Perth consolidate Play-Off place

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 11 – 2015/2016 – Round 24
3pm, Sunday 20 March, 2016 – Westpac Stadium, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Doyle 90+2′)
lost to
Perth Glory FC 2 (Keogh 36′, Castro 74′)

Perth Glory consolidated their play-offs placing in the Hyundai A-League on March 20, downing Wellington Phoenix in front of just 5,884 fans at Westpac Stadium far more convincingly than the 2-1 scoreline suggests.

Tom Doyle’s stoppage time twenty yard thunderbolt was one of very few occasions in this clash in which Wellington threatened Ante Covic’s goal – it was Glen Moss who was by far the busier ‘keeper throughout proceedings.

He should have come under threat as early as the third minute, when Chris Harold busted Wellington’s offside trap and bore down on goal, only to lose the courage of his convictions as the penalty area loomed large before him.

His decision to look for a team-mate, rather than let fly himself, back-fired on Perth, but within seconds, they were back in possession through Krisztian Vadocz, who spotted Moss off his line and tried an audacious fifty yard chip which the back-pedalling ‘keeper managed to turn to safety.

A succession of in-swinging corners from Diego Castro followed, but Moss proved equal to these too, as was the case when Richard Garcia let fly from twenty-five yards in the 24th minute, moments after Marc Warren’s delightful cross to the far post found Castro flying in to meet it, only to guide his header well over the bar.

In a game which witnessed plenty of rugged challenges throughout – referee Ben Williams brandished the yellow card on ten occasions, six to four in Perth’s favour – Wellington’s first effort on goal materialised on the quarter hour through Michael McGlinchey, whose twenty-yarder flashed over the bar as the home team looked to get a foothold in the contest.

They never succeeded in their quest, however, and paid the price nine minutes before half-time. Fine work by Garcia on the left saw him dart between two opponents then sweep past a third before picking out Andy Keogh with a cross which the striker deftly volleyed home first time past Moss into the bottom far corner of the net.

Perth’s 1-0 lead was well deserved, and they came desperately close to doubling it within sixty seconds. Garcia was again the architect of the move, working a one-two with Castro before picking out Keogh with a cross.

He headed the ball inside to Harold, whose looping header was cleared off the line by the combined efforts of Moss and Andrew Durante, who was withdrawn from the fray at half-time due to injury.

Before then, Wellington went close to equalising on two occasions, the second of them following a fine advantage played by referee Williams. Blake Powell was denied by Shane Lowry’s fine block five minutes before the interval, while in the latter instance, McGlinchey was taken out by Garcia, but play continued as Roly Bonevacia assumed possession.

The Dutchman linked with Powell, but the combined efforts of Lowry and Alex Grant ensured Perth went to the dressing rooms a goal to the good, an advantage they deserved.

And after some pinball action early in Perth’s penalty area following Hamish Watson’s driven cross – Bonevacia failed to pull the trigger when the opportunity presented itself, it was the visitors who looked to build on their advantage with a display which silenced the measly crowd – Wellington’s lowest home gate since the final game of the 2013-14 season – long before the final whistle.

Castro led the charge in the 47th minute, doing Alex Rodriguez a treat before going desperately close with a curling effort which targeted the top far corner of Moss’ net. Two minutes later, Castro’s corner picked out the head of Grant, whose effort was cleared off the line by Doyle.

Then it was Keogh’s turn to be frustrated, Moss saving his header after Josh Risdon released Harold down the right, and the latter had duly delivered a measured cross. Seconds later, Castro again embarrassed a defender with sleight of foot – Manny Muscat was found wanting this time – before unleashing a shot which Moss turned round the post.

A rare Wellington forward foray on the hour earned them a free-kick, which was cleared back to its taker. McGlinchey’s delivery second time round was far better, a cross to the far post which the incoming figure of Doyle only just failed to get on the end of.

Back came Perth, Harold skying one from twelve yards after Castro and Keogh had carved open Wellington’s rearguard in the 68th minute. Six minutes later, the defence’s hesitancy was punished, and Perth duly celebrated their second goal of the game.

A through ball from Keogh was allowed to run by Wellington’s sluggish back-line, through which Harold burst, bristling with determination and pace aplenty. But for the efforts of Moss on two occasions, he would have made the game safe for the visitors, but the ‘keeper parried both Harold’s attempts. He couldn’t deny the lurking figure of Castro, however – 2-0.

And so nearly three sixty seconds later. Keogh led the charge down the right, with Harold having made a great run inside to fill the void the target man’s run had created. Keogh’s cross duly materialised, with the well-timed run of Gyorgy Sandor its intended target. Harold’s desire to score saw him intervene, however, only to fire wildly over the top on the turn.

Wellington sought a way back into the contest, with McGlinchey’s through ball playing in Watson. The journeyman striker was stopped in his tracks by Covic’s superb save at his feet – a terrific piece of goalkeeping, and, till he was beaten all ends up by Doyle following Watson’s stoppage time toils, the only stop Perth’s ‘keeper was called upon to make in a contest his team dominated, and deservedly won.

Match details

Crowd: 5,884

Wellington Phoenix FC:     Moss (gk); Muscat (booked, 71), Sigmund (booked, 18), Durante (booked, 34) (Fox, 46), Doyle (booked, 53); Bonevacia, Riera, Rodriguez (Lia, 64); Powell (Ridenton, 73), Watson, McGlinchey

Perth Glory FC:    Covic (gk); Risdon (booked, 59), Grant, Lowry, Warren (booked, 32) (Djulbic, 85); Harold (Reiners, 76), Vadocz (booked, 38), Sandor, Garcia (booked, 45) (Oxborrow, 64 (booked, 76)); Castro, Keogh (booked, 23)

Referee:    Ben Williams

Ratings and points

Match  6/10
Pitch  8/10

Referee  7/10 – one of his best efforts. All the bookings were perfectly justifiable. Allowed the advantage when a foul had taken place, then once play had stopped, came back to punish the offender;  would have done this on at least three occasions – it certainly wasn’t a one-off! He’s learning at long last! :-)

Players points:
3.  Keogh
2.  Garcia
1.  Harold