Hyundai A-League - 2012/2013 - Season 8

Melbourne Condemn Wellington To Wooden Spoon
By Jeremy Ruane
Courtesy of

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 27
4:30pm, 31 March, 2013
at Wellington Stadium, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (Stein Huysegems 64', Jeremy Brockie 66')
lost to
Melbourne Victory FC 3
(Marco Rojas 10, Marcos Flores 55', Archie Thompson 83')

Melbourne Victory confirmed a third-placed finish for themselves in the Hyundai A-League on Easter Sunday, and at the same time condemned Wellington Phoenix to the wooden spoon for the season as the visiting team prevailed 3-2 in front of 6,813 fans at a wind-blown Westpac Stadium.

Wellington were by far the better team in the first half, first going close to scoring in the sixth minute when Adrian Leijer was caught in possession by Stein Huysegems. But the defender was able to get in a recovering block to prevent the striker from taking full advantage of the opportunity.

Four minutes later, Melbourne opened the scoring through a former Wellington player. Archie Thompson played a peach of a pass inside fullback Manny Muscat to reward the darting run round the outside of youngster Connor Pain.

Mark Paston, Wellington’s goalkeeper, who announced he would be retiring after this match, instantly anticipated the danger but lost his footing as he advanced from his goal.

Thus Pain’s first-time cross found Marco Rojas in the heart of Wellington’s penalty area with a gaping goal at his mercy, a gift Melbourne’s leading marksman didn’t spurn.

It briefly silenced the boos stupidly directed towards him every time he was on the ball by some of his fellow countrymen who still struggle to come to terms with the fact that Rojas opted for pastures further afield than Wellington Phoenix in order to grow as a footballer. Few would dispute the fact he’s made the right career move, given his form this season.

Wellington sought a swift riposte, with Jeremy Brockie powering through three challenges on the right within two minutes of the opening goal before crossing to Huysegems.

Nathan Coe parried his effort, with the ball being cleared to Corey Gameiro, an on-loan player potentially making his last appearance in a Wellington shirt. Any prospect of scoring he held went west within two seconds courtesy a thunderous tackle by Leijer which took the ball clean as a whistle and left Gameiro wondering where it had gone!

Unperturbed, Wellington pressed again, Leo Bertos feeding the overlapping Luke Rowe in the sixteenth minute. The fullback’s first-time cross arced just beyond Huysegems, but Paul Ifill was following up and picked out the Belgian with his delivery. Huysegems held up play nicely before rolling the ball into Brockie’s stride, but the Golden Boot-chasing striker couldn’t direct his effort on target.

Melbourne counter-attacked through Pain seconds later, his teasing cross-shot deceiving Paston before curling just past the far post, much to the ‘keeper’s relief.

This spurred Wellington on still further, and over the course of the next six minutes they absolutely battered Melbourne’s goal in search of an equaliser. Only a brilliant double-save by Coe prevented them from getting it in the nineteenth minute, with Huysegems and Brockie both denied by the custodian after Ifill’s cross had created the opportunity.

Seconds later, Ifill himself had a go, a tantalising chip which had Coe scrambling. The back-pedalling ‘keeper swatted it to safety, and was right behind a Gameiro drive three minutes later after the midfielder had wriggled through three challenges on the edge of Melbourne’s penalty area.

Bertos was next to feature for Wellington, his cross from a short corner inviting Gameiro to direct a glancing header goalwards. Mark Milligan diverted this to safety, while Coe produced a diving save to keep out a Bertos free-kick late in the first half, after which Brockie twice went close to giving Wellington the goal their first half efforts fully merited.

But they emerged from the dressing rooms still trailing by a goal, and their cause wasn’t aided four minutes into the second spell by the actions of referee Adam Kersey, who, frankly, bottled it!

Daniel Mullen, who had already been booked, took out Brockie with a wild lunge near the sideline which immediately prompted an outburst of flag-waving by the referee’s assistant.

Referee Kersey was of like mind, but failed to do anything more than award a free-kick after realising he had already booked the offender. It was an awful piece of officiating, one for which it is hoped he will be suitably chastised by his assessors. (Not that we’ll ever find out …)

Bertos went desperately close with a twenty-yarder soon after this incident, before Melbourne enjoyed a brief spell of dominance, their first in the match. Thompson and Rojas combined on the right, with the Kiwi’s delightful cross to the near post finding Pain arriving on cue.

Paston pulled off a fine blocking save to prevent Melbourne from doubling their lead in the 53rd minute, but he was powerless to deny them that pleasure three minutes later as his defenders let him down badly. Rojas’ corner was flicked on by Mullen to the unmarked Marco Flores, who diverted the ball into the roof of the net from close-range - 2-0.

