Former employers regret return of “The Mac”

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 12 – 2016/2017 – Round 15
7:35pm, Saturday 14 January, 2017 – Westpac Stadium, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Michael McGlinchey 9′)
Central Coast Mariners FC 0


Former Central Coast Mariners midfielder Michael McGlinchey returned from the treatment table to haunt his old club at a wet and windy Westpac Stadium on January 14, as he inspired Wellington Phoenix to a 1-0 win over the team propping up the standings in the Hyundai A-League.

After early pressure from the visitors, it was the fit-again Wellington midfielder – he has been out since Guy Fawke’s Day – who lit up the 6,061-strong crowd by opening the scoring in the ninth minute.

Roly Bonevacia – easily his best performance for some time – and Alex Rodriguez worked a one-two which allowed the Dutchman to play in McGlinchey on the left flank, from where he wrong-footed Storm Roux before beating Paul Izzo all ends up at his near post with an angled drive from just inside the penalty area.

Stunned by this setback, Central Coast quickly set about restoring parity, with Fabio Ferreira’s driving run taking him past two opponents before his shot ricocheted off Marco Rossi through to Glen Moss, who grabbed the ball greedily.

A tidy spell from Wellington followed, but it was the visitors who threatened again, in the eighteenth minute. This time, Connor Pain was on the rampage, and he evaded three challenges before the combination of Jacob Tratt and Andrew Durante made life easy for Moss.

That was it as far as first half threats from Central Coast went, such was Wellington’s dominance. The home team were producing some slick one-touch play at times, with McGlinchey and Bonevacia particularly prominent.

The visitors were forced to scramble the ball to safety on numerous occasions as Wellington largely concentrated on left-flank attacks with the end product being low crosses intended for Shane Smeltz’s benefit. Central Coast’s defence was wise to this, but they were often scrambling the ball to safety in dramatic fashion.

A frequent by-product of these scrambled clearances were corners from McGlinchey, and three of them before half-time could have left Tratt claiming the match ball. He went desperately close on three separate occasions to heading Wellington further in front, something which the home team should have done via open play twice in the shadows of the half-time whistle.

Bonevacia and Smeltz linked up with Costa Barbarouses, who, on this season’s form, isn’t the player he once was. This brief cameo said everything about his campaign to date – a burst of pace past defenders, then an untimely stumble at the vital moment, just as he was preparing to pull the trigger on the edge of the area.

Seconds later, Thomas Doyle – a solid game – linked with McGlinchey on the left again, the latter breaking into space in behind the defence before delivering a buffet ball into the stride of Bonevacia. The Dutchman was beside himself with annoyance after slicing his shot wide of the target.

The second half was just five minutes old when Tratt came desperately close to heading Wellington further in front from another McGlinchey corner – there could only have been a foot of air twixt ball and bar!

Three minutes later, Bonevacia won the ball in midfield and fed Smeltz on the left before surging forward in support of Wellington’s new signing, who held the ball up well before rewarding Bonevacia’s run. The resulting twenty yard shot on the turn stung the gloves of Izzo.

More Wellington pressure followed, with McGlinchey leading the charge, Doyle overlapping him on the left. The midfielder used the fullback as a decoy, instead picking out Bonevacia, who played in Barbarouses on the right. His drive was parried by Izzo, with Liam Rose first to the rebound to tidy things up for the visitors.

Despite 40 knot winds and driving rain buffeting proceedings, Central Coast began to get a foothold in the contest, initially via a Roy O’Donovan header – from a Roux cross – which gave Moss scant concern.

When Nick Montgomery teamed up with the fullback to present O’Donovan with another heading opportunity on the hour, Moss was even less concerned – he didn’t have to handle this effort.

But Montgomery was becoming increasingly influential, and his team-mates followed his lead. Eighteen minutes from time, Pain scampered down the left before whipping in a low cross which O’Donovan would surely have turned home had Rossi not produced a timely intervention.

Six minutes later, Doyle failed to see the ball out of play, Roux’s reward for his persistence being the chance to team up with substitute Trent Buhagiar, who set up Ferreira for a shot on goal, about which the less said, the better! It was awful!!

It also served to rouse Wellington from their attacking slumbers. Nine minutes from time, Tratt played an early ball over the top which played in substitute Hamish Watson. But the lumbering journeyman was rounded up and tackled by Harry Ascroft before he could pull the trigger.

Ascroft’s clearance directed the ball into the stride of another Wellington substitute, Adam Parkhouse, who promptly fired two shots at goal, both of which were parried by Izzo, with the second effort ultimately being scrambled to safety by the visitors.

Guilherme Finkler had also joined the fray by this time, and his resulting corner wasn’t cleared, the ball falling into the stride of Barbarouses, who thundered a shot into the side-netting from an acute angle.

Seconds later, Barbarouses was bearing down on goal again, but his low cross was cut out by Izzo, who was called into action again as the final whistle approach to once more frustrate Barbarouses, as he looked to exploit Finkler’s clever lob over the defence.

Just prior to this, O’Donovan fired a shot on the turn past the post following the industry of Pain and Rose, while the final act of note in the match saw Parkhouse latch onto a Watson pass and direct his attempted chip of the advancing Izzo wide of the mark.

In a game well refereed by Jarred Gillett, Wellington had done enough to record their first win of 2017, however, a result which lifts them into seventh place at the start of a week in which they play three home games in eight days, with Melbourne Victory next up in three days’ time.

Match details

Crowd:  6,061

Wellington Phoenix FC:  Moss (gk); Tratt, Durante, Rossi, Doyle (booked, 66); Barbarouses, Lia, Rodriguez, McGlinchey (Watson, 65); Bonevacia (Finkler, 70), Smeltz (Parkhouse, 80)

Coach:  Des Buckingham

Central Coast Mariners FC:  Izzo (gk); Roux, Rose, McGing, Galloway; Appiah-Kubi (booked, 3) (Buhagiar, 73), Montgomery (Powell, 84), Berry (Ascroft, 73); Ferreira, O’Donovan, Pain

Coach:   Paul Okon

Points and ratings

Match  6/10
Pitch  9/10

Referee  Jarred Gillett   8/10  ( amazing what happens when the players are keen to just get on and play)

Player points:
3.  McGlinchey
2.  Bonevacia
1.  Montgomery