Perth heap further woe on Wellington

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 11 – 2015/2016 – Round 18
Sunday, 7 February, 2016 – Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 0
lost to
Perth Glory FC 1 (Chris Harold 21′)

Perth Glory kept alive their remote hopes of making the Hyundai A-League play-offs this season on February 7, edging Wellington Phoenix 1-0 in front of 7,135 fans at Westpac Stadium.

In a match which, due to a string of niggling fouls, lacked flow and can most kindly be described as ordinary at best, the first chance of note materialised in the fourteenth minute.

Twenty-first birthday boy Joel Stevens was fouled on the edge of the area, but referee Jarred Gillett was in his impressionist mood throughout this match, doing a more than passable version of the three wise monkeys – see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil!

As a result, play continued, with Roly Bonevacia picking up the pieces. He squared the ball to Manny Muscat, whose lobbed pass invited Stevens to unleash a fifteen yarder which Ante Covic tipped to safety.

Perth’s response, seven minutes later, saw them open the scoring. Nebojsa Marinkovic delivered a peach of a free-kick in from the right flank which picked out Chris Harold, one of three unmarked Perth players in front of Glen Moss’ goal.

From eight yards, he powered his header into the top corner, sparking a massive inquest in Wellington’s ranks which had at its heart the question, “Where was the marking?”

Naturally, Wellington sought to redress the balance, with Tom Doyle’s measured cross to the far post in the 28th minute inviting Stevens to direct a cushioned pass into the stride of Blake Powell, whose deflected shot was grabbed spectacularly by Covic.

The offside flag twice denied Perth a second goal inside the next seven minutes. Gyorgy Sandor headed home another Marinkovic free-kick, but had mis-timed his run, unlike Harold ten minutes before half-time, when he was played through by new signing Krisztian Vadocz. The flag-bearer got the call wrong on this one, much to Wellington’s relief.

But the home team failed to capitalise on the let-off, although they did have their chances. Stevens, on receipt of a Powell pass, dashed through on the right and rolled his 37th minute shot past the diving figure of Covic, but also past the far post.

Five minutes later, Doyle caught Josh Risdon in possession and instantly released Bonevacia, who surged forward before delivering a slide-rule pass into the stride of Michael McGlinchey. His first-time ball invited Powell to shoot, but the covering figure of Marc Warren deflected the striker’s goalbound shot to safety.

Two minutes before half-time, McGlinchey darted in off the left and stood up Risdon before jinking past Andy Keogh and letting fly. Shane Lowry hacked this effort to safety, but the All White had an even better chance seconds later.

Bonevacia delivered another fine pass which the overlapping figure of Louis Fenton reached near the by-line. His first-time cross found McGlinchey six yards out, from where he somehow directed his shot straight at Covic with half the goal gaping invitingly – a real let-off for the visitors.

The second half was seven minutes old when Perth went desperately close to doubling their lead. Half-time substitute Kosta Petratos pounced on a loose ball just outside the area and set up Marinkovic for a curling eighteen yarder which was brilliantly tipped to safety by Moss.

Wellington’s response was led by Bonevacia, who took on three opponents before threading a well-weighted pass into the stride of Powell. His low cross, intended for Stevens, was cut out by Covic.

It was the last save of note Perth’s ‘keeper had to make, with Bonevacia firing a twenty yard free-kick over the bar on the hour, before scrambling defensive work thwarted the creativity of McGlinchey and Fenton as Wellington pressed for an elusive equaliser in the final minutes.

The visitors, meanwhile, again went close to doubling their advantage in the 57th minute, Keogh striking the post after dashing through with just Moss to beat, and the fast-recovering Dylan Fox closing him down with every stride.

The striker rounded the ‘keeper, but couldn’t direct his effort in between the uprights from an acute angle. While the Irishman was frustrated by this, and the number of times he fell foul of the offside trap, he and his team-mates were smiling come the final whistle, which condemned Wellington to a fourth successive defeat – they’ve taken just two points from their last nine games.

Match details

Crowd:  7,135

Wellington Phoenix FC: Moss (gk); Fenton, Fox (booked, 62), Durante, Doyle; Bonevacia, Muscat, Rodriguez (Ridenton, 63); Stevens (Appiah-Kubi, 62), Powell, McGlinchey

Perth Glory FC: Covic (gk); Risdon, Lowry, Warren, Grant; Sandor, Vadocz (booked, 45), Ferreira (Petratos, 46); Harold (booked, 38), Marinkovic (Castro, 75), Keogh

Yellow cards: Harold 39’, Vadocz 45’, Fox 62’

Referee: Jarred Gillett

Points and ratings

Match  4/10
Pitch  8/10
Referee  3/10

Players points
3.  Marinkovic
2.  Doyle
1.  Moss

By Jeremy Ruane