Hyundai A-League - 2012/2013 - Season 8

Leaders run close
by bottom-placed rivals
By Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 24
5:00pm, Sunday 10 March, 2013
at Parramatta Stadium

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Sinji Ono 5' pen, Mark Bridge 48' pen)
Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Jeremy Brockie 22')

Hyundai A-League leaders Western Sydney Wanderers scored a competition record ninth successive victory in front of 15,809 fans on March 10, but they were made to work hard for their 2-1 win at Parramatta Stadium by a Wellington Phoenix side which didn’t play like a bottom-placed team.

The visitors matched the table-toppers stride for stride in this hard-fought encounter, and in the final minute came within a crossbar width of bringing Western Sydney’s winning streak to an end.

Instead, the league newcomers stretched their winning streak thanks to two penalties, the first of which came in the seventh minute. Glen Moss had already been forced to save smartly at the feet of Labinot Haliti when Troy Lochhead unceremoniously felled Youssouf Hersi in the area, as the fleet-footed flyer worked an opening with Mateo Poljak.

Up stepped Shinji Ono, who sent Moss the wrong way from the spot to open the scoring in a match which saw Ono and Wellington’s Dani Sanchez narrowly clear the crossbar with attempts on goal before parity was restored in the 22nd minute.

Manny Muscat’s angled ball into the penalty area picked out Leo Bertos, whose low cross was turned home by Jeremy Brockie, his fifteenth goal of the campaign earning him a share of the Golden Boot lead with Central Coast Mariners’ Daniel McBreen.

Wests’ response was swift, Aaron Mooy playing a lovely ball through for Haliti to latch onto. He steered his shot across both Moss and the far post in the 24th minute, prompting a Wellington riposte which saw Nikolai Topor-Stanley hook a Ben Sigmund header off the line four minutes later.

A wayward Muscat cross failed to do justice to Paul Ifill’s deft back-heeled pass three minutes later, while Corey Gameiro brought the best out of Ante Covic soon after, as the visitors, buoyed by their equaliser, started to ask some stern questions of their hosts.

A battle royal ensued, with every ball keenly contested and quarter neither given nor taken as both teams gave everything in a genuine arm wrestle for supremacy which made a mockery of both teams’ standings on the league ladder.

Half-time came and went, but three minutes into the second half, quite what was in Vince Lia’s mind at the particular moment he handled a wayward Hersi cross inside Wellington’s penalty area, only he will know.

It was bizarre, bordering on being beyond belief. A genuine rush of blood to the head if ever there was one! Referee Strebre Delovski awarded a penalty two seconds later - even he did a double-take before doing his duty, but there was no double-take required from the spot.

There was another penalty taker required, however, Ono having succumbed to a hamstring twinge during the interval. Up stepped Mark Bridge, and Moss was sent the wrong way once more - 2-1 Wests.

This time, the home team looked to build on the momentum Lia’s lifeline afforded them. Nikolai Topor-Stanley should have done better with an unchallenged header than to direct it straight at Glen Moss in the 55th minute, the pick of the openings they contrived in the fifteen minutes immediately after they regained the lead.

Wellington gradually worked their way back into the contest, Gameiro firing the first threat of a second equaliser in the 66th minute, after Muscat’s cross had been headed out by Topor-Stanley.

Seven minutes later, Andrew Durante picked out Brockie with a cross, and he held up play well before slipping the ball into Sigmund’s stride. The central defender fired in a cross which Covic spilled, but Ifill was unable to direct his controlled volleyed lob on target.

Brockie headed narrowly over soon after as Ifill and Sanchez combined, to which Wests responded via substitute Kwabena Appiah-Kubi, who scooted down the left before delivering a low cross for fellow substitute Dino Kresinger.

Durante was on hand to thwart this opportunity, while three minutes later, Sigmund launched himself in the way of a potential match-winner from the well-performed Poljak, after he’d been picked out by Jerome Polenz’s pass.

Poljak was the architect of another smart move ten minutes from time. Working a one-two with Bridge, he slipped the ball into Hersi’s stride as the import raced into the penalty area. But Hersi’s near post drive was tipped round the post by Moss.

Mooy’s resulting corner wasn’t cleared, allowing Appiah-Kubi to deliver another penetrating low cross into the goalmouth. Topor-Stanley was lurking with intent, but his cheeky back-heeled effort was blocked to safety.

After Moss had raced out of his area to prevent Hersi from racing through onto Poljak’s lofted pass, it was hearts in mouths time for the massed ranks of Western Sydney supporters behind the goal Wellington were attacking in the 89th minute.

Brockie was picked out with his back to goal some twenty-five yards distant, but a swift swivel and a dipping volley followed almost instantaneously. Covic was caught in no man’s land, and could only look on with increasing relief as Brockie’s attempt to level the scores in dramatic fashion cannoned off the crossbar - a real let-off for the locals.

And there was another one in stoppage time, Leo Bertos’ free-kick picking out the head of Tony Lochhead, who got the better of Covic in the air but was unable to direct his header on target, much to the delight of the fans behind the goal, who began celebrating Western Sydney’s record ninth successive victory, one which takes them five points clear at the top of the table with three rounds remaining.

Wellington, meanwhile, knew that this defeat ended any hopes they harboured of making the end-of-season play-offs for the fourth successive campaign. They have two games remaining in their season, one which promised plenty but simply hasn’t got going.

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 24
5:00pm, Sunday 10 March, 2013
at Parramatta Stadium

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Sinji Ono 5' pen, Mark Bridge 48' pen)
Wellington Phoenix FC 1
(Jeremy Brockie 22')

    Crowd: 15,809


    Western Sydney Wanderers FC :
    Player listing:
    Covic (gk); Polenz, Beauchamp, Topor-Stanley, D’Apuzzo; Poljak (La Rocca +90'), Mooy, Ono (Kresinger +46'); Hersi, Bridge, Haliti (Appiah-Kubi +69')

    Substitutes not used: tba (rgk)

    Coach: Tony Popovic

    Yellow Cards: Poljak 85'
    Red Cards:Nil

    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    Moss (gk); Muscat, Sigmund, Durante, Lochhead; Bertos, Lia, Gameiro (Boyd +69'), Sanchez (Cernak +82'); Ifill (Fenton +82'), Brockie

    Substitutes not used: tba (rgk)

    Coach: Ricki Herbert

    Yellow Cards: Durante 54'
    Red Cards: Nil

    Referee: Sebre Delovski 6/10

    BOTN Player Points:
    > 3. Mateo Poljak (WSW)
    2. Ben Sigmund (WP)
    1. Jerome Polenz (WSW)

    Pitch rating: 5/10

    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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