Anfield Aristocrat sets up rare road win for Coast

by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 11 – 2015/2016 – Round 17
7:15pm, Saturday 30 January, 2016 – Lancaster Park (aka AMI Stadium), Christchurch NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Blake Powell 92′)
lost to
Central Coast Mariners FC 3 (Luis Garcia 50′, Storm Roux 53′, Mitch Austin 85′)

There had been very little to write home about in the first half of the Hyundai A-League encounter between Wellington Phoenix and Central Coast Mariners at Christchurch’s AMI Park on 30 January.

Resolute defending by the visitors, aided by a home team attack which lacked a cutting edge, meant that the only threat on goal from either side in the entire forty-five minutes was a twenty yard shot from Roly Bonevacia which was blocked by Coast’s ‘keeper, Paul Izzo.

The visitors’ pacy attack also had no end product, but the travelling side had an ace up their sleeve, and introduced him for the second half of what, till this point, had been a fairly lacklustre encounter.

Inside seven second half minutes, former Liverpool striker Luis Garcia turned the game upside down and sent Central Coast Mariners on their way to a 3-1 victory, their first win on the road in 22 matches.

After some Keystone Cops defending at both ends of the park – Dylan Fox got Louis Fenton out of jail after the fullback had erred inside the first ten seconds of the half, while a Michael McGlinchey shot was cleared by Jake McGing via Jacob Poscoliero, off whom the ball ricocheted inches past the post without the defender knowing a thing about it – the game was graced by a stroke of genius in the 50th minute.

Fabio Ferreira raced down the right, but saw his deflected cross ricochet towards Glen Moss, who inexplicably spilled the ball, with Garcia hovering nearby. Instinctively, the 2005 European Cup winner swooped on the ball and deftly back-heeled it into the net without missing a beat – a brilliant piece of skill which deserved a far greater audience than the 8,545 fans in attendance in Christchurch.

Two minutes later, Garcia turned provider. Receiving a pass from fullback Storm Roux, he provided a gorgeously weighted return pass into the stride of the Kiwi, who clipped the ball beyond the advancing figure of Moss – 2-0 after 52 minutes.

This put Wellington well and truly behind the eight ball, literally – this was the eighth game they had played since last recording a victory. They had to score next, and went about doing so with a vengeance.

Blake Powell headed a Tom Doyle cross narrowly over the bar after Roux had clipped a Joel Stevens cross, intended for the striker, over his own crossbar. Then on the hour, McGlinchey’s corner was met by Doyle, whose header was superbly kept out by Izzo.

This resulted in another corner, and a Bonevacia drive which flashed inches over the bar, much like Fox’s header from a McGlinchey corner on the stroke of half-time. Unperturbed, Wellington continued pressing, Powell flashing a volley across the face of goal before Bonevacia unleashed a 65th minute twenty-yarder which Izzo was perfectly placed to deal with.

Sixteen minutes from time, a rare Central Coast raid had that man front and central, Garcia getting in amongst Fox and Muscat to create an opening where none should have existed. On this occasion, Moss dealt with his shot, but Wellington couldn’t afford to relax while the former Spanish international was in their midst.

Unfortunately for the home team, they did so once more, although Garcia’s assist had an assist of its own on this occasion. Not before Wellington had gone close once more to halving the deficit, however, substitutes James McGarry and Kwabena Appiah-Kubi combining to present McGlinchey with a fifteen yard drive which he directed straight at Izzo.

Five minutes from time, Wellington’s fate was sealed. Garcia gathered the ball on half-way and pinged another made-to-measure ball through for Ferreira to pursue. Central Coast’s captain was offside, however, but that didn’t stop him starting to run after the ball, before pulling out of the race when he saw Mitch Austin tearing down the left at a great rate of knots.

While Wellington anticipated an offside call which, wrongly, never came from the officials, Austin rampaged on and rammed the ball home through the legs of Moss to wrap up the points for the visitors in controversial fashion.

The home team could certainly complain about the validity of the third goal, but not the overall result. And in stoppage time, they finally got the goal they had vigorously pursued throughout the second spell.

Doyle raced down the left before crossing to Powell, who, at full stretch, steered an angled shot across the diving figure of Izzo into the far corner of the net to bring about the final 3-1 scoreline, a result which only came about thanks to a player who has his own song. The tune’s the same, but the lyrics have been tweaked to reflect this match:

Luis Garcia, he drinks Sangria.
His cheeky back-heel changed the game.
Phoenix were done for when he set up two more
To clinch Central Coast’s victory.

Match details

Crowd:  8,545

Wellington Phoenix FC: Moss (gk); Fenton, Fox, Muscat, Doyle; Bonevacia (booked, 26), Riera (booked, 36), Rodriguez (Appiah-Kubi, 69); Stevens )McGarry, 75), Powell, McGlinchey

Coach: Ernie Merrick

Central Coast Mariners FC: Izzo (gk); Roux, McGing, Poscoliero (McDonald, 77), J. Rose; L. Rose (booked, 86), tella (Garcia, 46), Neill (booked, 45); Ferreira, Bingham (Fletcher, 82), Austin

Coach:  Tony Walmsley

Yellow cards: Bonevacia 26’, Riera 36’, Neill 45+1’, Liam Rose 88′

Referee: Strebre Delovski

Ratings and Points

Match  5/10
Pitch  9/10
Referee  4/10

Players points:
3.  Luis Garcia (CCM), of course!
2.  Izzo (CCM)
1.  Doyle (WP)

By Jeremy Ruane


Photo: Jaime Castaneda