Adelaide come from behind to down Wellington

by Jeremy Ruane:

with the compliments of

Hyundai A-League – Season 14 – 2018/2019 – Round 5
7:35pm, Saturday 24 November, 2018 – Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 1 (Mandi 14′)
Adelaide United FC 3 (Tom Doyle 45′, Ken Ilsö 47′, Ken Ilsö 64′)


Adelaide United scored a come-from-behind Hyundai A-League victory over an uninspiring Wellington Phoenix combination at Westpac Stadium on November 24, leaving many of the 4,831 fans present wondering if they’ll ever see the home team play some attractive attacking football this season.

This was sleep-inducing stuff – if you’re an insomniac, watching Wellington play is a guaranteed cure-all! It took fourteen minutes for both teams to produce something worthy of note on the occasion of Wellington’s 300th A-League game, and that it resulted in a goal for the home team was the biggest shock of the night!

Alex Rufer’s corner was delivered beyond the far post to Tom Doyle, whose header back across goal was unconvincingly punched out by Paul Izzo. It landed perfectly at the feet of Mandi Sosa, whose miscued volley bounced into the ground then over all-comers to open the scoring.

That and a Sosa free-kick on the half-hour, which Izzo parried before Michael Marrone cleared the rebound, were all the home team could muster in an opening forty-five minutes which sorely lacked in entertainment value.

Adelaide weren’t much better, to be fair, but at least they mounted concerted attacking pressure, which produced chances for Vince Lia – who fired narrowly over the bar against his old club in the 21st minute – and, five minutes later, Isaias, whose top-corner-bound free-kick was superbly saved by Filip Kurto.

Right on the stroke of half-time, the visitors equalised via an unlikely source. Ben Halloran’s run and cross from the left was headed into his own net by Doyle, much to the chagrin of the local faithful, who were stunned into silence within two minutes of the resumption of play.

While many were still getting their heads around the reason for Wellington’s goalkeeping coach, Paul Gothard, having been booked by referee Kurt Ams prior to the second half’s commencement – and doubtless many still are, for there was nothing obviously untoward that he had done during the first half – Adelaide took the lead via a lovely move.

Scott Galloway – another once of this parish – combined with his left flank partner in crime Craig Goodwin, who slipped the ball inside to Isaias. He
swiftly steered it into the stride of overlapping right-back Marrone, who curled a delicious cross into the goalmouth which Ken Ilso met with a full-length diving header to direct the ball into the far corner of the net.

Wellington sought a swift riposte via David Williams, the lone local to deliver the goods from an attacking perspective in this match. His cross picked out Nathan Burns, who headed over from six yards.

Williams himself went close on the hour, after Burns and the recalled Ryan Lowry combined on the right, to which Adelaide responded with a rip-roaring counter-attack which saw Marrone released through the inside-left channel by Goodwin. He galloped onwards before checking inside and curling a shot just past the far post.

The game was up for Wellington in the 65th minute. Halloran led this counter-attack, and was joined by the overlapping figure of Ryan Kitto on his left. His low cross found Ilso and Doyle arriving simultaneously on the far post, with the ball entering the net via one of them – Ilso was eventually credited with it, although it could very easily have been the retreating fullback’s second own goal of the game.

Kitto returned the compliment to Goodwin soon afterwards, but Kurto tipped his effort over the bar, after which the home team strove to get back into the contest, but lacked the imagination and creative guile to trouble an Adelaide side which climbed into the top four thanks to this win.

Burns led the charge on most of their openings, but Izzo smothered his first attempt while Taylor Regan blocked his 73rd minute volley, following Rufer’s corner. But when Mitch Nichols skied one soon afterwards, following a one-two twixt Williams and Burns, that was that from Wellington’s perspective, and the game drifted to what was very much an anti-climactic conclusion.

Match details

Crowd: 4,831

Wellington Phoenix FC: Kurto; Taylor, Kopzcynski (Burgess, 66), Durante; Lowry, Rufer (booked, 62), Sosa, Doyle; Williams, Krishna (Nichols, 72), Burns

Adelaide United FC: Izzo; Marrone, Regan, Elsey, Galloway; Isaias (booked, 84), Ilso (Stamatelopoulos, 72), Lia; Kitto (Mileusnic, 76), Halloran (Konstandopoulos, 90), Goodwin

Points and ratings
Referee: Kurt Ams   4/10

Match – 4/10
Pitch – 9/10
Player points – all Adelaide 
3 – Marrone
2 – Reagan
1 – Lia