griffiths when Nick Ward, one of the aforementioned trio booked, brought down his opponent with a tackle from behind - a yellow card, certainly, which, being his second booking, would have seen him sent off.

He was sent off, but via a straight red card, referee Gillett deeming Ward’s challenge to be a professional foul which denied a goalscoring opportunity. With two other defenders in close proximity? Yeah, right!

Off went Ward, although his red card was later rescinded - what does that tell you about the official’s decision? And before the final whistle, he was joined in Wellington’s dressing room by Tim Brown.

He was also booked during that flurry of attention-seeking officiating half-way through the second half, and was shown a second yellow card by the referee in stoppage time for time-wasting at a throw-in - he picked up the ball to throw it in, then dropped it behind him upon hearing Manny Muscat’s call that he would take it, and was booked for doing so!

So in the end, Newcastle lost to nine-man Wellington. And the visitors didn’t get a single player booked in the process. Hardly surprising, mind - they only fired two shots in anger worthy of being regarded as such in the entire match!

They were a poor advert for the A-League, were Newcastle, but they were five-star quality compared to referee Gillett. Quite frankly, he lost the plot, and Wellington’s “Yellow Fever” fan base weren’t slow in making known their views of his efforts, serenading the card-wielding whistle-blower with some of their choicest chants, surely the most accurate of which was “You’re not fit to referee”.

There is one positive thing which can be said about Mr Gillett - his contribution, abysmal though it was, meant something noteworthy could be written about the game, because without his bewildering decisions, this was a poor spectacle, made so by the fact that Newcastle simply didn’t compete.

Wellington did as they pleased throughout proceedings, despite suffering an early setback when Paul Ifill aggravated his groin injury inside the first fifteen minutes. But just three minutes after his premature departure, the home team were celebrating their first goal, Ward’s pinpoint cross from the right headed home by Brown as he ghosted in between defenders.

Dani Sanchez drew a smothering save from Ben Kennedy two minutes later, after which play meandered along until eight minutes before half-time, when Brown spurned a glorious chance to double the home team’s advantage when taking one too many touches to control a super cross from the impressively performed Leo Bertos.

Daniel Cortes - Ifill’s replacement - and Sanchez both failed to find the target in the shadows of the half-time whistle, while three minutes after the resumption, Brown and Bertos combined to present Chris Greenacre with a chance he volleyed narrowly wide.

After Kennedy had made a fine save to his left to deny Greenacre seconds later, the striker was thwarted by Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s cool defending on the hour, as the visitors’ captain, with Greenacre on his shoulder, calmly chested the ball back to Kennedy after Bertos’ buccaneering run down the left from half-way culminated in an inviting near post cross.

Wellington were celebrating again soon after, however. In the 61st minute, Brown picked out Bertos with a pass, and Lochhead steamed up outside the winger on the overlap. A precise pass into his stride resulted in a gorgeous cross to the far post which Daniel, sliding in, steered home into the corner of the net despite the challenge of Sung Hwan Byul.

2-0 up and on easy street, Wellington went into cruise mode, only for referee Gillett to start making his mark on proceedings in a manner no-one anticipated. His antics roused Newcastle into life, with Jobe Wheelhouse lashing a snapshot which was easily dealt with by Wellington’s debutant goalkeeper, former Liverpool bench-warmer Tony Warner, who never made a single first-team appearance for “The Reds” in his six years at Anfield.

That incident roused Wellington into life again as an attacking force, with Greenacre pouncing on a Topor-Stanley slip only to be let down by Sanchez’s failure to produce a supporting run of conviction in the 78th minute.

Sanchez attempted to make up for this shortcoming by getting on the end of a Daniel cross and directing a looping header goal wards. Kennedy gathered it, but stood no chance whatsoever when Daniel unleashed an absolute bullet of a twenty-five yard free-kick eight minutes from time.

The post came to Newcastle’s aid on this occasion, and from the rebound they surged downfield. Griffiths led the charge, and had three Wellington players converging on him as he approached their penalty area, one of whom was Ward, from behind …

Cue the first sending-off, which revived Newcastle’s flagging spirits, so much so that they fired a second shot in anger three minutes from time - Byul’s thumping half-volley sizzled over the bar from fifteen yards.

Back came Wellington, Bertos forcing a save from Kennedy after his initial cross had been blocked. And after Brown’s dismissal, substitute Alex Smith came within inches of scoring a sensational solo goal in stoppage time, racing past three opponents on a run from half-way before lashing a shot past Kennedy which crashed into the side-netting.

That was the last act of a match which saw Wellington climb to third upon winning as they pleased, 2-0. But at what price? The two dismissals, added to their burgeoning injury list, will hit Ricki Herbert’s already threadbare squad particularly hard, especially when one considers their next game is the league’s longest road trip - westward ho, to Perth. [Ed. Ward's Red has been overturned by MRP].

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 2
4:30 pm, Sunday 16 October, 2011
at Westpac Stadium Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Tim Brown 19’, Daniel 61')

Newcastle Jets FC 0

    Crowd: 7,623


    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    20. Tony WARNER (gk), 2. Manny MUSCAT, 3. Tony LOCHHEAD, 6. Tim BROWN (RC), 7. Leo BERTOS, 8. Paul ILFILL (11. DANIEL Cortes 14’), 9. Chris GREENACRE, 12. Nick WARD (RC), 18. Ben SIGMUND, 21. Dani SANCHEZ (24. Alex SMITH +79’), 22. Andrew DURANTE
    Substitutes not used: 4. Brent GRIFFITHS, 30. Phillip IMRAY (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Manny MUSCAT 22', Tony LOCHHEAD 66', Nick WARD 69', Tim BROWN 70'
    Red Cards: Nick WARD 82', Tim BROWN 90'

    Newcastle Jets FC :
    Player listing:
    1. Ben KENNEDY (gk), 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 5. Tiago CALVANO, 6. Ben KANTAROVSKI, 7. Kasey WEHRMAN (2. Taylor REGAN +80’), 8. Jeremy BROCKIE (17. James VIRGILLI +68’), 11.Tarek ELRICH, 12. Jobe WHEELHOUSE, 13. BYUN Sung-Hwan, 18. Marko Jesic (22. Ali ABBAS +56’), 23. Ryan GRIFFITHS
    Substitutes not used: 19. Mathew Nash (rgk)

    Acting Coach: Craig Deans

    Yellow Cards: Nil
    Red Cards:Nil

    Referee: Matt Gillett 1/10 - For leaving the country after the game, otherwise 0/10
    Assistant Referees: ; Fourth official:

    BOTN Player Points:
    > 3. Leo Bertos (WP)
    2. Daniel Cortes (WP)
    1. Nikolai Topor-Stanley (NJ)

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 4/10

    Match Report and ratings: 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 implicitly supplied by FFA and used by assumed permission.

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