Maiden Wellington hat-trick inspires five-goal win

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 10 – 2014/2015 – Round 8
3pm, Sunday 30 November, 2014 – Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 5
Melbourne City FC 1


To the undisguised delight of the 7,410 fans present, Nathan Burns scored the first-ever hat-trick by a Wellington Phoenix player as they inflicted a stunning 5-1 hiding on Melbourne City at Westpac Stadium on 30 November to firmly implant themselves in the top five of the Hyundai A-League.

Yet for the first half-hour or so of this contest, the home team wasn’t even at the races! City were all over Wellington like a rash, and could quite easily have been out of sight had they taken their chances, the first of which materialised in the sixteenth minute.

Aaron Mooy – he certainly didn’t deserve to be on the losing side – unleashed a thunderous thirty-five yard free-kick which swerved and dipped violently, forcing Glen Moss into a punched save. That directed the ball skywards, and allowed the ‘keeper to recover and put off the incoming figure of David Williams, as he looked to turn home the rebound.

Seconds later, the timely covering tackle of Thomas Doyle prevented Mooy from capitalising on Jacob Melling’s raid down the left, while another Mooy piledriver was punched away by Moss soon after, as Melbourne laid siege to Wellington’s goal.

The home team’s response was led by Roly Bonevacia, whose sharp turn between Melling and Erik Paartalu caught both opponents by surprise. The Dutchman then swept past Robbie Wielaert before thrashing a twenty yarder narrowly past the far post – it was ‘Goal of the Season’ material had it gone in, such was the skill involved.

A stray Iain Ramsay pass left Patrick Kisnorbo in no man’s land and prompted Burns to rapidly pursue the ball. Andrew Redmayne raced off his line to prevent the Wellington speedster from capitalising on the blunder on this occasion, but when it happened again in the 33rd minute, the visitors weren’t so fortunate.

After Melling had gone close from twenty yards following a neat left-wing raid involving Ramsay, Williams and Mate Dugandzic, a wayward Paartalu pass was pounced on by Burns, who calmly rounded the stranded figure of Redmayne before tucking the ball home into an empty net – a goal very much against the run of play, but do you think the fans cared about that?

Of course they didn’t, and nor did their heroes in black and yellow, who seemed to grow an extra leg upon taking the lead. But they were very nearly on level terms again soon after, courtesy a stray Albert Riera pass.

The midfield anchor has been a touch off his game of late, and this wayward 35th minute pass allowed Mooy to release Dugandzic down the left. He pulled the ball back for the playmaker, but Andrew Durante stepped in to deny Mooy the goal his performance merited.

Wellington were swift to take up the running after this scare, with Michael McGlinchey leading the charge. His driving run culminated in Roy Krishna causing merry hell in Melbourne’s penalty area, the fleet-footed Fijian jinking this way and that before setting up Burns for what should surely have been a second goal.

But the striker’s volley sailed wildly wide of the target from the edge of the six-yard box – a real let-off for Melbourne, although as it turned out, it merely delayed the inevitable.

For Wellington quickly regained possession from the resulting goal-kick, McGlinchey slipping in Bonevacia, who calmly steered an angled shot beyond the diving figure of Redmayne and inside the far post – 2-0, with five minutes left till half-time.

Suddenly, Melbourne were in damage limitation mode, as they twice staved off further goalscoring opportunities prior to the interval. Manny Muscat and McGlinchey combined to feed Burns in the 42nd minute, with the last-mentioned playing a lovely ball in behind the defence anticipating a run from Krishna.

It materialised, but so did the covering run of Wielaert, who intervened on this occasion. But the defender and his team-mates were powerless to prevent the Fijian from getting on the end of a well-flighted McGlinchey free-kick in stoppage time, Krishna’s glancing header inching agonisingly past the far post to leave Wellington to enjoy a two-goal half-time lead.

Within five minutes of the start of the second spell, they had doubled it. A slalom run across the defence by McGlinchey saw him pass on possession to Burns, who had plenty to do with two defenders in front of him.

But he evaded their challenges brilliantly, engineering enough space in the penalty area from which he steered a shot beyond Redmayne – 3-0, with 47 minutes on the clock.

Three minutes later, the game was all over bar the shouting. Doyle played Krishna through the inside left channel, with nary a Melbourne defender within ten yards of him. He accelerated on before battering the ball beyond the advancing figure of Redmayne and into the top far corner – 4-0, and how!

Wellington eased off the throttle after this, and Melbourne weren’t slow to regain the ascendancy. Substitute Stefan Mauk blazed over from the edge of the penalty area in the 56th minute, following good work by Damien Duff, while Mooy twice went close from thirty yards just after the hour mark, from open play then via a free-kick which Moss punched to safety.

In the 67th minute, substitute James Brown outfoxed Bonevacia near the byline, forcing the Wellington man to trip him – in the penalty area. Referee Jarred Gillett had no hesitation, and nor did Williams, whose unerring finish beyond Moss was ultimately of consolation value only.

For Riera and company tightened things up after conceding that goal, and the visitors were rarely sighted as an attacking threat again. The same cannot be said of the home team, however, particularly substitute Michael Boxall, who was a regular invader of Melbourne’s penalty area in the latter stages of the match as he pursued a rare goal.

‘Twasn’t to be for the powerful defender, however, but there was time for Burns to complete his hat-trick – the first ever by a Wellington Phoenix player. He achieved the milestone with a twice-taken penalty five minutes from time, after Wielaert had fouled Durante in the area amid the jostling which accompanied a McGlinchey corner.

That made the score 5-1 to Wellington, a comprehensive victory for the home team, who are now six points clear of sixth-placed Melbourne, and four behind fourth-placed Sydney with the first third of the season nearly upon us.

Match details
Crowd: 7,410

Wellington Phoenix FC:      Moss; Muscat, Sigmund, Durante, Doyle (Boxall, 82); Rodriguez, Riera, Bonevacia (Ridenton, 87); Burns, McGlinchey, Krishna (Cunningham, 75)

Melbourne City FC:    Redmayne; Archibald (Hoffman, 51), Wielaert (booked, 83), Kisnorbo, Ramsay; Mooy, Paartalu (Mauk, 46), Melling (booked, 89); Duff, Dugandzic (Brown, 46), Williams

Ratings and Points
Match  7/10
Referee: Jarred Gillett  6/10
Pitch  9/10
3.  Nathan Burns (WP)
2. Aaron  Mooy  (MC)
1. Michael  McGlinchey (WP) – had Krishna not been substituted early, he’d have got the nod instead