Hyundai A-League - 2012/2013 - Season 8

What a difference
four days makes!
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 23
4:30pm, Sunday 3 March, 2013
at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Jeremy Brockie 18')
Melbourne Heart FC 0

Wellington Phoenix stunned Hyundai A-League play-offs chasers Melbourne Heart in front of their lowest ever home crowd on March 3, but the fact their 1-0 win at the Forsyth Barr Stadium was watched by just 3,060 patrons mattered not in the circumstances.

For the first time in a long time, the home team played like a team enjoying their football, and it showed.

They completely dominated a poorly performed Melbourne Heart combination which had the worst away record in the league even before this match. That Glen Moss barely had a save of note to make speaks volumes for the visitors’ efforts in a match which saw Jeremy Brockie direct an acutely angled volley against the bar in the third minute of play.

That opportunity came about from a short corner routine which Leo Bertos and Vince Lia worked well all evening. The former was a revelation in this match, having been restored to his preferred attacking midfield role, with Manny Muscat reverting to his old right-back position and Stein Huysegems recalled to lead the line in attack.

All of a sudden, one was left to ponder where this team had been all season. This was the Wellington of old, full of vim and vigour, with numerous players - not just Bertos - relishing the chance to perform with pleasure, most notably Tony Lochhead.

But it was Bertos whose star shone brightest in this indoor stadium, supplementing his frequent attacking raids with a thirty yard free-kick in the seventh minute which forced Andrew Redmayne into his first save of the evening.

The visitors briefly looked promising as an attacking force just before the quarter hour mark, with Nick Kalmar’s untimely slip preventing him from doing justice to the promising raid contrived by Jamie Coyne and David Williams, seconds before Jonatan Germano sent a thirty-yarder whistling narrowly over Moss’ crossbar, with the ‘keeper diving to his left in vain.

Back came Wellington, and for the best part of the next hour, they barely gave Melbourne so much as a sniff of the game. Huysegems rose high to meet a Brockie cross, and saw his six-yard header crash off the crossbar on the quarter hour.

Melbourne scrambled the rebound away for a corner, which Bertos played short to Lia. His angled cross found Ben Sigmund flying in on the far post, the defender’s downward header bouncing up off the hard playing surface and over the crossbar.

Three minutes later, Wellington deservedly opened the scoring. Paul Ifill - another who was back to his best in this match - rampaged down the left, and despite a host of defenders around him as if moths attracted to a flame, he whipped in a cross which found Brockie lurking in between defenders eight yards from goal.

Wellington’s leading marksman expertly hooked home a left-foot volley which left Redmayne clutching at air, and the scorer celebrating his fourteenth goal of the season - only Central Coast Mariners’ marksman Daniel McBreen has netted more.

That nineteenth minute strike should have been doubled just three minutes later. Sigmund sent Huysegems hustling through the middle, the target-man out-muscling Patrick Gerhart to put himself in on goal with just the advancing figure of Redmayne to beat.

This Huysegems did superbly, curling the ball round the ‘keeper with aplomb. But much to the Belgian’s despair, the sphere struck the far post and rebounded back into the arms of a grateful goalkeeper - it was a real let-off for the visitors.

Four minutes later, Huysegems released the overlapping figure of Lochhead down the left. The fullback’s deep cross found its way through to Ifill, who got to the by-line before whipping in a low cross which Melbourne scrambled to safety and left people rubbing their eyes in disbelief - “Is this Wellington Phoenix we’re watching?”

A rare Melbourne raid on the half-hour saw Moss deny Richard Garcia, but after this normal service resumed, with the goal defended by Redmayne invariably the target under threat.

Lochhead and Bertos combined on the left, with Brockie just failing to get on the end of the latter’s 34th minute cross, while five minutes later, Corey Gameiro sent a thirty-yarder sizzling over the bar after another Lochhead-led raid - the fullback hasn’t played as well as this for months!

Into the second spell, and there was no respite for Melbourne - Wellingon were all over them like a rash. But for all their threatening raids, they rarely threatened the target, and one began to wonder if they would pay for their failure to cash in on their dominance, especially as the effects of playing three games in a week began to play a part in proceedings.

Ifill’s rasping 57th minute effort - he jinked past two defenders before letting fly, having been picked out by Lochhead’s inch-perfect cross-field ball - was their last effort of note for twenty minutes, with Melbourne thrice going close in between times.

Williams landed a volleyed cross-shot on the roof of Wellington’s net in the 71st minute, while Muscat blocked a goal-bound twelve-yarder from Germano to safety two minutes later as the visitors began to come back into the contest.

The rebound off Muscat resulted in a corner, which Garcia delivered onto the head of Gerhart. The defender’s bullet-like effort flashed inches over the bar, prompting a Wellington riposte which saw Bertos’ shot, on receipt of Ifill’s driven cross, deflected to safety by Simon Colosimo.

The long-serving defender also featured in the next incident of note, which resulted in Huysegems committing his second bookable offence for a mis-timed and high lunge as Colosimo brought the ball over half-way. Rookie referee Brenton Hayward had no hesitation - out came the yellow card, followed by the red one.

Despite being numerically challenged, Wellington were the team who looked more likely to alter the scoreboard again before the final whistle, Redmayne just tipping away a Lia cross intended for Andrew Durante as he ghosted in on the far post in the 86th minute.

Four minutes later, Wellington’s captain pinged a free-kick upfield which saw substitute Dani Sanchez dart in behind a hesitant defender and attempt to flick the ball past the advancing Redmayne.

The ‘keeper produced a fine reflex save, but could only direct the ball towards Louis Fenton. The young substitute was unable to direct his swivelling volleyed effort on target, however, the ball flying over the gaping goal.

A last-gasp attempt to level the scores by Melbourne substitute Fred saw the former Wellington player’s effort blocked to safety by Durante, a denial which assured the home team of a first win in five matches, and the first for some time in which victory was achieved in such vibrant fashion. More please.

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 23
4:30pm, Sunday 3 March, 2013
at Forsyth Barr Stadium, Dunedin

Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Jeremy Brockie 18')
Melbourne Heart FC 0

    Crowd: 3,060


    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    Moss (gk); Muscat, Sigmund, Durante, Lochhead; Bertos, Lia, Gameiro (Sanchez +64'), Ifill (Fenton +83'); Brockie, Huysegems

    Substitutes not used: 1. Mark Paston (rgk), tba

    Coach: Chris Greenacre

    Yellow Cards: Gameiro 59', Sanchez 90', Huysegems 45', 84'
    Red Cards: Huysegems 84'

    Melbourne Heart FC :
    Player listing:
    Redmayne (gk); Walker, Colosimo, Gerhart, Coyne (Meeuwis +83'); Kalmar (Fred +63), Germano, Thompson; Garcia (Mebrahtu +63), Babalj, Williams

    Substitutes not used: tba (rgk)

    Coach: John Aloisi

    Yellow Cards: Kalmar 6'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Brenton Hayward 4/10

    BOTN Player Points:
    3. Leo Bertos (WP)
    2. Tony Lochhead (WP)
    1. Paul Ifill (WP)

    Pitch rating: 7/10

    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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