Dour draw like watching Netball

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of

A-League Season 2013/2014 – Round 22

 9 March, 2014 – Westpac Stadium

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Kenny Cunningham 85′)
drew with
Perth Glory FC 1 (William Gallas 34′)

If this was the first Hyundai A-League game you’d ever seen, odds are you wouldn’t be too keen on seeing a second anytime soon!

The clash between Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory, at Westpac Stadium on 9 March, was simply dreadful! A decidedly disjointed affair, riddled with stoppages, and the subsequent lack of flow to the game – you could have been excused for thinking you were watching a netball match!

Neither referee Jarred Gillett – an error-strewn effort – nor the pitch, which played host to a rugby match thirty-six hours prior, contributed in a positive way to the overall experience, with the latter playing a significant role in the premature departure of Wellington fullback Josh Brindell-South after twenty-five minutes, the youngster badly twisting his ankle in one of the craters left behind by the egg-ball fraternity.

Prior to this incident, just two attacks of note had taken place, both of which featured Roy Krishna, who was making his first start for the home team. Latching onto Matthew Ridenton’s sixth minute pass, he unleashed a viciously struck volley from the edge of the penalty area which fizzed a foot past the far post.

Eleven minutes later, Michael Boxall released the Fijian flyer down the right. After evading a couple of challenges, Krishna’s mistimed shot beat Perth goalkeeper Jack Duncan, but was cleared off the line by William Gallas. Ridenton latched onto the clearance, but couldn’t direct his effort on target.
It was Gallas who featured extremely prominently in the game’s next moment of note – Perth’s 36th minute goal. The Frenchman intercepted a Stein Huysegems pass and, after playing the ball into Nebojsa Marinkovic, surged forward, making light of the hamstring twinge for which he had received treatment earlier in the match.

By the time Marinkovic had passed to Jacob Burns, and Perth’s captain had laid the ball into Gallas’ stride, the well-travelled defender was perfectly placed to fire Perth in front, and did so in style, his delightful curling twenty-yarder arcing round Glen Moss and into the bottom far corner of the net.

That stunned the 6,401 fans, but drew a response from Wellington, who set about restoring parity before the interval. Krishna thrashed a shot wide of the near post, while Carlos Hernandez fired a thirty-yarder down the throat of Duncan within six minutes of Gallas’ deadlock-breaker.

The woodwork denied Wellington an equaliser in the shadows of the half-time whistle. A stray Rostyn Griffiths pass was pounced on by Hernandez, who instantly released Krishna through the inside-left channel.

He darted between two defenders and steered his shot past the advancing figure of Duncan, only to look on in despair as the ball rebounded back into play off the far post – a real let-off for the visitors, who were effectively down to ten men at this stage, defender Michael Thwaite having come off second-best in a clash with Krishna which ultimately prompted Perth to withdraw him from the fray at half-time.

After the first half horror show, both teams made an effort to improve in the second spell, with Perth’s Matthew Davies – after great work down the left by Sidnei Sciola Moraes – and Huysegems both letting rip from just outside the penalty area inside the first five minutes of the half.

Neither attempt altered the scoreline, although Marinkovic’s curling 55th minute free-kick came within inches of doubling Perth’s advantage, which would have left Wellington with a mountain to climb.

Instead, they pressed on in search of an equaliser, Jack Clisby’s timely tackle thwarting Huysegems in the area in the 56th minute, while Duncan raced out to save at the feet of Krishna two minutes later, after the Fijian’s first touch had failed him on receipt of a Hernandez pass which put him through on goal with just the ‘keeper to beat.

Some fine defensive work by Gallas frustrated Kenny Cunningham twenty minutes from time, after the Costa Rican worked a one-two with Krishna, having already been denied strong penalty claims by referee Gillett, Davies having muscled Cunningham off the ball near the goal-line in the 54th minute.

Ten minutes from time, Duncan produced a superb one-on-one denial to thwart Cunningham, after Wellington newcomer Shaun Timmins had picked out his new team-mate with a measured cross to the far post.

Two minutes later, Ridenton blazed a shot over the bar after Tyler Boyd’s drive had been parried by Duncan. But Wellington were coming on strong, and the inevitable equaliser was a matter of moments away.

Boyd’s 84th minute cross picked out Cunningham, and his close-range header delighted the locals, who urged their charges on to grab a late winner, given both teams needed to secure three points from this match if their play-off prospects were to be regarded as realistic, rather than mathematic, after this encounter.

Sure enough, Wellington pounded away in the dying minutes, Huysegems twice going close with headed efforts in this period. Jason Hicks, with a rasping drive, and Ridenton also went close, the latter’s effort being grabbed by Duncan, whose saves in the latter stages of the match did much to earn last-placed Perth a precious point from a match which, suffice to say, was far from being a great advertisement for football.

Wellington Phoenix FC: Moss; Boxall, Sigmund, Durante, Brindell-South (Timmins, 25); Ridenton, Lia, Cunningham; Krishna (Boyd, 71, Hernandez (booked, 34 ((Hicks, 67), Huysegems

Perth Glory FC: Duncan; Davies, Gallas, Thwaite (O’Neill, 46), Clisby (booked, 32); Sciola Moraes, Burns, Marinkovic (booked, 90), Griffiths (McGarry, 74), Harold; Smeltz (MacLaren, 46)

Referee: Jarred Gillett

Ratings and points:
Match  2/10
Referee 2/10
Pitch 4/10

3.  Gallas (PG)
2.  Duncan (
1.  Ridenton (WP)

By Jeremy Ruane