Hyundai A-League - 2012/2013 - Season 8

Western Sydney too good
for struggling Wellington
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 16
4:30pm, Sunday 13 January, 2013
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 0
lost to
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2
(Nikolai Topor Stanley 70', Labinot Haliti 81')

Western Sydney Wanderers condemned Wellington Phoenix to the bottom spot on the Hyundai A-League ladder for the first time this season on January 13, the visitors deservedly prevailing 2-0 at a windy Westpac Stadium to strengthen their grip on a top-four spot.

The home team were the better combination in the first forty-five minutes, Stein Huysegems leading Wellington’s attempts to break the deadlock. His swashbuckling sixty yard run in the sixth minute took him through the challenges of four defenders before Wests’ goalkeeper Ante Covic plunged to his left to save.

Eight minutes later, the Belgian striker directed a diving header well wide of the mark after being picked out by Louis Fenton’s cross. And a thunderous twenty yarder from Huysegems crashed off the crossbar in the 23rd minute after Fenton made more in-roads, this time down the right.

This came seconds after the visitors enjoyed their first opening in the match, an under-hit Ben Sigmund back-pass forcing Mark Paston to hurriedly clear his lines as Labinot Haliti closed in on the half-chance.

Paston was forced to intervene again ten minutes later, this time saving with his legs to prevent Andrew Durante putting through his own net after a searching Jerome Polenz cross found both Haliti and Aaron Mooy bearing down on the defender, who was beating a hasty retreat towards his own goal.

Either side of this close call, Covic saved from both Fenton and DanI Sanchez, before the ’keeper splendidly tipped away a vicious Vince Lia twenty-five yarder which took a deflection en route to goal, Tony Lochhead, Tyler Boyd and Sanchez having featured in the build-up to the attempt.

Western Sydney threatened twice more before the interval, Mooy being thwarted by Leo Bertos at close quarters before Sigmund was very fortunate not to concede a penalty when felling Haliti just inside the area - the defender’s trailing leg got the ball, much to the visitors’ chagrin.

There was only one team in the second half, and with the wind now at their backs, Western Sydney were able to employ an “all-court-press” strategy to full effect, forcing Wellington’s players to make numerous errors throughout the course of the second spell.

Huysegems and the decidedly anonymous Jeremy Brockie barely saw the ball during the second half, as most of the time it remained in Wellington’s half of the pitch, so successful were Western Sydney’s tactics.

Just seventy seconds into the half, the visitors would have taken the lead had Paston not battered away Haliti’s fifteen-yard snapshot. Seven minutes later, Mark Bridge directed a volley straight at Wellington’s custodian after Polenz had raided down the right once more.

Western Sydney’s pressure was building, for within seconds, Haliti dragged a shot wide of the near post following another charging run from the eye-catching Mooy, who was leading the visitors’ dominance of the midfield battle and getting under the skin of a few of his rivals - it wasn’t too long afterwards that a brief gathering of the clans took place.

Referee Shaun Evans had a part to play in this situation arising, because he allowed tackles from behind on both Benjamin Totori and Fenton to go unchecked - Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s lunge on the latter was a stonewall yellow card at the very least, but the stocky defender escaped punishment.

The visitors’ pressure finally paid dividends nineteen minutes from time. Mooy and Haliti worked a short corner routine, culminating in a cross from the former which Topor-Stanley met with a diving header at the near post. The ball bulleted past Paston and into the top near corner for a richly deserved Western Sydney goal.

Paston, who had earlier tipped a dipping twenty-yarder from Polenz over the bar, parried then gathered a rasping drive from Youssouf Hersi thirteen minutes from time, seconds after his attempted clearance had been partially charged down by Haliti, whose unselfish running and hard work as his team’s first line of defence was pivotal to their win.

The visitors could also afford to leave star player Shinji Ono on the bench till after they had taken the lead in this match, and once he came on the quality of their play improved still further.

The Japanese star worked a one-two with Bridge in the 78th minute before picking out the midfielder with a peach of a cross to the far post, only for Bridge to be denied by a superb point-blank range save by Paston.

But there was to be no denying Western Sydney a second goal, and it materialised eight minutes from time. Covic, who was largely a spectator throughout the second spell, cleared the ball downfield towards Ono, who played it inside.

Haliti pursued it, but Sigmund was always favourite to win the race, until he stumbled with Paston in close attendance. That left the pair of them to look on in horror as Haliti nipped in to tuck the ball into an empty net and crown his 100th A-League appearance with a goal his display richly deserved.

The visitors could have notched a third goal before the final whistle, Ono again at the heart of the move. He led a counter-attack which also featured Michael Beauchamp and Bridge, who picked out Ono in Wellington’s penalty area.

The substitute made a right meal of the opportunity, however, but the resulting clearance fell perfectly into the stride of fellow substitute Kwabena Appiah-Kubi, who battered a twenty-five yarder past Paston’s post with what amounted to the final act of note in a game deservedly won by the visiting team as Wellington slumped to a third straight defeat.

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 16
4:30pm, Sunday 13 January, 2013
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 0
lost to
Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2
(Nikolai Topor Stanley 70', Labinot Haliti 81')



    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    Paston (gk); Bertos, Sigmund, Durante, Lochhead (Lindsay +80'); Boyd (Totori +73') Lia (Smith +73'), Sanchez, Fenton; Brockie, Huysegems

    Substitutes not used: Moss (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Dani SANCHEZ 66', Vince LIA 68'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Western Sydney Wanderers FC :
    Player listing:
    Covic (gk); Polenz, Beauchamp, Topor-Stanley, D’Apuzo (Cole +70'); Hersi (Appiah-Kubi +79'), Poljak, Mooy (Ono +75'), La Rocca, Bridge; Haliti

    Substitutes not used: tba (rgk)

    Coach: Tony Popovic

    Yellow Cards: Iacopo LA ROCCA 31'
    Red Cards:Nil

    Referee: Shaun Evans 5/10

    BOTN Player Points:
    > 3. Labinot Haliti (WSW)
    2. Mark Paston (WP)
    1. Michael Beauchamp (WSW)

    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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