Henrique Howitzers humble Wellington

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

Hyundai A-League – Season 12 – 2016/2017 – Round 9
6:30pm, Sunday 4 December, 2016 – Hindmarsh Stadium

Adelaide United FC 2 (Henrique 26′, 39′)
Wellington Phoenix FC 0

Wellington Phoenix returned to the bottom of the Hyundai A-League table on 4 December after finding themselves on the receiving end of a couple of howitzer strikes from Henrique at Coopers Stadium, where reigning champions Adelaide United prevailed 2-0 in front of 8,539 fans.

It was a welcome win for the home team, their first of the season, in fact. And it came about thanks to two stunning strikes from their Brazilian striker, but only after the visitors had missed a penalty.

Wellington engineered the first chance in the match when a raking Glen Moss clearance sent Roy Krishna racing through in pursuit of the ball. Eugene Galekovic, United’s ‘keeper, dashed out of his area to just beat the Fijian flyer and avert the danger, and the two fully committed players couldn’t help but collide a split-second later.

Quite what referee Stephen Lucas saw to justify brandishing the yellow card to Krishna in the immediate aftermath of the incident defied logic. But it was the first of a few decisions which hailed from the ‘weird and far from wonderful’ department in this match, and the frustrations of players from both teams were never far from the surface as a result.

After Alex Rodriguez had been denied by the offside flag as he headed a Guilherme Finkler free-kick against the post, the offside flag was conspicuous by its absence in the sixteenth minute, as Marcelo Carrusca and Henrique combined to send Sergi Guardiola dashing in off the left. Moss made a super save at his near post to deny the striker.

It was Galekovic’s turn to make a fine save next, in his case to deny Krishna from the penalty spot after Adam Parkhouse had been hauled down by Dylan McGowan twenty minutes into the contest.

Soon after, an off-the-ball incident resulted in Iacopa La Rocca grabbing Andrew Durante round the neck, prompting a retaliatory act by the Wellington captain, for which he was rightly booked. But for the perpetrator? Not a thing.

Adelaide opened the scoring in the 26th minute – and how! Carrusca’s cross wasn’t cleared by Wellington’s defence, allowing James Holland to latch onto it on the far side of the penalty area and roll it back into the stride of Henrique, who, from twenty yards, unleashed an absolute thunderbolt which rocketed into the corner of the net, to the delight of the local faithful.

It triggered a terrific spell of pressure from the home team, with Durante’s vital clearance denying Guardiola on the half-hour, after Carrusca and the lively Ryan Kitto had combined on the right.

Sixty seconds later, Moss grabbed a Kitto header, while Marco Rossi blocked another Henrique drive four minutes later, after another Carrusca cross had been blocked by Wellington’s defence.

The visitors offered some resistance in this spell, initially via Roly Bonevacia, whose fine work on the left resulted in Rodriguez being presented with the chance to let fly. Galekovic turned his effort to safety, then smothered a Costa Barbarouses strike eight minutes before half-time.

Two minutes later, Adelaide doubled their advantage, and it was arguably better than the first strike, which is saying something! Carrusca and Isaias stood over a free-kick on the left-hand edge of Wellington’s penalty area, and with all-comers expecting an inswinger from the former, the latter rolled the ball across the top of the eighteen yard box …

Striding onto it was Henrique, who hit the ball first-time from twenty-five yards with such venom and ferocity that Moss was still diving to his left when the ball was rebounding off the back of the net behind him – an unerring strike which put United on course for their first win of the campaign, nine games into it.

Wellington sought a swift riposte, Parkhouse combining with Krishna on the left to present Bonevacia with a chance which the Dutchman battered towards the target.

Galekovic saved well to his right, however, and was the more concerned ‘keeper early in the second half as the visitors sought a way back into the contest, saving a Finkler free-kick either side of attempts from Krishna, neither of which was on target.

Cue a couple more gatherings of the clans, the first coming on the hour after Finkler went through the back of Guardiola, who retaliated, but wasn’t booked – consistency, anyone?

Eight minutes later, Bonevacia was furious for having been booked as a result of Isaias doing referee Lucas like a kipper courtesy his con-man routine. His Lazarus-like conversion to a fully mobile midfielder less than sixty seconds later calmed oily waters not one whit!

In between times, a spot of football was witnessed. Durante had blocked a Guardiola shot after an attack led by Henrique, before Barbarouses failed to direct a header on target on receipt of a Parkhouse cross to the far post.

Sixteen minutes from time, Bonevacia’s mood wasn’t humoured when Holland caught him in possession on half-way and promptly stormed forward. Rossi blocked his effort to safety, while in the next four minutes, the offside flag denied Wellington’s Hamish Watson a goal, and Kitto had one denied him because he used his hand to control the ball on receipt of a corner.

Wellington threatened again eleven minutes from time, Vince Lia’s angled ball in behind the defence looked to reward Krishna’s well-timed and acutely-angled run in behind Adelaide’s rearguard to meet it. Sadly for the visitors, the ball was just too far in front of him, Galekovic’s gloves the ultimate recipient.

The Fijian caused more problems just shy of the final whistle, with McGowan curtailing his progress in timely fashion, four minutes after Moss made another fine save to deny substitute Marc Marino, who raced through onto a Guardiola pass to find himself with just the ‘keeper to beat.

There was nothing Moss could do about the two goals which beat him, however, Henrique’s howitzers handing Adelaide a very welcome victory, which lifts them off the bottom of the table, with the team they defeated replacing them.

Match details

Crowd:  8,539

Adelaide United FC:  Galekovic (gk); Elrich, McGowan (booked, 20), La Rocca, Garuccio; Holland, Isaias (booked, 32) (Makarounas, 89), Carrusca; Kitto (Marino, 82), Guardiola, Henrique (Mileusnic, 72)

Wellington Phoenix FC: Moss (gk); Tratt, Durante (booked, 22), Rossi, Parkhouse (Fenton, 76); Rodriguez (Watson, 61), Bonevacia (booked, 69), Lia (booked, 77); Barbarouses, Finkler (Ridenton, 76), Krishna (booked, 5)

Points and ratings

Match  5/10
Pitch  8/10

Referee  Stephen Lucas   2/10

Player points:
3.  Kitto
2.  Moss
1.  Carrusca

Postscript:  It was announced on Monday 5 December that Ernie Merrick has stepped down from his position as Wellington Phoenix FC Head Coach.