Powell hits four in Valentine’s Day Massacre

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

Hyundai A-League – Season 11 – 2015/2016 – Round 19
5pm, Sunday 14 February, 2016 – Parramatta Stadium

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 2 (Mitch Nichols 75′, Mark Bridge 84′)
lost to
Wellington Phoenix FC 5 (Blake Powell 4′ , 20′ , 33′, 71′, Michel McGlinchey 90′ pen)

A four-goal haul from Blake Powell inspired Wellington Phoenix to score the biggest upset of the Hyundai A-League season so far on February 14, as leaders Western Sydney Wanderers found themselves on the wrong end of a 5-2 scoreline at the hands of a side which hadn’t come within a sniff of a win in their last nine matches.

The majority of the 12,589 fans on hand at Pirtek Stadium witnessed the footballing equivalent of a Valentine’s Day Massacre, as Wellington, in stifling conditions, embarrassed the table-toppers to give their season a welcome boost.

Just four minutes into the contest, they were on the board. Albert Riera won the ball in midfield and sent Tom Doyle dashing down the left, from where he delivered a measured cross to the far post for Powell to meet with a diving header which soared past Andrew Redmayne.

Wests were wondering what had hit them, but were soon pressing for an equaliser, Mark Bridge in the thick of a concerted seventh minute goalmouth scramble which was finally resolved by Andrew Durante’s decisive clearance.

Three minutes later, Bridge was in again, this time on the left, where he got away from Dylan Fox and charged into the penalty area before whipping a low cross to the far post.

Arriving on cue was Romeo Castelen, but Doyle, tracking back, did just enough to force the midfielder to direct his first-time effort against the outside of the upright, rather than inside it.

The table-toppers continued to press, with Castelen their creative force. He teamed up with Mitch Nichols in the fourteenth minute to present Bridge with a fine chance, but Glen Moss proved equal to it – a super save which kept Wellington’s noses in front.

Bridge then spurned a great chance when played through by Castelen, the striker dragging his shot past the far post when you have expected him to at least hit the target.

How his profligacy was punished seconds later, as Wellington doubled their lead with just their second attack of the game. Once again, Doyle was the unlikely architect, raiding down the left before clipping in a cross which was flicked on by new striker Hamish Watson to Powell, who controlled it before swivelling to slam a scorching left-foot half volley into the top far corner of the net from the edge of the penalty area.

2-0 after twenty minutes, yet Wests had done the bulk of the attacking. They continued to do so, Dario Vidosic steering a shot past the upright three minutes later, after Castelen had linked with the overlapping Scott Jamieson.

Cue another close call for Wellington on the half-hour, the visitors again scrambling the danger to safety following a short corner which resulted in Kearyn Baccus clipping a ball into the box which Vidosic headed into the danger zone.

Wellington’s response? Another goal, Powell completing the perfect hat-trick – header, left foot, right foot – in the 32nd minute with a peach of a chipped finish over Redmayne.

Securing possession in the centre circle, Matthew Ridenton instantly released the goal-hungry striker down the right, his well-weighted pass catching Jamieson out of position and allowing Powell to dash in behind before clipping the ball over the advancing goalkeeper, who could only look on in dismay as it arced into the net by the far post – 3-0.

That goal seemed to knock the stuffing out of the home team, who mustered just one more shot on target before the interval. Castelen’s brilliant jinking run through three challenges took him into the area, where he let fly, only to be foiled by Moss’ second superb save of the half – what Wests would have given for both those opportunities to have found the back of the net.

Instead, they nearly found themselves four goals down on the stroke of half-time, Powell turning provider this time. He combined with Michael McGlinchey down the right, with the striker’s cross, intended for Watson, being cleared to safety by Jonathan Aspropotamitis – little wonder the television commentators just say ‘Aspro’!

Both teams made changes at half-time, Wellington’s injury-enforced with Doyle having picked up a knock. Brendon Santalab was Wests’ hope to get them out of the hole in which they found themselves, and within three minutes of coming on he should have fired them back into the contest.

Instead, he blazed over from twelve yards, Scott Neville and Vidosic having combined to play in the newcomer, who quickly caught his team-mates’ bug – plenty of style in their approach play, but no substance when it came to the final pass or the finish.

Wellington were quite content with this situation, and opted to continue on with their counter-attacking ploy. They even went for route one in the 69th minute, Moss’ raking clearance being flicked on by Powell for Watson, who let rip in full flight with a shot which had Redmayne beaten all ends up, but flashed narrowly past his left-hand post.

Wests’ substitute, Liam Youlley, responded with a lovely piece of skill sixty seconds later, deftly evading three challenges before combining with Nichols, whose cross picked out Santalab. His header, executed under pressure, flashed over the bar.

The visitors promptly went downfield and, quite unbelievably, in light of their recent form, made it 4-0. Roly Bonevacia combined with Ridenton to release McGlinchey down the left, from where he flighted the perfect cross beyond the far post for Powell to meet with another stunning diving header, the ball sailing into the roof of the net nineteen minutes from time to quash any hopes Wests held of mounting a comeback.

Nichols had other ideas, however. Four minutes later, he unleashed a stunning thirty-five yarder which fair screamed into the top left-hand corner of Moss’ net – 4-1, and there was no stopping this one!

That gave the home team hope, and roused their fans, who were on their best behaviour given a repeat of the nonsense of the previous round at any time in the next twelve months will instantly see Western Sydney docked three points.

The goal they had scored gave them hope of snatching a dramatic draw out of this encounter. And after Castelen’s low cross had been scooped over his own crossbar by Fox – Bridge had been the instigator of this move, they reduced the deficit still further six minutes from time.

Substitute Jaushua Sotirio caught Louis Fenton in possession and instantly brought Bridge into play, the striker firing first-time under the wrong-footed figure of Moss to make it 4-2. Surely not …

Two minutes later, Castelen and Sotirio combined with Santalab to present Jamieson with a chance at which he snatched. Then referee Peter Green ignored very strong claims for a penalty after Bonevacia fouled Santalab in the area in his eagerness to regain possession.

Had that been awarded, then converted, it would have made for a remarkable finale. Instead, Wellington were presented with the chance to go nap from the spot themselves in the final minute, substitute Kwabena Appiah-Kubi having been hauled down from behind by Aspropotamitis.

He was the last defender, and as he trudged down the tunnel on being shown the red card, McGlinchey rattled home the penalty to confirm Wellington’s stunning 5-2 Valentine’s Day triumph over the former Asian Champions League winners, a result which no-one saw coming.

Match details

Crowd:  12,589

Western Sydney Wanderers FC: Redmayne (gk); Neville, Aspropotamitis (booked, 87; sent off, 90), Topor-Stanley, Jamieson; Pepper (Santalab, 46), Baccus (Youlley, 60), Nichols; Castelen, Bridge, Vidosic (Sotirio, 68)

Wellington Phoenix FC: Moss (gk); Muscat, Fox, Durante, Doyle (booked, 45) (Fenton, 46); Bonevacia, Riera, Ridenton; Powell (Appiah-Kubi, 81), Watson (Stevens, 72), McGlinchey

Referee: Peter Green

Ratings and points

Match  7/10
Pitch  8/10
Referee  4/10

Players points
3. Blake  Powell (WP) – could it be anyone else?
2. Romeo  Castelen (WSW)
1. Andrew  Durante (WP)

By Jeremy Ruane