Wests down Wellington to maintain winning ways

By Jeremy Ruanne:
with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

Hyundai A-League – Season 11 – 2015/2016 – Round 7
5:15pm, Saturday 21 November, 2015 – Parramatta Stadium

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Piovaccari 9, Bridge 85)
Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Muscat 18)


Western Sydney Wanderers maintained their resurgence in the Hyundai A-League on November 21 as they overcame Wellington Phoenix 2-1 in front of 14,426 fans at Pirtek Stadium.

The home team squandered a great chance to open the scoring in the third minute of play when Mark Bridge’s delightfully weighted ball into the stride of Mitch Nichols saw the striker get the better of Andrew Durante, only to shoot straight at Glen Moss.

Wellington’s response, three minutes later, saw Michael McGlinchey thrash a low drive across the face of goal after Albert Riera and Alex Rodriguez had combined to prise open Wests’ rearguard.

McGlinchey came closer still two minutes later, rattling the angle of post and crossbar with a superb free-kick from the edge of the penalty area. It had adverse repercussions for Wellington, however, as from the rebound, Wests broke on the counter-attack, Nichols sending Bridge racing through from half-way with just Moss to beat.

The striker lured the ‘keeper out of goal before unselfishly squaring the ball for Federico Piovaccari to tap into an empty net to open the scoring.

Wellington were rocked by this blow, and found themselves under tremendous pressure from Wests as they looked to double their advantage. A teasing cross-shot from Nikolai Topor-Stanley – what was he doing rampaging down the left wing? – clipped the top of the crossbar in the twelfth minute.

Seconds later, a sumptuous six-man move culminated in Scott Jamieson picking out Bridge with a cross which allowed the striker to turn inside the covering defender, only to shoot straight at Moss.

On the quarter-hour, a corner was cleared to Jamieson, who, from twenty-five yards, thundered an absolute screamer through a crowded penalty area and into the net. His celebrations were cut short by referee Strebre Delovski, who was his usual inconsistent self throughout proceedings. On this occasion, he spotted a foul in the goalmouth, much to Wellington’s relief.

They celebrated by getting back on terms in the eighteenth minute, albeit very much against the run of play. Roly Bonevacia angled a pass into the stride of the overlapping Manny Muscat, who checked inside a defender before curling a shot through a seemingly invisible gap between two players, the diving figure of Andrew Redmayne and the far post, inside which the ball nestled – 1-1.

Wests continued to dominate possession after the equaliser, aided in part by the visitors’ failure to retain the ball whenever the opportunity presented itself. Ben Sigmund, meanwhile, was involved in a battle royal with Piovaccari, who was more than a little bit naughty in the 34th minute.

Nichols released Dario Vidosic down the right, and he looked to pick out the Italian with a cross. Moss reached it first, but Piovaccari clattered into the back of Sigmund, immediately in front of him, sending the defender crashing down on the turf, his head bearing the brunt of the impact.

He received treatment on the field for the blow, and appeared to recover, but five minutes into the second spell, Sigmund slumped to the turf with no-one near him, and was assisted from the field showing all the symptoms of a delayed concussion.

Piovaccari, meanwhile, escaped punishment for this challenge – you somehow suspect had Sigmund been the offender, a penalty would have been the outcome, and the defender punished by a red card.

After Sigmund’s on-field treatment, Wests resumed their raids, Moss smothering a 38th minute shot from Vidosic after he’d been picked out by Dimas’ measured free-kick from the edge of the penalty area.

The Spaniard then brought Piovaccari into play seconds later, with the Italian delivering a cross which Nichols just failed to meet with a diving header. Wellington scrambled the ball clear, but the reprieve was temporary, Andreu and Nichols linking with Dimas, whose touch gave Bridge a chance to regain the lead.

Andrew Durante’s timely intervention came at the expense of a corner, which Dimas delivered onto the head of his countryman, Alberto. Moss grabbed the effort greedily, ensuring the teams would head to the dressing rooms locked at 1-1.

Following Sigmund’s premature departure from the fray, Wellington enjoyed a brief spell around the hour mark when they threatened to take the lead. Riera’s interception allowed the otherwise anonymous Roy Krishna to set up McGlinchey for a shot which Redmayne turned round the post.

McGlinchey’s resulting corner wasn’t cleared, and dropped perfectly for half-time substitute Alex Rufer to unleash a thumping half-volley which crashed against the near post.

Wests stormed downfield and earned their own corner, Jamieson’s delivery picking out Alberto, who saw his header cleared off the line by Justin Gulley, who underlined the value of covering the space near the upright when defending a corner.

The home team kept on coming after this, with Rufer and Bonevacia the two Wellington players offering any genuine attacking options for the visitors in the face of adversity.

Their contributions weren’t suffice to stave off the inevitable, however, and after substitute Romeo Castelen head sent a header past the post following a Dimas corner, and Moss had grabbed a Scott Neville effort after the marauding fullback had attempted to beat the ‘keeper at his near post from an acute angle, Wests’ winning moment finally materialised five minutes from time.

Nichols latched onto a loose ball and surged forward, with Castelen steaming up in support on his right. A well-timed pass invited the substitute to let fly, but Durante’s fine block came at the expense of a corner.

Dimas’ delivery was flicked on by substitute Brendon Santalab to Bridge, who slammed home a beauty from the edge of the area to clinch a deserved 2-1 victory for the home team, their fourth successive triumph this season.

Match details

Crowd: 14,426

Western Sydney Wanderers FC:  1. Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 3. Scott JAMIESON, 17. ALBERTO, 4. Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 12. Scott NEVILLE, 8. Dimas DELGADO (Jacob PEPPER 90’), 18. ANDREU, 10. Dario VIDOSIC (7. Romeo CASTELEN 61’), 6. Mitch NICHOLS, 19. Mark BRIDGE, 9. Federico PIOVACCARI (Brendon SANTALAB 71’),

Yellow cards: nil
Coach: Tony Popovic

Wellington Phoenix FC: 1. Glenn MOSS (gk), 3. Justin GULLEY, 18. Benjamin SIGMUND (Louis FENTON 52’), 22. Andrew DURANTE 2. Emmanuel MUSCAT, 13. Albert RIERA, 4. Rolieny BONEVACIA (Kwabena APPIAH-KUBI 90’), 8. Alex RODRIGUEZ, 10. Michael MCGLINCHEY, 21. Roy KRISHNA, 7. Jeffrey SARPONG (Alex RUFER 46’).

Yellow cards: Rodriguez 33’, Riera 37’
Coach: Ernie Merrick

Referee: Strebre Delovski
Assistant Referees: Allyson Flynn, Andrej Gjev; Fourth official: Ben Williams

Ratings and points

Match  6/10
Pitch  8/10

Referee  4/10 – when is Strebre going to be gently eased out of the action? He really doesn’t do either team any favours with his interpretations at times.

3.  Dimas
2.  Andreu
1.  Nichols

By Jeremy Ruane