Double standards on display as Perth pip Wellington

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 12 – 2016/2017 – Round 14
6pm, Thursday 6th January, 2017 – East Perth Oval

Perth Glory FC 2 (Griffiths 45+1′, Taggart 51′)
Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Krishna 11′)

Perth Glory scored a come-from-behind 2-1 Hyundai A-League win over Wellington Phoenix at NIB Stadium on January 5 which, while it will have delighted the 9,210 fans present, highlighted once more the double standards employed by match officials whose actions prompt comments from those affected which are then deemed by the powers that be to bring the game into disrepute.

Referee Shaun Evans should have said charge brought against him after his display in this encounter, in which Wellington striker Roy Krishna was sent off for executing a slightly mis-timed tackle which deserved no more – and certainly no less – than a yellow card.

Given this tackle was deemed worthy of instant dismissal, pray tell how Perth striker Andy Keogh only received a yellow card from the official for head-butting Wellington defender Marco Rossi in the midriff in the dying minutes of the match?

Indeed, one wonders what colour the card would have been if Rossi had been the offender. The evidence previously presented, both in this match and previous A-League fixtures, would suggest the visitors would have finished the match with nine players on the park, had the defender been the villain rather than the victim.

Little wonder Wellington Phoenix’s fans often chant, “Same old Aussies, always cheating!” There is ample evidence, based on Evans’ efforts in this match alone, to suggest that this oft-sung terrace hymn has much more merit to it than our West Island brethren would care to admit.

Wellington produced their best forty-five minutes of the season in the opening half of this match, first threatening in the sixth minute when Costa Barbarouses pounced on Alex Grant’s blunder and played Krishna in on goal with just Liam Reddy to beat.

The goalkeeper prevailed in fine fashion in this one-on-one situation, but after Rossi had blocked Diego Castro’s drive, after Chris Harold and Adam Taggart had combined to set him up, it was a mistake by Reddy which handed Wellington the lead.

The visitors’ recent acquisition, Shane Smeltz, began his second spell with Wellington in this match against another of his previous employers, and he it was who was the catalyst for the eleventh minute goal.

Receiving a pass from Barbarouses, he turned and slipped the ball inside for Krishna, whose angled shot from ten yards squeezed under the diving figure of Reddy and rolled over the line before the ‘keeper could retrieve the situation for Perth’s benefit.

The home team had reason to berate referee Evans on the quarter-hour, and their fans made it known exactly what they thought of him after he got in the way of a Perth attack, preventing Milan Smiljanic from shooting as he looked to let fly after Taggart rolled a pass into his stride.

Wellington’s defence was working overtime at this point to prevent Perth’s attempts to level the scores, and the ultimate measure of their success in this regard was that Glen Moss didn’t have to save a single shot in the entire first half.

Indeed, as the half wore on, the visitors would be the more dominant side, with Reddy forced to smother efforts from Adam Parkhouse and Barbarouses before the latter linked with Krishna and Smeltz in the 23rd minute.

The newcomer’s deft footwork in the penalty area enabled him to evade two challengers before forcing Reddy into a parried save from ten yards. Parkhouse’s bid to turn home the loose ball was scrambled clear by Perth’s defence, which faced steady Wellington pressure throughout the rest of the half.

When it was breached, Reddy came to the rescue, racing out of goal in the 36th minute to prevent Smeltz from capitalising on Krishna’s through ball, before producing a fine parried save to deny Barbarouses two minutes before half-time.

Just prior to that, Jacob Tratt had headed a Smiljanic cross to safety as Perth pursued a late equaliser, which materialised in stoppage time. It was worth the wait, however, Rostyn Griffiths’ thunderous twenty-five yard drive careering past Moss after Keogh and Taggart had combined on the left to open up Wellington’s defence.

There was only one team in it from the outset of the second spell, Griffiths firing the first warning shot from thirty yards just thirty seconds into the half! Moss smothered this effort, but after Keogh had a goal harshly ruled out by the offside flag – replays suggested he was level at worst – Perth took the lead in the 51st minute.

Keogh worked a one-two with the highly influential Castro on the left before clipping a delicious cross to the near post, where Taggart was arriving on cue to power a soaring header beyond Moss and turn the situation on its head completely.

Very soon afterwards, Moss kept out a cross-shot from Castro, while in the 62nd minute, the game’s fate swung very firmly in Perth’s direction after Krishna’s ill-timed tackle on Shane Lowry which referee Evans deemed to be ruthless and fully deserving of the red card he brandished.

The eleven men swiftly took advantage of their numerically challenged rivals, who had been further handicapped by the understandable withdrawal of Smeltz just before the dismissal, this being his first game for some weeks.

Moss was soon called into action, keeping out a cross-shot from Harold before turning a header from the same player round the post in fine fashion. Castro and Keogh then sent shots narrowly over the bar before Griffiths and Castro unleashed twenty-five yarders which blistered the paintwork on the posts as the ball sped by.

Ten minutes from time, a brief lull in Perth’s pressure allowed Wellington to threaten, Roly Bonevacia doing so via a fierce twenty-yarder which Reddy saved well low to his left. He also had to keep out a Hamish Watson effort before the final whistle.

In between these threats, Perth twice threatened through Keogh, who was thwarted by Tratt’s timely tackle on the first occasion, Moss greedily grabbing the striker’s header on the other.

After another Harold-led raid came to nought, tempers, which had been on the verge of boiling point for some time, boiled over when Keogh took umbrage to Rossi’s close marking and committed what, in matches as significant as a FIFA World Cup Final, is widely regarded as an offence punishable only by dismissal.

Here, he was only shown a yellow card for leading with his head. Wellington’s ire was justified, and was further fuelled in the final seconds when Smiljanic hauled Andrew Durante to the ground in the penalty area as Barbarouses delivered a corner.

The visiting captain’s anger increased all the more as referee Evans, rather than blowing his whistle to award Wellington a last-gasp penalty, instead blew for full-time – it’s a wonder Durante managed to refrain from lashing out at the official in response to his indifference.

The natives were happy, however, Perth having prevailed 2-1 to maintain their fifth placing, the best of the also-rans in a ten-team competition in which only four teams are truly in title contention.

Match details

Crowd:  9,210

Perth Glory FC:   Reddy (gk); Risdon (booked, 88), Lowry, Grant, Mills; Harold (Chianese, 90), Smiljanic, Griffiths, Castro (booked, 42); Taggart (Marinkovic, 82), Keogh (booked, 90))

Wellington Phoenix FC:  Moss (gk); Tratt, Durante, Rossi, Doyle (booked, 76); Bonevacia (Fenton, 81), Rodriguez (booked, 39), Parkhouse (Ridenton, 65); Krishna (sent off, 62), Smeltz (Watson, 61), Barbarouses (booked, 43)

Points and ratings

Referee    Shaun Evans  1/10

Match  6/10
Pitch  7/10

Players points:
3.  Harold
2.  Castro
1.  Parkhouse