Late Brisbane winner ends Wellington’s busy week

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 12 – 2016/2017 – Round 16
7:35pm, 21 January, 2017 – Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 0
lost to
Brisbane Roar FC 1 (Jamie Maclaren 87′)

A late Jamie Maclaren goal secured Brisbane Roar a 1-0 win over Wellington Phoenix in the battle for fourth place in the Hyundai A-League on January 21, as the home team played their third match in eight days at Westpac Stadium, this time in front of 6,449 fans.

It was a game of two halves, this one, but not in the manner one generally associates with that phrase. Instead, the first half was very much full of open, enterprising play, whereas the second spell was very much a stalemate, with both teams cancelling each other out.

After a bright opening by both teams, Brisbane fired the first shots in anger, Jack Hingert rattling the post in the ninth minute after Dmitri Petratos and Arana had combined on the right.

Five minutes later, Tommy Oar set sail from half-way, finally unleashing a drive twenty yards from goal. Glen Moss tipped this round the post, and was relieved to see Vince Lia’s timely challenge prompt Arana to steer the ball wide from six yards after the resulting corner saw Petratos’ cross flicked on by Thomas Kristensen.

Wellington fired their first shot in anger in the eighteenth minute – Roy Krishna brought the best out of Theo – but it was the visitors who were looking the likelier side to score, and they came close to doing so twice in the next fifteen minutes.

Petratos and Oar teamed up with the overlapping Corey Brown in the 21st minute, but his low cross, targeting Arana, was intercepted at the vital moment by Lia, who had a strong game in the heart of Wellington’s midfield until a hamstring twinge prompted his withdrawal from the fray early in the second spell.

Brisbane next threatened through Petratos, whose twenty-five yarder fizzed a yard over the bar twelve minutes before half-time. When he lined up a thirty-five yard free-kick eight minutes later, Moss had to be at his best to turn the ball to safety.

Before that effort, Wellington contrived the move of the match in the 37th minute. Roly Bonevacia started it with a surging run in midfield, one he continued after laying the ball off to Krishna, who carried on at pace down the right before eventually delivering a cross.

Costa Barbarouses was his target, and the striker’s deft lay-off was brilliantly flicked over his own head from behind by Bonevacia, taking out two defenders in the process. Had the Dutchman connected with his attempted volley as the ball dropped just too far in front of him, this would have been a sure-fire contender for ‘goal of the season’, because Theo hadn’t a prayer of stopping it given his position.

Wellington went close to breaking the deadlock on the stroke of half-time, with Shane Smeltz leading the charge. He linked with Krishna, whose ball over the top invited Barbarouses to burst through the inside left channel, from where he battered his shot into the side-netting.

Krishna, too, gave the side-netting a thorough test four minutes into the second spell after racing down the left on a thirty yard run which took him into the penalty area as the second half began in like manner to the first spell.

But after both teams had enjoyed chances to break the deadlock in the 54th minute – Borrello’s progress was halted by Andrew Durante’s timely tackle, while Barbarouses, after nutmegging Luke DeVere on half-way and racing downfield, before over-hitting his cross as he sought to pick out Smeltz – the game went off the boil somewhat, and its free-flowing nature gave way to a chess-like contest.

Jacob Tratt went close with a couple of opportunities after the hour mark – only his first tested Theo – as substitute Guilherme Finkler and Bonevacia contrived openings, after which Moss saved a Petratos twenty-yarder, and Finkler fired a twenty yard free-kick narrowly over the bar, as the attritional nature of the second half gathered apace.

Brisbane had introduced striker Jamie Maclaren off the bench by this time, and he was to feature prominently in the final ten minutes of the contest, as three games in eight days took its toll on the tiring Wellingtonians.

Initially he linked with Petratos to present Borrello with a shooting chance ten minutes from time. Moss spilled his curling effort, then gathered the rebound as Maclaren, with Thomas Doyle in close attendance, came hurtling in looking to turn home the rebound.

Seconds later, Maclaren caused Wellington’s defence further problems, Durante’s clearance only reaching Petratos, whose twenty-five yard drive was parried by Moss into the stride of Hingert. The fullback sent the ball sailing over the bar.

Still Brisbane pressed, Maclaren racing away down the right to the by-line before seeing his cross strike the arm of the retreating figure of Marco Rossi. Penalty appeals were waved away by referee Jonathan Barreiro, who had a solid match in only his sixth game at this level.

There was to be no denying the visitors, however, and three minutes from time, they claimed the points. A misjudgement by Durante allowed Borrello, who had fired another effort over the bar in the previous attack, to burst into the inside right channel, and after luring Moss out of goal, he steered the ball into the stride of Maclaren, who doesn’t miss open goals.

Wellington looked to mount a late rally in search of an equaliser they didn’t deserve, and were nearly punished on the counter-attack late on, Moss having to race out of his penalty area to head clear as Maclaren looked to exploit a ball over the top from DeVere.

The win earned Brisbane their first win in Wellington in over three years, and more importantly, opened up a six-point gap between the teams – had the home team won by two or more goals, they would have leapfrogged the Queenslanders into fourth place on the table.

Match details

Crowd:  6,449

Wellington Phoenix FC: Moss (gk); Tratt (booked, 68), Durante, Rossi (booked, 81), Doyle; Lia (Finkler, 56), Bonevacia, Rodriguez; Barbarouses, Smeltz (McGlinchey, 56), Krishna (Watson, 88)

Coach:  Des Buckingham

Brisbane Roar FC:  Theo (gk); Hingert, DeVere, North, Brown (booked, 48) (Bowles, 71); Borrello, Kristensen, McKay, Oar; Petratos (Pepper, 90), Arana (Maclaren, 61)

Coach:  John Aloisi

Ratings and points

Match  5/10
Pitch  9/10

Referee   Jonathan Barreiro   7/10

Player points:
3.  McKay
2.  Moss
1.  Maclaren