Hyundai A-League - 2011/2012 - Season 8

Melbourne Victory mars milestone match for Herbert
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 15
7:45pm, Saturday 5 January, 2013
at Melbourne Football Stadium

Melbourne Victory FC 2
(Marcos Flores 43', Marco Rojas 52')
Wellington Phoenix FC 0

Melbourne Victory resumed their pursuit of a top-two finish in the 2012-13 Hyundai A-League in front of 18,609 fans at AAMI Park on January 5, comfortably conquering Wellington Phoenix 2-0 after the visitors had enjoyed the better of the opening half-hour of action.

A lively opening twenty minutes saw a key individual battle between Melbourne’s Adama Traore and Wellington’s Benjamin Totori unfold - the defender had a fine game - but you only needed one finger to count the number of clear-cut scoring chances which materialised in this period.

It fell the way of Louis Fenton, who dashed into Melbourne’s penalty area in pursuit of Dani Sanchez’s penetrative offside trap-beating ball over the top. It wasn’t quite good enough to get the better of Nathan Coe, however, the home team’s goalkeeper racing off his line to parry at the feet of Fenton, the only player to have featured in every Wellington game this season.

The youngster also featured in a key first half incident in the 23rd minute, which referee Ben Williams got badly wrong. Enterprising play by Stein Huysegems saw Jeremy Brockie link with Fenton, who darted in between two defenders and went down under their combined challenge just inside the penalty area.

Williams, no stranger to giving Wellington a rough deal where contentious calls are concerned, not only waved away their penalty claims but promptly booked Fenton for diving. When he watches a replay, his error of judgement will be there for all to see …

The visitors shrugged off this setback and came again five minutes later, concerted Wellington pressure culminating in Tony Lochhead’s deep cross to Totori, who evaded a challenge before unleashing an acute-angled cross-shot which Coe had to save at his near post.

Another near post denial by Melbourne’s ‘keeper was necessary on the half-hour to deny Huysegems, whose thunderous volley, on receipt of another ball forward from Lochhead, represented the game’s best opportunity thus far.

Melbourne’s first chance materialised five minutes later, the patient approach play of Diogo Ferreira, Marcos Flores and Billy Celeski culminating in an angled pass for Archie Thompson which went too near Mark Paston for the striker to make an impact.

It was the opening the locals needed, however, and for the rest of the match there was really only one team in the contest. Just seconds after that close call, Ferreira and Flores linked with Marco Rojas, who jinked inside an opponent before setting up Thompson.

His touch failed him on this occasion, while the Kiwi-born striker’s off-the-ball run in the 38th minute created space for Flores to shoot. The playmaker mis-read Thompson’s intentions, however, and gifted possession to Paston.

The duo combined again to better effect three minutes later, Brockie having to beat a hasty retreat to deny Celeski the chance to benefit from his team-mates’ enterprise, moments before Paston comfortably saved a Rojas free-kick.

The former Wellington man wasn’t to be denied, however, and on receipt of Celeski’s 43rd minute pass, he fired in a cross from the left flank which Celeski glanced into the stride of Flores. From ten yards, he unleashed a fulminating half-volley past Paston to open the scoring.

1-0 to Melbourne should have become 2-0 seconds later, referee Williams turning away local calls for a penalty after Ben Sigmund lost control of the ball in his own penalty area under pressure from Thompson, who went down under the defender’s challenge as Sigmund attempted to make amends for his error.

Melbourne carried their late first half dominance into the second spell, and put themselves well on course for a return to winning ways seven minutes into the half with a second goal.

A Rojas corner was headed out by Sanchez to Spase Dilevski, who returned possession to his All Whites team-mate. Rojas promptly weaved between a couple of challenges before setting up Adrian Leijer for a shot.

The defender’s effort beat Paston but crashed against the upright, rebounding into the stride of Rojas, who gained due reward for following in by firing home another goal against his old club, this one taking him into a share of the lead for this season’s A-League Golden Boot award, as one of three players having scored ten goals.

From here on, the game became rather processional, Wellington lacking the quality and class to counter Melbourne’s possession game, which allowed the home team to engineer more goalscoring opportunities.

Such as in the 62nd minute, when Traore’s ball forward was gathered by Flores, who steered it into the stride of Mark Milligan, storming through the inside-right channel. The midfielder let fly with a swerving effort which left Paston for dead, only to crash to safety off the far post.

Four minutes later, Rojas picked out Thompson with a fine ball forward which allowed the striker to scythe inside before sweeping the ball into Milligan’s stride, this time through the inside-left channel. His curling effort from the edge of the penalty area arced narrowly past the far post.

After Paston had raced out to save at the feet of the charging figure of Ferreira, a quickly taken Melbourne free-kick allowed Rojas to reward Thompson’s angled run into the penalty area with a made-to-measure pass which the striker hit first-time across Wellington’s ‘keeper. Sadly for Thompson, it crept past the far post as well.

That 71st minute opening was followed moments later by a swashbuckling run and shot from Traore, who deserved better fate than to see his effort narrowly clear the far post.

Only a vital challenge by Fenton prevented Rojas from setting up Thompson for a third Melbourne goal after Wellington’s nemesis had slipped through two challenges and jinked his way along the by-line in the 74th minute.

Fenton departed the fray soon after, and after the otherwise inconspicuous Brockie had fired a rare opportunity wildly into the crowd, Rojas’ withdrawal five minutes from time signalled “job done” as far as Melbourne was concerned.

Lochhead had other ideas, however, breaking down the left before picking out Wellington debutant Cameron Lindsay. Coe parried his effort to safety, while the ‘keeper was relieved to see Brockie’s header fly narrowly past the post in stoppage time, after Lia and Lochhead had combined on the left as Wellington sought to halve the deficit in the time remaining.

Time was their enemy, however, meaning Wellington coach Ricki Herbert’s 152nd A-League match - no mentor has been in charge on more occasions than this - was not to end in fairytale fashion. His side more than matched Melbourne early on, but once Ange Postecoglou’s team got into their stride, they were simply too good, and were deserving 2-0 winners.

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 15
7:45pm, Saturday 5 January, 2013
at Melbourne Football Stadium

Melbourne Victory FC 2
(Marcos Flores 43', Marco Rojas 52')
Wellington Phoenix FC 0

    Crowd: 18,609


    Melbourne Victory FC :
    Player listing:
    Coe (gk); Ferreira, Leijer, Ansell, Traore; Celeski (O‘Dea +70'), Milligan, Dilevski (Broxham +60'); Rojas (Nabbout +85'), Flores, Thompson

    Substitutes not used: tba

    Coach: Ange Postecoglou

    Yellow Cards: Ansell 44', Celeski 65'
    Red Cards:Nil

    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    Paston (gk); Bertos, Sigmund, Durante, Lochhead; Totori, Lia, Sanchez, Fenton (Smith +77'); Brockie, Huysegems (Lindsay +69')

    Substitutes not used: tba

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Bertos 68', Fenton 23'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Ben Williams 5/10
    Assistant Referee 1: Hakan Anaz, 2: Jonathan Barreiro; Fourth Official: Lucien Laverdure

    BOTN Player Points:
    3. Adama Traore (MV)
    2. Marco Rojas (MV)
    1. Benjamin Totori (WP)

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 6/10

    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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