Adelaide all but end Wellington’s season

by Jeremy Ruane:

with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League 2013/2014, Round 25
3pm, Sunday 30 March, 2014 – Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 0
lost to
Adelaide United FC 1 (Marcelo Carrusca 58′ pen)

Adelaide United edged Wellington Phoenix 1-0 in a lacklustre Hyundai A-League encounter at Westpac Stadium on March 30 which effectively ends the home team’s play-off hopes, while keeping the visitors’ prospects of a top-two finish very much alive.

Urged on by another paltry crowd – just 6,453 fans were in attendance, the home team enjoyed the better of the early exchanges, Kenny Cunningham central to much that was good about Wellington’s play in this period.

The Costa Rican just overran Stein Huysegems’ sixteenth minute pass as Wellington pressed for an opener, then went close with a delicious dipping thirty yard chip of Eugene Galekovic three minutes later – the ball cleared the bar by no more than a foot.

Adelaide responded three minutes later, Galekovic’s clearance picking out Michael Marrone on the right by the half-way line. The fullback stormed towards goal, with no-one in a Wellington shirt challenging his progress prior to his low shot from the edge of the penalty area.

Thankfully for the home team, it was a typical fullback’s effort, with Glen Moss untroubled in saving Marrone’s shot. Adelaide attempted to make amends three minutes later, Fabio Ferreira’s right wing raid culminating in a low cross intended for Bruce Djite. Andrew Durante had other ideas, however – danger averted.

Durante also thwarted the progress of Isaias in the 32nd minute, after Osama Malik broke up a Wellington raid and released the midfielder down the right. Three minutes later, Ferreira also made in-roads on the right after taking advantage of an untimely stumble by Shaun Timmins. But again, Adelaide failed to make the most of the opening.

Ten minutes before half-time, Wellington had strong claims for a handling offence outside his penalty area by Galekovic waved away by referee Peter Green, who oversaw what became an increasingly niggly, stop-start affair in which yellow cards could have been issued to more than the seven players who were punished for their transgressions.

Galekovic responded to his let-off by producing the save of the match on the stroke of half-time. Manny Muscat – later to pick up his eighth booking of the campaign – played a delightful pass through into the stride of Stein Huysegems, who did everything right as he pierced the defence, only to see Galekovic produce a sound one-handed save to maintain the goalless scoreline at the interval.

After Bruce Djite had lashed a shot on the turn across the face of goal five minutes into the second half, Wellington brought Galekovic into the action again in the 54th minute.

Huysegems’ pass to Cunningham was dummied by the Costa Rican, who kept on running as the ball reached the recalled figure of Jeremy Brockie. He over-hit his through ball, however, meaning Cunningham was always going to finish second in a race for the ball with Adelaide’s goalkeeper, who smothered at the front-runner’s feet.

The key moment in the match followed three minutes later. Marcelo Carrusca’s measured pass send Tarek Elrich tearing into the Wellington penalty area, only for his progress to be unceremoniously brought to a halt by Durante’s mistimed challenge.

Referee Green had no hesitation in pointing to the spot, from where Carrusca settled the contest with a cheeky chipped finish into the roof of the net.

After Galekovic smothered a Brockie drive through a crowded goalmouth by his near post, Adelaide looked to strangle the life out of the game and out of Wellington’s season.

Indeed, they should have doubled their lead fifteen minutes from time when Elrich sent Michael Zullo through on goal with just Moss to beat. The winger refrained from shooting, however, preferring to lay the ball off for a team-mate. His passing accuracy was poor, though, the ball fizzing across the bows of the incoming Carrusca, much to the playmaker’s frustration.

During the final ten minutes, Wellington strove for an equaliser, and may well have secured it had Michael Boxall’s wild volley, following an uncleared Carlos Hernandez free-kick, not soared over the bar nine minutes from time.

Six minutes later, a vital headed clearance by Nigel Boogaard prevented Boxall from heading home a clever Roy Krishna cross, after the Fijian had cleverly outsmarted Isaias in order to engineer space to deliver the ball from near the by-line.

With that miss went Wellington’s hopes of extracting anything from the match, and the season as a whole, unlike Adelaide, whose prospects of extending their season into late April are very much alive after this 1-0 win.

Match details
Crowd: 6,453

Wellington Phoenix FC : Moss (gk); Boxall, Sigmund, Durante, Timmins (booked, 12); Lia (booked, 75), Muscat (booked, 78), Cunningham (Boyd, 79); Brockie, Ridenton (booked, 53) (Krishna, 64), Huysegems (Hernandez, 55)

Adelaide United FC : Galekovic (gk); Marrone (booked, 37), Malik, Boogaard, Elrich; Carrusca (Konstandopoulos, 83), Isaias (booked, 88), Watson; Ferreira (Mabil, 70), Djite (booked, 81), Zullo (Elsey, 90)
Ratings and points

Referee: Peter Green 5/10
Pitch: 6/10
Match: 4/10

Player points:
3. Carrusca (AU)
2. Tarek Elrich (AU)
1. Ben Sigmund (WP)

By Jeremy Ruane