Western Sydney wallop woeful Wellington

by Jeremy Ruane:

with the compliments of www.sportswebsoccer.com

Hyundai A-League – Season 13 – 2017/2018 – Round 7 (deferred)

7pm, Sunday 11 February, 2018 – Sydney Olympic Stadium, Homebush Bay

Western Sydney Wanderers FC 4

(Oriol Riera 6′, Michael Thwaite 63′, Christopher Ikonomidis 72′, Jaushua Sotirio 82′)

Wellington Phoenix FC 0


Western Sydney Wanderers walloped a woeful Wellington Phoenix side 4-0 at ANZ Stadium on 11 February, and the 7,127 fans present witnessing another display by the visiting team which has the likes of Australian footballing personality John Kosmina again questioning the need for their very existence in the competition.

It would not have flattered Wests if they had won this by as many goals again, so poor, so inept, so inexcusable were Wellington. A very strong argument could be presented that they are in a worse state now than when Football Federation Australia reluctantly handed the club a conditional extension to their A-League licence a couple of years ago.

In all honesty, if the FFA weren’t in such disarray themselves with regard to the make-up of their congress, they would likely have acted on these calls by now. But as they live in a glasshouse of their own making, they can’t go throwing stones. So Wellington live on, for the moment.

Their latest performance suggests they’re only surviving with the aid of life support, however. Not to put too fine a point on it, the New Zealand contenders – the team which, in the eyes of your average Kiwi sports follower, represents what football’s about on this side of the Tasman – were abysmal. A flock of sheep could have run rings round them!

Wests fired their first shot in anger just ten seconds after kicking off. And in the fifth minute, only Dylan Fox’s vital headed clearance prevented Marcelo Carrusca, Steven Lustica and Mark Bridge from combining to open the scoring.

It only delayed the inevitable, however. Fox’s clearance was latched onto by Chris Ikonomidis, who wriggled to the by-line and went down in the area before getting up again as Matthew Ridenton and Liberato Cacace stood over him.

The former managed to dispossess Ikonomidis and cleared the ball to Josh Risdon, who instantly floated a cross to the far post where the back-pedalling figure of Oriol Riera rose salmon-like to power a header over the flailing fingertips of Lewis Italiano and into the top far corner of the net.

That sixth minute goal encouraged Wests, and after Matija Ljujic had spurned the chance to equalise with a twenty yard free-kick, the home team looked to build on their early lead.

Again, Fox came to Wellington’s rescue, blocking an Ikonomidis shot after Raul Llorente and Lustica had combined on the left. The same player fired two more shots at goal soon afterwards, both of which gave Italiano scant cause for concern, while further attempts by Carrusca and Risdon to increase the scoring weren’t far away from doing so in the 25th and 26th minutes respectively.

Ten minutes before half-time, only Andrew Durante’s superbly timed tackle prevented Ikonomidis from getting through on goal with just Italiano to beat, while three minutes before the interval, early substitute Scott Galloway’s timely headed clearance prevented Riera from making the most of an Ikonomidis cross.

Italiano then blocked a Llorente shot to safety, prompting that rarest of beasts – in this match especially! – a Wellington counter-attack. They earned a corner, which Ljujic delivered to the far post.

Andrija Kaludjerovic, despite being unmarked, somehow contrived to direct his shot past the target, while he headed past the upright three minutes into the second half after a wayward Vedran Janjetovic clearance had invited Nathan Burns to pick out the head of his striking partner.

That was akin to awakening a bear from hibernation, for Wests promptly laid siege to Wellington’s goal, with former Wellington man Roly Bonevacia instrumental in exposing the shortcomings of his old employers.

Fox’s intervention thwarted Risdon in the fiftieth minute, while seconds later, Bridge was inches away from heading home Carrusca’s chipped cross. The ball was cleared to Ikonomidis, who did first-time starter Cacace a treat before setting up Bridge for another go, only for Durante to intervene in timely fashion.

But for their central defensive pairing, Wellington would have long been out of the contest. Amazingly, they were still within a goal of drawing level, but Wests went within inches of doubling their advantage in the 54th minute as Bridge released Ikonomidis, who deftly chipped the ball over the advancing figure of Italiano, only for Fox to produce a brilliant goal-line clearance.

Two minutes later, Llorente and Bridge combined once more, with the latter’s cross striking Ikonomidis and ricocheting to safety. Wests’ incessant pressure had to tell, however, and in the 63rd minute, the dam was broached.

Michael Thwaite’s header from a Carrusca corner soared into the far corner of the net from ten yards out to double Wests’ advantage, and eighteen minutes from time a delightful move was capped off by a delicious one-two twixt Ikonomidis and Bridge which allowed the former to pick his spot beyond Italiano – 3-0.

Cue the introduction of substitutes Jaushua Sotirio and Brendon Santalab, the latter no stranger to scoring against Wellington. They combined in the eightieth minute, only for the former to shoot straight at Italiano, a feat he repeated two minutes later.

This time, Italiano let the ball squirm through his hands and into the net beyond, having pulled off a fine save to prevent Santalab from converting Iconomidis’ work on the left. Sotirio pounced on the rebound, an effort which Wellington’s goalkeeper should have also kept out.

There was still time for Galloway to fire a rare Wellington shot – Janjetovic smothered it well, and Fox to foil another Western Sydney raid when tackling Riera in the area. But the bottom-placed visitors were a very well beaten side, and such was the victors’ dominance that the 4-0 scoreline doesn’t really do their superiority justice.

Match details

Crowd: 7,127

Western Sydney Wanderers FC: Janjetovic (gk); Risdon, Thwaite, Hamill, Llorente; Lustica (Baccus, 70), Bonevacia, Carrusca (Santalab, 79); Ikonomidis, Riera, Bridge (Sotirio, 76)

Wellington Phoenix FC: Italiano (gk); Mullen (Galloway, 28), Durante, Fox (booked, 37), Cacace (Patterson, 75); Ridenton, Ljujic, Paracki; Burns, Kaludjerovic, McGlinchey (Parkhouse, 58)

Points and ratings

Match 6/10
Pitch 7/10

Referee Adam Fielding 5/10

Players points:
3. Ikonomidis
2. Bridge
1. Fox