Hyundai A-League - 2012/2013 - Season 8

Wellington and Newcastle
Stop Respective Rots
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 18
4:30pm, Sunday 27 January, 2013
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Louis Fenton 21')
drew with
Newcastle Jets FC 1
(Emile Heskey 74')

Wellington Phoenix and Newcastle Jets played out a scrappy 1-1 draw at Westpac Stadium before 6,429 fans on January 27, a result which stopped the respective losing streaks of both teams.

For the home team, the point earned in this ten-a-side affair ended a record-equalling run of four successive defeats, while for Newcastle, they hadn’t even won a meat raffle - never mind a match - in their last eight visits to New Zealand’s capital, so this result was definitely one to savour.

A pity the spectacle itself wasn’t! This was far from being A-League football at its finest, given the lack of confidence permeating throughout both teams. The goals have dried up for Newcastle in recent weeks, while Wellington have come off a week in which one of their owners, Gareth Morgan, has vented his spleen on a number of club-related issues, sparing no-one from criticism in his honest outburst.

Even the club’s fans were labelled “pathetic” - harsh, certainly, although he does have a point where that puerile “shirts off if we’re winning with ten minutes to go” lark is concerned!

Thankfully, we were spared that sight in this match, which Newcastle began brightly, James Brown’s thirty-five yard free-kick being tipped over the bar by Mark Paston in the fourth minute.

Three minutes later, Craig Goodwin was the beneficiary of a fortunate ricochet after Ben Sigmund’s attempted clearance had cannoned off an opponent into the winger’s path. Goodwin promptly bore down on goal, but dragged his shot past the far post - a bad miss.

Wellington gradually got a foot-hold in the game, building pressure via a succession of crosses, most notably from Paul Ifill, and the promptings of the returning Manny Muscat, free of suspension concerns for now.

They had the chance to open the scoring in the seventeenth minute, Sigmund’s ball over the top releasing Jeremy Brockie in behind Newcastle’s defence - it was perhaps the only time in the game when he didn’t stray offside!

While he may fall short in the “game brain” department, Brockie’s goal return this season has him well in Golden Boot contention, and he was only denied his eleventh of the campaign by the head of the advancing Mark Birighitti, who knew little about what hit him, but was relieved to see it ricochet over the bar to safety.

Newcastle failed to heed this warning, for within four minutes, Wellington took the lead. This time, Sigmund sprayed the ball to the left flank, where Ifill latched onto it in fine fashion, scything inside before pinging over a cross targeting Dani Sanchez as he arrived on the far post.

The Spaniard never got to the ball, however, Birighitti diving across in front of him to flick the ball away. But the ‘keeper got his timing all wrong, and the ball cannoned off him straight into the stride of Louis Fenton, who gleefully bundled it home at the near post to leave the visitors four minutes shy of setting a new club record for minutes between goals conceded - almost four successive matches.

How Wellington would love to boast a record of that nature - they’ve kept clean sheets on just three occasions this season! And captain Andrew Durante nearly handed Newcastle an equaliser on a plate on the half-hour when his wayward back-pass invited Emile Heskey to hurtle across the ground with just Paston to beat.

The ‘keeper was just too quick for the former Liverpool striker, however, although Paston could only direct his clearance straight to Brown, whose curling effort missed the untended target by not a lot.

The next incident of note came seven minutes into the second half, when Sigmund got the better of the hard-working Heskey on half-way and sent Ifill away down the right. His low cross careered across the six-yard box, with Brockie just a stride away from turning the ball home.

It was a real close call for the visitors, whose cause was not helped by Sam Gallaway’s stupidity in the 54th minute. Having already been booked, the defender lunged needlessly at Tyler Boyd just outside the area, and for once, referee Ben Williams’ whistle was merited - too often, it wasn’t. Foul, and a second yellow card, followed by the red one, were held aloft, much to the young defender’s dismay.

Wellington failed to make the most of the goalscoring opportunity and, as it turned out, the extra man, for they mustered just one shot on goal in the next twenty minutes, a Brockie free-kick which Birighitti smothered smartly.

Otherwise, it was the ten men who made light of their numerical inferiority and began to impose themselves on the game. Heskey was proving a real handful, and a churlish foul by Durante was spotted by referee Williams, who invited Brown to pick his spot from inside the ‘D’.

His free-kick curled inches past Paston’s left-hand post, while the next time Brown appeared on the scene, in the 72nd minute, his intervention saw him eventually brought down by Tony Lochhead, who had also been booked in the first half.

Out came the yellow card again, and if the red card which followed wasn’t adequate punishment for the disappointed fullback, the outcome resulting from the free-kick he conceded most definitely was - a Newcastle equaliser.

Brown flighted his delivery to the far post, where substitute James Virgili headed the ball inside. Paston instinctively flicked it skywards, but what goes up must come down, and by the time it did, the goalkeeper found himself flailing in vain as Heskey headed home the goal his performance merited - 1-1.

Cue a curious finale, with neither team seemingly eager to go all out for three points - given their recent form, it seemed that just one would so!

Wellington went close with a fortuitous ricochet off Fenton, after Sanchez and Brockie had teamed up on the right. Birighitti plunged backwards to keep this one out eleven minutes from time, while in stoppage time, the ’keeper’s anticipation of a driven cross from Ifill, after the striker had evaded two challenges, foiled the final chance of an unimpressive encounter which neither side deserved to win.

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 18
4:30pm, Sunday 27 January, 2013
at Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Louis Fenton 21')
drew with
Newcastle Jets FC 1
(Emile Heskey 74')

    Crowd: 6,429


    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    Paston (gk); Bertos, Sigmund, Durante, Lochhead (RC); Sanchez (Totori +82'), Muscat, Fenton; Boyd (Cernak +75'), Brockie, Ifill

    Substitutes not used: Moss (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Lochhead 36', 72''
    Red Cards: Lochhead 72'

    Newcastle Jets FC :
    Player listing:
    Birighitti (gk); Neville, Chapman, Regan (Taggart +90'), Gallaway (RC); Wheelhouse, Brown (Caravella +82'), Brilliante; Griffiths, Heskey, Goodwin (Virgili +53')

    Substitutes not used: tba (rgk)

    Coach: Gary van Egmond

    Yellow Cards: Regan 17', Gallaway 32', 54'
    Red Cards:Gallaway 54'

    Referee: Ben Williams 3/10

    BOTN Player Points:
    > 3. Emile Heskey (NJ)
    2. Ben Sigmund (WP)
    1. Manny Muscat (WP)

    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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