Wellington go top after historic win out west

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

Hyundai A-League – Season 10 – 2014/2015 – Round 21
6:30pm, Saturday 14 March, 2015 – East Perth Oval

Perth Glory FC 1 (Zadkovich 29′)
lost to
Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (Krishna 23′, 78′)


Some Australian football fans woke up on Sunday morning to find their newspapers and internet websites confirming their worst nightmare – their beloved Hyundai A-League competition being led for the first time ever by the New Zealand contenders.

Wellington Phoenix finally brought an end to Perth Glory’s tenuous grip on top spot on March 14 by downing the incumbent leaders 2-1 in front of 9,178 fans at NIB Stadium to ascend to the top rung of the league ladder for the first time in their history.

What’s more, they are there on merit, having beaten the other nine teams in the league at least once so far this season, the only team in the competition to have achieved the feat.

Both teams started this game, played in stifling humidity, like the proverbial house on fire, with Wellington twice threatening to open the scoring inside the opening 135 seconds.

A neat move culminated in Joel Griffiths’ pass to Michael McGlinchey, who evaded a challenge by allowing the ball to run past him before playing it into Roy Krishna. From an acute angle, and with team-mates arriving in the goalmouth, the Fijian rattled the side-netting just 95 seconds into the contest.

Perth took the goal-kick quickly, but when Scott Jamieson looked to play the ball back to Danny Vukovic, he didn’t see Krishna hovering with intent. The striker swooped on the sphere, and looked to beat Vukovic at his near post, but the one-time Wellington ‘keeper wasn’t having a bar of it.

Vukovic grabbed a Roly Bonevacia thirty yarder five minutes later, by which time Perth had flexed their attacking muscles for the first time, courtesy a teasing angled free-kick from Jamieson. Only Andrew Durante’s deft headed clearance prevented Dino Djulbic from capitalising on the chance as he raced in on the far post.

Durante intervened again when Perth next raided, in the eighteenth minute. A raking Vukovic clearance picked out Dragan Paljic on the left. His cross, intended for Andy Keogh, was blocked by the covering figure of Wellington’s captain, at the expense of a corner which careered untouched across the goalmouth.

After Bonevacia had wasted a thirty yard free-kick, Wellington took the lead in the 23rd minute. Vince Lia had been taken out by Paljic seconds earlier, but on this, his 150th A-League appearance, extracted revenge by igniting the move with a slide-rule pass down the right to release the overlapping Louis Fenton.

The fullback strode onto the sphere and swept a first-time cross into the goalmouth. Josh Risdon intercepted it, but his attempted clearance cannoned off the close-at-hand figure of Krishna and cannoned into the net.

Five minutes later, they threatened to double their lead. Bonevacia clipped one through for Griffiths to pursue, but Vukovic read the situation superbly and dashed out of his penalty area to head the ball away.

It landed in the general vicinity of Krishna, who, with his back to goal and well aware of Vukovic being nowhere near said target, attempted an ambitious lob on the turn. To Perth’s relief, it lacked both accuracy and distance.

The home team’s response to this threat was instant and decisive. Jamieson scampered down the left before playing the ball inside to Paljic, who steered the sphere back into the stride of Ruben Zadkovich.

The midfielder was following up in support, and without breaking stride hit the ball with ferocious power from thirty yards, the ball a blur as it flew past the diving figure of Moss and into the net via the inside of his right-hand upright. 1-1, and how – a cracking strike! You won’t see too many hit as cleanly as this from long range this year.

One of the frustrations for both teams was the refereeing of Chris Beath. It was as if he had forgotten the Law of the Game surrounding the application of advantage, because many’s the occasion when he blew for a foul when the team infringed upon was still in possession.

How his performance contrasted with that of Jarred Gillett, Wellington’s referee against Melbourne Victory a fortnight ago. His application of the advantage rule was exemplary, unlike that of Mr Beath, the frequency of whose whistle provided an unwelcome and disruptive soundtrack to this top-of-the-table encounter.

Perth had reason to give the referee dirty looks in the 38th minute, when they had a decent penalty claim turned down by Mr Beath. Paljic’s cross from the left targeted Keogh, but Manny Muscat went through the back of the striker in his eagerness to avert the danger, and will be heading to a Lotto shop this week – his luck’s definitely in on this evidence!

Wellington’s response saw Bonevacia send a fifteen yard volley sizzling over the bar two minutes later, upon receipt of a Griffiths cross. But it was Perth who had the last chance of the half, Ben Sigmund blocking a Paljic shot to safety two minutes before half-time.

The home team began the second spell in the ascendancy, and carved out two openings in the first five minutes of the half. Sigmund blocked another shot, this time from Keogh, to safety following a Daniel De Silva-inspired raid, while from the resulting corner, Zadkovich’s spectacular diving header only just failed to make contact with Nebojsa Marinkovic’s delivery to the near post.

After Vukovic had dashed off his line to thwart Krishna’s progress on the edge of his penalty area, substitute Jamie MacLaren almost marked his introduction with a thumping strike which curled narrowly past the far post in the 65th minute.

Wellington’s response, from the resulting goal-kick, saw McGlinchey scurry past three opponents before unleashing a twenty-five yarder which careered narrowly past the post.

Over the next ten minutes, Perth carved out two chances. And while MacLaren directed a header narrowly over the bar, it was only a timely save by Moss which prevented Keogh from firing the home team in front, after the striker had been picked out by Djulbic and evaded the challenges of Sigmund and substitute Michael Boxall.

Moss’ save was cleared further downfield by Albert Riera, and suddenly Wellington were on the counter-attack, as Bonevacia picked out Krishna dashing forward on the right in the 78th minute.

The Fijian had it all to do, with Scott Jamieson initially blocking the way to goal. But the defender was done like a kipper as Krishna carved a path around then inside him to engineer the opening for a fierce shot which beat Vukovic all ends up at his near post en route to the back of the net.

Trailing 2-1, Perth piled on the pressure in the last ten minutes. Moss kept out another MacLaren header, and after Wellington substitute Jason Hicks had sent another cross sizzling across the face of goal, the visitors contrived a super move as the game entered stoppage time.

Jamieson’s cross was flicked on by makeshift striker Djulbic to Keogh, who clipped the ball across the bows of the incoming figure of MacLaren when crossing from the by-line.

Still Perth pressed, but the irrepressible Sigmund and company proved too solid in the dying minutes, and when the final whistle sounded, Wellington were celebrating more than just a 2-1 victory over the league leaders – they were celebrating A-League history as first-time table-toppers, with just six rounds remaining.

Match details

Crowd:  9,178

Perth Glory FC:    Vukovic (gk); Risdon, Djulbic, Thwaite, Jamieson; R. Griffiths (Garcia, 83), Zadkovich, Marinkovic; De Silva, Keogh, Paljic (MacLaren, 64)

Wellington Phoenix FC :     Moss (gk); Fenton, Sigmund, Durante, Muscat (Boxall, 69); Lia, Riera, Bonevacia; Griffiths (Hicks, 72 (booked, 80)), McGlinchey (Doyle, 82), Krishna

Ratings and Points

Match  6/10
Pitch  8/10
Referee:    Chris Beath 3/10

Player points:
3.  Bonevacia (Phoenix)
2.  Sigmund (Phoenix)
1.  Zadkovich (Glory)