Hyundai A-League - 2011/2012 - Season 7

Wellington close to within
a win of Play-Offs
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 22
4:30pm, Sunday 4 March, 2012
at Wellington Stadium, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 2
(Andrew Durante 29', Nick Ward 90')
Gold Coast United FC 0

(linked from FFA web site)

An uninspiring 2-0 win over troubled Gold Coast United at Westpac Stadium on 4 March has fired Wellington Phoenix to within three points of confirming a place in this year’s Hyundai A-League play-offs, something which will warm the hearts of the 7,431 fans who braved the chilly conditions to cheer their side to victory.

It was far from a picture-perfect display from the home team, however, as they made hard work of seeing off opponents whose very existence was threatened during the week, so much so that confirmation that this match would even take place wasn’t received until late on Friday evening.

Wellington were all over their inexperienced opponents like a rash from the outset, and contrived an unbelievable miss in just the fourth minute. Alex Smith and Manny Muscat linked with Dani Sanchez in the climax to a patient build-up which saw the Spaniard pick out Paul Ifill with his cross as the Barbados international slid in to the goalmouth.

But from the edge of the six yard box, Ifill hooked his shot past the post with the goal at his mercy - by his standards, a bad miss!

Leo Bertos was the instigator of that attack, and his bright start to the match continued in the eighth minute. His free-kick from the left picked out Sanchez, who was unable to direct his twelve yard header on target.

Four minutes later, Gold Coast ‘keeper Jarred Tyson produced the first of a string of amazing saves which kept his team in the contest. Smith released Ifill down the left, and his cross found Brown lurking on the edge of the penalty area.

Tyson flung himself to his left to paw out the midfielder’s drive, but Sanchez picked up the pieces and whipped a low cross into the goalmouth which invited Ifill to shoot. Zachary Anderson was on hand to block for a corner.

Wellington played it short, with Bertos picking out Chris Greenacre beyond the far post with a pinpoint cross. The striker deftly volleyed the ball into the near post for Andrew Durante, who couldn’t believe his eyes when Tyson kept out his six-yard header - it looked a certain goal.

Gold Coast weathered the storm and came back into the match, as evidenced in the eighteenth minute when they came within inches of taking a shock lead. Mitch Cooper broke up a Wellington raid and dashed forward in support after laying the ball off to Golgol Mebrahtu.

His young team-mate didn’t need Cooper’s help, however, Mebrahtu storming downfield before thundering a thirty yarder past the diving Mark Paston, only for the post to deny the visitors a goal from their first attack of note in the match.

Wellington stepped things up around the half-hour mark, and while they were finally rewarded with a goal, they should have added at least one more during a flurry of attacks.

The goal materialised in the 29th minute. Bertos’ free-kick was flicked on at the near post by Ben Sigmund, and Durante, lurking on the far post, was on hand to turn the ball home from point-blank range.

Cue an avalanche of chances as Gold Coast’s defence quivered and creaked. Smith intercepted a pass soon after the kick-off and fed Ifill, who slipped Brown in ten yards out from goal.

He blazed wildly wide under pressure, but the resulting goal-kick didn’t go too far, for Ifill was swiftly in possession again. This time, he checked inside and went alone, only for Tyson to smother his shot.

The overworked ’keeper was soon in action once more, Gold Coast gifting possession to Bertos in the 32nd minute. He scampered in off the left flank past two defenders to leave himself one-on-one with Tyson, and with Ifill, in the heart of the goalmouth, screaming for a pass to tap home the game’s second goal.

Bertos, unwisely, went for glory, and rightly copped an earful from Ifill after seeing Tyson turn his effort around the post. The culprit attempted to make amends with the resulting corner, Bertos’ delivery picking out Sigmund, whose header was somehow kept out by Tyson - but for him, this could easily have been a rout!

Instead, Wellington’s advantage was just one goal, one they tried to build upon again in the 36th minute. Ifill switched play to Sanchez, who picked out Brown with his cross, only for the midfielder to direct his header at the well-positioned Tyson.

The home team was less authoritative throughout the second spell of this largely one-sided affair, generally keeping the youthful Gold Coast combination at arm’s length while finding it a tad more difficult to penetrate United’s more resolute rearguard, in which Zac Anderson and Adama Traore produced solid performances.

A blocked Alex Smith shot apart, it wasn’t until the 59th minute that they threatened, Ben Sigmund’s industry engineering the opening from which Bertos whipped over a cross which Tim Brown’s glancing header directed wide of the target.

Seconds later, Paul Ifill cut in from the right and let fly, only to see Anderson block his effort to safety. Greenacre then volleyed narrowly wide from a Bertos corner as the home team threatened again ten minutes later, after which Gold Coast began to threaten as their aging opponents eased off the pace.

Only the timely intervention of Vince Lia prevented Chris Harold from getting on the end of a Traore cross fifteen minutes from time, while after Durante had twice gone close to doubling his tally for the game from Bertos corners - Tyson tipped his first effort over, while the second crept past the post, the hitherto unoccupied Mark Paston was called upon to save at the feet of Harold seven minutes from time.

The striker had been released by Daniel Bowles’ measured ball over the top on this occasion, while it was his front-running partner, Maceo Rigters, who enjoyed Gold Coast’s next chance to equalise, only to see Paston smother his shot after combining well with Michael Thwaite and substitute Peter Jungschlager.

It wasn’t until the third minute of stoppage time that Wellington finally put the game to bed. Ifill sent substitute Mirjan Pavlovic racing through on the counter-attack, only for the striker to suffer the same fate as many of his team-mates had endured in this match - yet another Tyson save.

Anderson blocked the rebound as Pavlovic looked to turn the ball home, with the striker setting up fellow substitute Nick Ward from this ricochet. Two more shots were blocked by Gold Coast defenders as the midfielder looked to make his mark, but it was third time lucky for Ward as he battered the ball home from ten yards to confirm third place for Wellington on the back of this hard-earned 2-0 win.

2011/2012 Hyundai A-League - Round 22
4:30pm, Sunday 4 March, 2012
at Wellington Stadium, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 2
(Andrew Durante 29', Nick Ward 90')
Gold Coast United FC 0

    Crowd: 7,431


    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    Mark Paston; Manny Muscat, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante, Vince Lia; Dani Sanchez (Pavlovic +67'), Tim Brown, Alex Smith (Ward +70'), Leo Bertos; Chris Greenacre, Paul Ifill

    Substitutes not used: Tony Warner (rgk), tba

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Alex Smith 37'
    Red Cards:Nil

    Gold Coast United FC :
    Player listing:
    Jerrad Tyson (gk); David Bowles, Zac Anderson, Dylan McGowan, Adama Traore; Mitch Cooper (Barker-Daish +65'), Joshua Brilliante (Jungschlager +70'), Michael Thwaite; Gol Gol Mebrahtu (Bragg +72'), Chris Harold, Maceo Rigters

    Substitutes not used: Chris O’Connor [rgk]

    Coach: Mike Mulvey

    Yellow Cards: Nil
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Kris Griffiths Jones 6/10

    BOTN Player Points:
    > 3. Jerrad Tyson (GCU)
    2. Andrew Durante (WP)
    1. Zac Anderson (GCU)

    Pitch rating: 7/10

    Game rating: 5/10

    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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