Hyundai A-League - 2012/2013 - Season 8

Defences dominate sun-drenched stalemate
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 12
5pm, Saturday 22 December, 2012
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Dani Sanchez 83')
drew with
Central Coast Mariners FC 1
(Daniel McBreen 45')

A late headed equaliser from Dani Sanchez earned Wellington Phoenix a hard-earned point from their 1-1 draw against Hyundai A-League leaders Central Coast Mariners on December 22, with just 5,961 fans turning up to watch the action at a sun-drenched Westpac Stadium.

They witnessed yet another defence-dominated encounter at “The Caketin”, with the visitors’ Trent Sainsbury and Patrick Zwaanswijk vying with home team captain Andrew Durante for man-of-the-match honours in a game of few clear-cut openings.

Wellington began in sprightly fashion, Sanchez warming the gloves of Matthew Ryan in the third minute before Zwaanswijk smartly stepped in to curtail the progress of Jeremy Brockie seconds later, after Sanchez and Manny Muscat had contrived an opening for the home team’s leading marksman.

Central Coast’s first chance came in the ninth minute, and it was one from which they should have opened the scoring. A razor-sharp counter-attack saw Tomas Rogic galloping into a gaping hole in Wellington’s defences, and with Mark Paston miles out of his goal, the playmaker fired an early shot towards the gaping target.

Much to the relief of Paston and the local faithful, the ball bounced narrowly past the post, while much to the frustration of the visitors, Wellington scrambled a bullet header from Zwaanswijk to safety two minutes later, after Michael McGlinchey had picked out the aging warrior with a pinpoint corner.

Apart from a Jeremy Brockie goal which was ruled out by the offside flag ten minutes before half-time, those incidents in the first eleven minutes were the only ones of note in a dour first half which saw the combatants largely cancelling each other out.

There was plenty of industry and perspiration, but little inspiration or end product from either team, a trend which continued throughout the majority of the second half also.

Wellington threatened to open the scoring four minutes before half-time. After Brockie had been unsuccessful with a right-flank foray seconds earlier, he found himself on the end of a Tyler Boyd cross from the same wing in the 41st minute. But the striker found Nick Montgomery blocking his path to goal, and the first half seemed certain to end without any goals to speak of.

The league leaders had other ideas, however, and right on the stroke of the interval, found the net with an effort which changed the half-time speeches of both coaches. Bernie Ibini-Isei burst into the penalty area on the left and set up Daniel McBreen for a shot.

It was inadvertently blocked by McGlinchey, who instantly controlled the ball and laid it back into the stride of Rogic. His low drive was parried by Paston straight into the stride of McBreen, who had been well onside when Rogic let fly, and gleefully tapped home his tenth goal of the season from three yards to silence the vocal locals.

The only incident of note in the first twenty-five minutes of the second half, during which the visitors generally had the better of the exchanges, saw Ryan failing to deal with a Leo Bertos cross, after the overlapping fullback had been picked out by Louis Fenton’s precise switch of play.

Bertos’ delivery was punched skywards by Ryan, who repeated the dose as the law of gravity dictated the ball’s trajectory seconds later. Sainsbury, as he generally did throughout proceedings, mopped things up.

Central Coast spurned two chances to double their lead inside the final twenty minutes. McGlinchey and Joshua Rose combined with McBreen in the 71st minute, and after turning his marker, the striker dragged a twenty-yard shot narrowly past the far post.

Two minutes later, McGlinchey surged over half-way before picking out McBreen, whose deft lay-off invited Rogic to charge through the heart of Wellington’s defence and let fly from twelve yards. Paston produced a vital save with his legs to keep his team in the contest.

Five minutes later, it was Wellington’s turn to attack, Ben Sigmund and Durante combining with Sanchez, who evaded two challenges before switching play to Bertos. His cross found Fenton arriving on the far post, but the youngster headed tamely at Ryan.

The ‘keeper instantly launched a counter-attack, with Sainsbury, McBreen, Montgomery and the overlapping Pedj Bojic all involved before the flying fullback whipped in a cross for substitute Mitchell Duke. His eighteen-yard drive - his first touch since entering the fray - was directed straight at Paston.

How costly that miss was to prove for the visitors, for, five minutes from time, and out of nothing, Wellington equalised. Substitute Benjamin Totori had the ball on the left flank and jinked inside a couple of challenges before hoisting a cross into the area.

There appeared little danger initially, but suddenly Sanchez soared above Rose and headed the ball into a gaping net, Ryan having completely misjudged the trajectory of the ball to such an extent that he was nearer the far edge of his goal area than the vicinity of the penalty spot.

It was an embarrassing error by the goalkeeper, and one which gave Wellington a dramatic confidence boost, so much so that they came close to taking the lead in the 87th minute.

Bertos and substitute Alex Smith combined on the right, with the latter’s cross picking out Totori beyond the far post. The Solomon Islands international unleashed a flying volley which ripped the side-netting of Ryan’s goal, the home team’s last chance of note in a match Central Coast didn’t deserve to lose, but one from which they’ll be peeved at having failed to extend their league lead to four points.

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 12
5pm, Saturday 22 December, 2012
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Dani Sanchez 83')
drew with
Central Coast Mariners FC 1
(Daniel McBreen 45')



    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    Paston (gk); Bertos, Sigmund, Durante, Lochhead; Lia (Smith +71), Muscat, Sanchez; Boyd (Huysegems +77'), Brockie (Totori +71'), Fenton

    Substitutes not used: Moss (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Lia 30'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Central Coast Mariners FC :
    Player listing:
    Ryan (gk); Bojic, Sainsbury, Zwaanswijk, Rose, Montgomery, McGlinchey, Rogic (Duke +77'), Hutchinson; McBreen (Anderson +90'), Ibini-Isei (Sterjovski +68')

    Substitutes not used: Pasfield (rgk)

    Coach: Graham Arnold

    Yellow Cards: Rose 65’, Bojic 39'
    Red Cards:Nil

    Referee: Peter O'Leary 6/10
    Assistants: tba ; Fourth Official: tba

    BOTN Player Points:
    > 3. Trent Sainsbury (CCM)
    2. Andrew Durante (WP)
    1. Patrick Zwaanswijk (CCM)

    Pitch rating: 9/10

    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, are as attributed.

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