Wellington were reeling from this blow, and Melbourne wasted little time in looking to press home their advantage. Again, the home team’s defensive marking at set-pieces was found wanting on the hour as Rojas clipped in a free-kick towards the unmarked Thompson.

Paston grabbed his glancing header, then looked on with relief three minutes later as the unmarked Leijer just failed to turn home another Rojas free-kick on the far post - quite what Wellington’s defenders were doing remains one of life’s unsolved mysteries.

Their attackers certainly knew what their job was, given they were 2-0 down - get back in the game! Over the course of the next three minutes, they did just that, making it 2-2 after 66 minutes.

The first goal was sparked by Dani Sanchez, who slipped a little gem of a ball inside the fullback for Bertos to latch onto and cross first-time from the by-line. Huysegems controlled the ball on his chest six yards out on the near post, then swivelled to rifle home a volley - 2-1, game on!

Seconds later, Sanchez again imposed his will on proceedings with another through ball, this time for Gameiro. The lunging figure of Leijer felled the Fulham loanee, but much to the disbelief of all-comers, referee Kersey again neglected his duties, instead waving play on.

Fortunately for Wellington, they weren’t disadvantaged unduly, for the ball was cleared to Ifill. He made in-roads down the right before steering a low cross into the stride of Brockie, who swept home his sixteenth goal of the season, and the 200th in Wellington’s history.

At 2-2, it was all on for young and old, and both teams went after the winner. Cameron Lindsay entered the fray twenty minutes from time, and with his first touch, he picked out Huysegems with a beautifully weighted pass which the striker controlled before stepping inside a challenge and thrashing a low angled drive towards the bottom far corner of the net.

But for Coe, it would have found its target, the ’keeper producing a superb fingertip save at full stretch to tip the shot to safety eighteen minutes from time.

Back came Melbourne, five minutes later, substitute Billy Celeski the central figure in a wonderfully intricate five-man move which saw the ball move from the substitute to Thompson, then wide to Leigh Broxham.

His cross picked out Pain, whose diving header was superbly parried by Paston. Before Rojas could ram home the rebound, Andrew Durante stepped in to clear the danger - it was a terrific move which deserved better fate.

Few would have begrudged Wellington some reward from a game in which a draw would have been enough to see Melbourne Heart occupying the bottom rung on this season’s league ladder.

But six minutes from time, any hopes the home team held of holding onto the point they had were dashed by yet another lapse in concentration while defending a set-piece.

A quickly taken Celeski free-kick found Thompson unmarked near the penalty spot, and the Otorohanga-born Australian international gleefully picked his spot past Paston to clinch a 3-2 victory for a Melbourne Victory side which heads into the A-League play-offs in winning form.

Wellington Phoenix, meanwhile, embark on a close-season in which much work must be done. Squad rebuilding is high on the priority list, but higher still is appointing a new coach from the more than 200 applicants who have been attracted by the challenge of guiding New Zealand’s only professional football club to potential Hyundai A-League glory.

2012/2013 Hyundai A-League - Round 27
4:30pm, 31 March, 2013
at Wellington Stadium, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (Stein Huysegems 64', Jeremy Brockie 66')
lost to
Melbourne Victory FC 3
(Marco Rojas 10, Marcos Flores 55', Archie Thompson 83')

    Crowd: 6,813


    Wellington Phoenix FC :
    Player listing:
    Paston (gk); Muscat, Sigmund, Durante, Rowe (Boyd +90'); Bertos, Sanchez, Gameiro (Lindsay +71'), Ifill (Fenton +81') Brockie, Huysegems
    Substitutes not used: tba

    Coach: Chris Greenacre

    Yellow Cards: Manny MUSCAT 22', Andrew DURANTE 44', Ben SIGMUND 74', Dani SANCHEZ 80’
    Red Cards: Nil

    Melbourne Victory FC :
    Player listing:
    Coe (gk); Geria, Leijer, Mullen, Galloway; Rojas (Cristaldo +78'), Milligan, Broxham (Bru +86'), Pain; Flores (Celeski +71), Thompson
    Substitutes not used: tba

    Coach: Ange Postecoglou

    Yellow Cards: Daniel MULLEN 37, Leigh BROXHAM 54’
    Red Cards: NIl

    Referee: Adam Kersey 2/10

    BOTN Player Points:
    > 3. Conor Pain (MV)
    2. Marco Rojas (MV)
    1. Paul Ifill (WP)

    Pitch rating: 8/10

    Game rating: 7/10

    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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