Lia’s late show earns late win for Wellington

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 11 – 2015/2016
4pm, Sunday 18 Octiber, 2015 – East Perth Oval (aka Nib Stadium)

Perth Glory FC 1 (Gyorgy Sandor 7′)
lost to
Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (Roy Krishna 9′, Vince Lia 89′)


Wellington Phoenix came from behind to down Perth Glory 2-1 in dramatic fashion before 8,135 fans at NIB Stadium on 18 October to record their first win in the 2015-16 Hyundai A-League.

The game started off like a house on fire, with both teams scoring inside the opening nine minutes. Wellington were first to threaten, Roly Bonevacia’s surging run culminating in a pass to Michael McGlinchey, who angled a low cross across the face of goal which neither Roy Krishna, Bonevacia nor Jeffrey Sarpong could turn home as each slid in attempting to do so.

Perth’s response saw them opening the scoring in the seventh minute. Mitch Oxborrow – his set-piece deliveries were a feature of the home team’s play throughout proceedings – fired in a corner to the far post which Wellington failed to clear, much to the delight of Gyorgy Sandor, who thundered home a volley from the edge of the goal area through the gathered throngs.

The visitors wasted little time in restoring parity. Ben Sigmund – who captained Wellington in the absence of the injured Andrew Durante – won possession near half-way and instantly fed McGlinchey, who promptly slid a delightfully weighted pass into the stride of Krishna.

The Fijian flyer stood up Michael Thwaite a treat before arrowing a low drive across Ante Covic and into the far corner of the net to level the scores in a contest which had at stake, for the first time, The Long Distance Derby Cup, an honour celebrating the 5,255km between the two cities.

Those goals set the tone for the rest of the half, with the home team next to threaten in the fourteenth minute. Antony Golec and Richard Garcia combined on the left, with the latter’s cross for Guyon Fernandez being thwarted by the well-positioned Vince Lia.

Back came Wellington, via a right-wing free-kick. Bonevacia wasted it, but gathered the rebound and delivered a gorgeous cross which begged to be done justice to by a suitable finish. Sadly for McGlinchey, he guided his header past the post from six yards when directly in front of goal.

Bonevacia continued to threaten, and in the nineteenth minute he brought the overlapping Louis Fenton into play. The fullback’s cross was intended for Krishna, but Dino Djulbic intervened, only for Sarpong to volley his attempted clearance past the post.

Five minutes later, Sarpong was proving more effective in defence, as he cleared a wicked in-swinging corner from Oxborrow off the line. Soon after, Wellington’s new Dutch recruit featured at the right end of the park again, latching onto McGlinchey’s quickly taken free-kick before setting up Krishna for a shot on the run from ten yards which Covic did well to save with his legs.

Things started getting a little willing after this close call, with Perth none too pleased with referee Stephen Lucas’ interpretations of a few incidents. The natives afforded the official the usual serenades concerning his competence and suitability for the job, and with some justification – a few of his calls were of the weird rather than wonderful variety.

Both Lia and Sigmund were forced to make diving headed clearances to deny Perth’s probings for a second goal prior to the half-time whistle, in between which Djulbic headed the ball past the post following another Oxborrow corner.

Wellington engineered the final chance of the half three minutes before its conclusion. Albert Riera picked out Sarpong with a free-kick which the Dutchman guided into the stride of Bonevacia. From twenty-five yards, he fair battered a grasscutter which skidded inches past Covic’s right-hand upright.

Whatever was in the half-time tea should be poured down the drain forthwith, because where the first half was vibrant and lively, the second spell was humdrum and sterile, and all too often scrappy.

Chances were at a premium as a result, with McGlinchey and Tom Doyle combining to present Krishna with a chance which he deftly flicked across the face of goal in the 54th minute.

Perth’s response came ten minutes later, and saw Sandor let rip from twenty-five yards. Glen Moss flew to his right to keep it out, then produced a couple more saves inside the next ten minutes to counter the threat posed by further set-piece deliveries from Oxborrow.

After Wellington substitute Blake Powell had forced a smothering save from Covic to keep out his twenty-five yarder, the numerical advantage swung towards the visitors as Garcia, Perth’s captain, was sent off for committing his second bookable offence.

Wellington didn’t need a second invitiation, and five minutes from time, substitute Alex Rodriguez picked out Doyle with a free-kick. His header struck the post, and fell invitingly for Sigmund to turn home the rebound, only for the offside flag to cut short his celebrations.

There was no sign of any infringement three minutes later, however, when McGlinchey fired in a corner. It fell invitingly at the feet of Lia, who consigned to the history books the fact that he hadn’t scored in over four years with a beautifully struck ten-yarder.

Covic got his fingertips to it, but couldn’t prevent the midfielder from winning the game for Wellington, Lia’s late strike securing a 2-1 win for the visitors, who have one hand on the Long Distance Derby Cup as a result – the trophy’s destination will be determined following the results of all three clashes between the clubs during the A-League season.

Match details

Crowd: 8,145

Perth Glory FC:    Covic (gk); Risdon (booked, 31), Djulbic, Thwaite, Golec; Harold (Gligor, 83), Sandor, Oxborrow, Garcia (booked, 81, 84 – sent off); Castro (booked, 90), Fernandez (booked, 27) (Sciola, 66)

Wellington Phoenix FC:      Moss (gk); Fenton, Sigmund, Muscat, Doyle (booked, 69) (Appiah, 86); Lia (booked, 51), Bonevacia, Riera; Sarpong (Powell, 59 (booked, 89)), Krishna (Rodriguez, 77), McGlinchey

Points and ratings

Pitch  8/10
Match  6/10

Referee  – Stephen Lucas   4/10

3.  Roly Bonevacia (WP)
2.  Mitchell Oxborrow (PG)
1.  Ben Sigmund (WP)

By Jeremy Ruane