Perth fight back to Draw with Wellington

by Jeremy Ruane
with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 12 – 2016/2017 – Round 22
7:35pm, Saturday 4 March, 2017 –  QBE Stadium, Auckland NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 3 (Finkler 10′, Krishna 25′, Barbarouses 47′)
drew with
Perth Glory FC 3 (Keogh 34′, Taggart 67′, Castro 81′)

Perth Glory came from 3-1 down to draw 3-3 with Wellington Phoenix at QBE Stadium on 4 March, a result which neither side was hoping for in their respective pursuit of a play-off place in the Hyundai A-League.
The visitors started fast, Chris Harold raiding down the right in the third minute before looking to pick out Diego Castro. He executed the perfect air-shot, but lurking in behind him was Adam Taggart, whose rifled drive was directed straight at Glen Moss.
Wellington’s custodian sparked a swift counter-attack which culminated in Shane Smeltz’s delightful flick round the corner for Roy Krishna, who picked out the fast-arriving figure of Costa Barbarouses with a low cross. Just as he looked to produce a first-time finish, Joseph Mills dashed across and diverted the ball for a corner.
The home team was unable to capitalise on this, but when they next raided with intent, in the tenth minute, the crowd roared their approval at the outcome. Barbarouses led the charge this time, then fed Krishna, who played the ball on to Guilherme Finkler. From the edge of the penalty area, his fierce drive richocheted off a defender, and while Liam Reddy got his fingertips to the ball, he couldn’t keep it out – 1-0.
Rattled by the goal, Perth were being further stressed by Wellington’s fast-paced attack, in which Krishna and Barbarouses were in their element. Both were denied by timely Dino Djulbic tackles over the course of the next two minutes, as the home team looked to build on their early lead.
Barbarouses was giving Mills a right roasting down Perth’s left flank. Finkler released him to the by-line in the sixteenth minute, from where he cut inside a defender before seeing his shot blocked by another, while two minutes later, Mills was turned every which way by the flying flank player, so much so that Perth had to withdraw him from the fray minutes later.
By the time they did, Wellington had doubled their advantage. Matthew Ridenton pinged one forward for Smeltz to latch onto, and he held the ball up well before slipping it back to Krishna, who side-stepped a challenge before unleashing an unerring twenty yarder past Reddy, who barely moved as it ripped into the net behind him.
That stunned Perth into action, and the transformation was remarkable. Where it had been Wellington who were attacking at pace, now it was the visitors who were storming forward at full pelt, and in the 29th minute, only a timely Dylan Fox tackle denied Taggart in the act of shooting, after Castro had split the defence with a delicious through ball.
Five minutes later, they were back in the contest. Djulbic launched the ball up-field, and Adam Keogh controlled it superbly on his chest before unleashing a fine volley across Moss and into the net by the far post – 2-1.
That set the cat amongst the pigeons, and Perth piled on the pressure in search of a second goal. Keogh thrashed one narrowly over the bar on receipt of a delightfully weighted pass from Rostyn Griffiths, before the pair linked again in the 37th minute, Keogh this time sending a rasping twenty-five yarder narrowly over the bar.
Scything tackles were soon the order of the day, with Krishna the subject of a Djulbic special which reduced the Fijian’s effectiveness for the remainder of the contest. Alex Rodriguez took umbrage to this, and Rhys Williams – no stranger to the dark arts in this match – soon found himself on the receiving end.
Perth kept pressing for an equaliser before the break, with Castro prevented from bringing about parity on the stroke of half-time by a timely Parkhouse tackle. From the resulting corner, Djulbic’s header was kept out by Moss.
Some of the 6,285 fans – it looked more than that! – were still returning to their seats at the start of the second half when Wellington restored their two-goal advantage. Finkler caught Williams in possession, and Barbarouses was onto the ball in a flash.
He linked with Smeltz, who brought Krishna into play, before Wellington’s leading goalscorer switched the ball back to Barbarouses. From fifteen yards, he curled home a beauty which left Reddy rooted to the spot for the second time in the contest – 3-1.
Straight away, Perth piled on the pressure, Castro swooping on a stray Rodriguez pass to set up Taggart, who was denied by Fox in fine fashion five minutes into the second spell, five minutes after which the visitors contrived a delightful move involving Taggart, Keogh and Castro. Rhys Williams’ finish lacked the precision of the passes which preceded it, much to Moss’ relief.
On the hour, Moss was called upon again to keep the ball out, the sphere having taken a wicked deflection off Keogh following Josh Risdon’s right wing rampage. When Perth’s fullback next featured in play, it was to instigate the move which led to the visitors’ second goal, in the 67th minute.
Risdon played the ball forward to substitute Joel Chianese, who checked inside before clipping the ball across to Taggart, who met the ball with his head just as Ridenton rose to meet it. It promptly flew towards Moss, who could parry it straight back into the path of the Perth striker, who gleefully bundled home the rebound – 3-2.
Buoyed by the goal, the visitors kept on pressing – they had all the momentum by this stage. Chianese sent a low shot careering across the face of goal, before a teasing cross-shot from fellow substitute Marc Warren was tipped over the bar by Moss, who was relieved to see a Castro free-kick narrowly clear his crossbar from just outside the penalty area twelve minutes from time.
Two minutes later, Castro was presented with another chance to dip into his box of set-piece tricks when Perth were awarded another free-kick, again just outside the penalty area, but this time beyond its left-hand edge as Moss looked at it.
The change of angle worked superbly for Castro, for within everyone anticipating a cross to the far post, he wickedly curled a dipping effort towards the near post, with the trajectory of and curl on the ball ultimately seeing it land in the top far side of the net by the far upright – a quite splendid free-kick to level the scores ten minutes from time, thus preventing Wellington’s fans from activating their ‘shirts off’ ritual, which they were about to start.
That set up a grandstand finish, with Perth finishing with a wet sail against opponents who weren’t without their own chances in the final ten minutes. But Ridenton was Wellington’s hero in this period, flinging himself in the way of Castro drive in the 82nd minute before heading off the line to keep out Keogh’s header from the resulting corner.
Another scrambled Wellington clearance from a Castro corner followed, while the wily playmaker was narrowly astray with another free-kick three minutes from time. Castro then had a great chance to win the game at the death, but after latching onto a stray pass from Rodriguez and powering into the penalty area, his unselfishness in looking to set up Keogh proved to be his undoing, Andrew Durante intervening to ensure the final 3-3 scoreline.

Match details

Crowd:  6,285

Wellington Phoenix FC:       Moss (gk);  Ridenton, Durante (booked, 86), Fox, Parkhouse (booked, 41) (Doyle, 81); Lia, Finkler (Bonevacia, 65), Rodriguez; Barbarouses, Smeltz, Krishna

Perth Glory FC:  Reddy (gk); Risdon (booked, 21), Djulbic (booked, 39), A. Williams, Mills (Warren, 25); Harold (Chianese, 57), Griffiths, R. Williams (Garcia, 77), Castro; Taggart, Keogh

Points and ratings

Referee   Stephen Lucas    7/10
Match    7/10
Pitch     8/10

3.  Castro
2.  Ridenton
1.  Barbarouses