Wellington bottle 3-goal lead in Brisbane draw

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

Hyundai A-League – Season 13 – 2017/2018 – Round 4
5:35pm, Saturday 28 October, 2017 – Westpac Stadium, Wellington, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 3 (Andrija Kaluderovic 1′, 20′, Roy Krishna 18′)
drew with
Brisbane Roar FC 3 (Massimo Maccarone 45′, 82′, Avraam Papadopoulos 66′)


Wellington Phoenix bottled a three-goal lead in drawing 3-3 with Brisbane Roar in front of 7,018 fans at Westpac Stadium on October 28, as two teams who’ve yet to record a win in this season’s Hyundai A-League maintained their form in bemusing fashion.

The home team started like a house on fire, opening the scoring exactly sixty seconds into the contest. Ali Abbas evaded a challenge before pinging the ball forward for Roy Krishna – complete with his newly coloured coiffure – to chase down and scoot past an opponent.

The Fijian then checked his run and laid the ball back to Dario Vidosic, whose driven angled cross towards the far post found Andrija Kaludjerovic leaping salmon-like over his marker to guide a looping header back across goal, over the diving figure of Michael Theo and into the far corner of the net, to the undisguised delight of the local faithful.

After Thomas Doyle had directed a header past the far post on receipt of a Michael McGlinchey cross, Wellington doubled their lead in the seventeenth minute. From broken play, Krishna latched onto the ball and unleashed a thirty yard screamer which fair stormed into the top near corner of Theo’s net – there was no stopping that one!

2-0 swiftly became 3-0, as Doyle intercepted a twentieth minute pass and presented McGlinchey with the ball. He instantly brought Krishna into play, and the striker duly delivered an inch-perfect low cross to the far post, where Kaludjerovic, who had timed his run to perfection to beat the offside trap, gleefully tucked home to send the natives into dreamland.

Wellington 3-0 up after twenty minutes? What’s going on? Brisbane were asking themselves that very question, and looked to begin to answer it in the 26th minute when Fahid Ben Khalfallah let rip from twenty-five yards through a throng of players.

The shot went through the legs of Wellington goalkeeper Keegan Smith, who recovered to save the ball before it crossed the line behind him. This encouraged the visitors, who were further encouraged by a stream of set-piece deliveries which caused the home team some concern.

A foul on Smith by Matt McKay forced referee Jarred Gillett to rule out Brett Harmon’s headed effort four minutes before half-time, soon after Wellington had been denied a fourth goal by the Video Assistant Referee, who correctly ruled that McGlinchey had come back from an offside position before tucking the ball home in the 39th minute.

The VAR’s intrusions into this match were frequent, far too lengthy and all too often unnecessary, much like referee Gillett’s near-constant whistling, which increasingly impacted upon the match and rendered useless any attempts at cohesive, flowing football.

In fairness to the official, both teams contributed to the malaise, their error-strewn efforts seeing possession swiftly changing hands – a Wellington throw-in straight to a Brisbane player early in the second spell was the absolute nadir in this regard.

Before then, however, the scoreline had altered. After McGlinchey had volleyed over from fifteen yards after an Abbas cross had been only partially cleared, the visitors pulled a goal back on the stroke of half-time.

Jack Hingert’s run down the right was followed by an inch-perfect gem of a cross which Holman headed down towards goal. Smith blocked the effort with his legs, but Massimo Maccarone was following in and slammed home the rebound to give Brisbane a sniff.

They nearly had a second before half-time, with Khalfallah’s curling cross from the right picking out fellow flank player Eric Bautheac, who got in behind Daniel Mullen but was unable to direct his effort on target.

Amid the errors which dominated the early stages of the second spell in particular, Wellington spurned a good chance to restore their three-goal advantage in the 51st minute, Vidosic dragging his shot wide of the target after Kaludjerovic and McGlinchey combined on the right.

