Wellington return to winning ways at last

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

Hyundai A-League – Season 12 – 2016/2017 – Round 5
7:35pm, Saturday 8 October, 2016 –  Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 2 (Roy Krishna 21′, 41′)
Newcastle United Jets FC 0

Wellington Phoenix picked up their first points of the Hyundai A-League season on Guy Fawkes Night at Westpac Stadium, their 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets bringing to an end a horror run of form which had seen them lose their last six home games, and last eight games in total.

The locals were good value for their victory, too, with Guilherme Finkler producing his best performance of the season so far on a night when the vast majority of those in yellow and black produced individual displays of at least six out of ten in standard, if not better.

Just 5,832 fans were present to see the home team make good in-roads down the left early doors, with Costa Barbarouses leading the charge down that flank. It was Roy Krishna who had the first chance, however, only for Nigel Boogaard’s timely tackle to thwart the Fijian’s progress in the eighth minute.

Six minutes later, Finkler worked a one-two with Krishna, who still got the return pass despite the midfielder being felled from behind. Referee Shaun Evans waved play on, and the striker linked with Michael McGlinchey to set up Barbarouses for a chance which he drove straight at Newcastle goalkeeper Jack Duncan.

After Wayne Brown had fired the visitors’ first shot in anger, a twenty-five yarder at Glen Moss, Wellington took a deserved lead in the 21st minute. Finkler and Vince Lia – on his 200th A-League appearance – released Barbarouses down the left.

He drifted inside Nicholas Cowburn before darting between two defenders and unleashing a drive which Duncan could only parry into the stride of Krishna, who gained due reward for following in, to the delight of the local faithful.

When Barbarouses fired his shot, however, Krishna was in an offside position, so the goal shouldn’t have stood. To balance out the error, referee Evans ignored clear-cut Wellington penalty claims three minutes later, Krishna having been felled in the area by Johnny Koutroumbis’ challenge after a delightful move featuring Louis Fenton, Alex Rodriguez, McGlinchey and Finkler, whose back-heeled pass played Krishna in.

Miffed at having been denied the chance to double their advantage so soon after opening the scoring, Wellington laid siege to Newcastle’s goal, with Duncan having to save from Finkler seconds after cutting out a Barbarouses cross intended for the playmaker’s head.

Newcastle responded via an Andrew Hoole free-kick, which picked out Koutroumbis ten yards out from goal. While he controlled the ball well, his finish was typical of a defender at such close proximity to goal – wild and wayward, much to the relief of Andrew Durante, who became the first outfielder to play in 250 A-League games in this match.

After Duncan recovered his ground to keep Lia’s cheeky and ambitious sixty-yarder in the 32nd minute, a concerted spell of Newcastle pressure featuring Ivan Vujica, Brown and Hoole culminated in the last-mentioned delivering a corner which parted Jason Hoffman’s hair as he looked to head home an equaliser in the 39th minute.

Wellington responded by doubling their lead two minutes later. Barbarouses swooped on a stray pass on half-way and set sail downfield, three Newcastle defenders drawn to him like moths to a flame. Barbarouses promptly slipped the ball into the stride of the unmarked figure of Krishna, who slammed home from ten yards high into the net to leave Newcastle with a mountain to climb.

They sought a swift riposte, Vujica’s pass presenting Hoffman with the chance to halve the deficit in the shadows of the half-time whistle. But he dragged his shot past the far post, after which Barbarouses was twice denied, firstly by Duncan, then by Boogaard, before Lia unleashed a twenty-five yard grasscutter through a crowded penalty area and narrowly past the far post as the half drew to a close.

Wellington dominated the early stages of the second spell, but it was Newcastle who went closest to altering the scoreboard first. Brown and Hoole worked an opening which resulted in a cross for Hoffman, who was a stride away from connecting with the ball in the 53rd minute.

Back came the home team, Rodriguez and McGlinchey linking with Barbarouses, who cleverly outfoxed the defence before whipping in another cross. Krishna flicked it on, but Finkler was unable to turn the ball home on the far post.

After Duncan had a close shave when dealing with a back-pass with Barbarouses bearing down on him at a great rate of knots, Marco Rossi’s timely challenge thwarted Morten Nordstrand at close range in the penalty area as Hoole once more led the charge for the visitors.

Halfway through the second half, Finkler cleverly evaded two opponents on the right before slipping a pass to Lia. He instantly switched play to Newcastle’s nemesis, Barbarouses, who raced goalwards before battering a twenty-yarder narrowly past the far post – had he scored, it would have been a goal his performance greatly merited.

Newcastle responded via substitute Andrew Nabbout, who, on receipt of a Nordstrand pass, wriggled through three challenges to the by-line before drilling a shot past Moss, only to find Fenton on hand to avert the danger.

Moss then saved at the feet of the newcomer as he pursued a through ball from Vujica, while eight minutes from time the offside flag denied Nabbout a goal – he brought some much-needed vim and vigour to Newcastle’s attack, make no mistake.

In between times, well-performed fullback Jacob Tratt had chanced his arm from twenty-five yards for Wellington before contributing to a fine move deserving of better fate six minutes from time.

Barbarouses, substitute Roly Bonevacia and Krishna combined with Tratt, whose cross for McGlinchey hit the striker’s head and ricocheted off Cowburn to Bonevacia. He engineered some space before battering a fierce drive narrowly past Duncan’s right-hand post.

Straight away, Newcastle looked to hit back, with Vujica stinging the gloves of Moss from long-range. Before the final whistle, substitute Devante Clut went close for the visitors, after some brilliant work by Barbarouses to beat four players saw him shoot straight at Duncan when a third Wellington goal beckoned.
2-0 was their lot, however, a very welcome win for the Wellingtonians, who are finally off the mark for 2016-17 at the fifth time of asking, at the
expense of a Newcastle side which, in truth, didn’t offer a great deal as an attacking force for the second week running.

Match details

Crowd:  5,832

Wellington Phoenix FC:      Moss; Tratt, Durante, Rossi, Fenton; Finkler (Bonevacia, 81), Lia, Rodriguez; Barbarouses (Watson, 90), McGlinchey (Rufer, 90), Krishna

Newcastle United Jets FC:  Duncan; Cowburn, Boogaard, Koutroumbis, Vujica (Clut, 87); Ugarkovic (Nabbout, 64), Nordstrand, Poljak; Hoffman (Kokko, 68), Hoole (booked, 78), Brown

Points and ratings

Referee:  Shaun Evans    6/10
Match  6/10
Pitch  8/10

Player points
3.  Barbarouses (WP)
2.  Finkler (WP)
1.  Rodriguez (WP)