On the hour, referee Gillett was guilty of a glaring blunder, failing to award the home team a clear-cut free-kick on the edge of the penalty area after Krishna had been felled by Dane Ingham’s tackle from behind.

There was plenty more such nonsense of this nature inside the last half-hour as the official gradually lost control of the game. In fairness, he called the majority of it, but didn’t adequately punish the miscreants – that was the referee’s greatest failure.

Had he been more authoritative, the players would have got the message, but instead, Mr Gillett was a soft touch, and fully deserved to find himself on the receiving end of a hearty chorus of “You don’t know what you’re doing!” from Wellington’s fans. They were right!

They were also getting increasingly nervous, as in the 66th minute, Brisbane scored a second goal. Khalfallah drilled in a free-kick to the near post which Smith misjudged. The young goalkeeper managed to turn the ball onto the upright, but it rebounded straight to Avram Papadopoulos, who gleefully tucked the ball home.

3-2 then, and very nearly 3-3 five minutes later, as Smith, at full stretch, tipped a thirty-five yard free-kick from Khalfallah round the post. Back came Wellington two minutes later, Kaludjerovic coming within inches of completing his hat-trick as he rose between two defenders, only to guide his header from McGlinchey’s pinpoint cross narrowly past the far post, with Krishna looking on in despair.

Come the eighty minute mark, and the season’s first instance of indecent exposure, Wellington Phoenix style, was in evidence – that pathetic ‘shirts off’ practice which the hardcore local fans indulge in whenever Wellington is in front at that stage of the game.

Television viewers were spared this sight thanks to events on the pitch, for just as the Wellington fans were shedding their shirts, Brisbane were earning themselves a penalty, Papadopoulos going down under the challenge of Matthew Ridenton.

Referee Gillett hesitated not in pointing to the spot, from where Maccarone slammed home the equaliser, and prompted a bit of silly stuff afterwards, during which both Smith and Khalfallah earned themselves bookings.

The red mist had begun to mar players’ vision by now, with Abbas fortunate to stay on the park for elbowing Khalfallah in the face in the 86th minute. The fullback had already been booked, but referee Gillett was as lenient to him as he had been towards Bautheac, who could easily have received multiple bookings in this match – ditto Doyle.

A grandstand finish loomed large – could Brisbane possibly fashion the unlikeliest of victories in stoppage time? They came desperately close to doing so, with Khalfallah leading a counter-attack before playing a one-two with substitute Petros Skapetis.

The return pass invited Khalfallah to let fly from the edge of the penalty area, his shot striking Wellington defender Dylan Fox and crashing into the post, off which it rebounded into the incoming figure of Bautheac. Much to Wellington’s relief, the ball ricocheted off the winger out of play – a couple of yards the other way …

3-3 it finished, a result which served neither side well, although it did earn Brisbane their first point of the season. But Wellington will be kicking themselves for throwing away a three-goal lead after twenty minutes, thus denying themselves their first win of the campaign. The game was theirs for the taking, but a point is all they had come the final whistle – they should have had two more.

Match details

Crowd: 7,018

Wellington Phoenix FC: Smith (booked, 84); Galloway (Fox, 25), Mullen, Doyle, Abbas (booked, 71); Paracki (booked, 23), Vidosic (Finkler, 69), Ridenton; Krishna, Kaludjerovic, McGlinchey (Parkhouse, 88)

Coach: Darije Kalezić

Brisbane Roar FC: Theo; Hingert (booked, 33), Papadopoulos, Devere (Ingham, 39), North; Oxborrow (booked, 87) (Caletti, 88), Holman (Skapetis, 84), McKay; Bautheac (booked, 53), Maccarone, Khalfallah (booked, 84)
Coach: John Aloisi

Points and ratings

Referee: Jarred Gillette 2/10

Match 5/10
Pitch 8/10

Player points
3. Khalfallah
2. Krishna
1. Kaludjerovic