Four-goal Wellington go fourth after Newcastle win

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of
Hyundai A-League – Season 10 – Round 3
3pm, Sunday 26 October, 2014 – Westpac Stadium, Wellington NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 4
Newcastle Jets 1

Wellington Phoenix scored a thumping 4-1 victory over Newcastle Jets at a wet and windy Westpac Stadium on 26 October to climb into fourth place on the Hyundai A-League standings.

It was a convincing performance from the home team, who could have been trailing inside the first minute of play, had the post not denied Joel Griffiths’ diving header as he got goal-side of Tom Doyle to meet Andrew Hoole’s angled cross from the left.

Wellington’s response was perfection personified, as far as the 7,802 fans who braved the elements were concerned. Manny Muscat’s deep cross picked out Michael McGlinchey, whose progress was foiled by a defender.

Jeremy Brockie was in close attendance, however, and found the angle from which to deliver the ball back across goal for Nathan Burns to swoop from close range in the fourth minute of play to mark his fiftieth A-League appearance with the opening goal.

Within seconds, Sam Gallagher nearly turned the ball into his own net, another Brockie cross causing chaos in Newcastle’s penalty area following Burns’ driving run downfield straight from the kick-off.

Following a clash of heads between Newcastle’s Jacob Pepper and Wellington’s Roly Bonevacia, who had a great game despite returning to the fray with his head swathed in a bandage, the home team could have doubled their advantage in the thirteenth minute.

McGlinchey’s measured pass allowed Alex Rodriguez to get in on the left and weight a cross to the far post, which Brockie steered past the upright. Newcastle’s response was instant, Hoole getting the better of Muscat en route into the penalty area, only to rifle his drive into the side-netting.

Back came Wellington, Albert Riera driving them on throughout proceedings, and on this occasion, leading by example. He evaded two challenges in midfield before releasing Burns with a delicious pass with the outside of his boot, the ball swerving perfectly into the stride of the front-runner as he bore down on goal.

On this occasion, Burns’ touch let him down, allowing Mark Birighitti to save at his feet. But when a similar opportunity presented itself three minutes before half-time, after a period of plenty of nip and tuck without either goal being truly threatened …

Bonevacia and McGlinchey combined to prise open Newcastle’s defence in the 42nd minute and send Burns buccaneering through the inside-right channel at pace. Once again, Birighitti raced out in an effort to save the day, and he partially impeded Burns’ progress. But the rebound favoured the striker, who recovered to scramble home number two.

That’s how the score stayed till half-time, but it could so easily have been 2-1. A driving run down the left by Hoole culminated in a cross which picked out Edson Montano. Just as he was pulling the trigger near the penalty spot, Doyle dived in with a despairing lunge which diverted the shot to safety, the last action of the half.

Newcastle were buoyed by having come so close to reducing the deficit, and began the second spell very much on the front foot. Indeed, they dominated the first eighteen minutes of the half, but in the nineteenth, were stung on the counter-attack as Wellington took a stranglehold of the game on the scoreboard.

Bonevacia seized possession in a tackle and instantly fed Vince Lia, the substitute promptly sending Burns hurtling through on the right once more. He drew the defence before setting up McGlinchey for a tap-in – 3-0.

There was surely no way back for Newcastle from this point, but Lia attempted to provide them with one in the 69th minute. An awful low-percentage pass gifted possession to substitute Jeronimo Neumann, who bore down on goal only to be thwarted by a quite superbly timed tackle from Andrew Durante – Wellington’s captain was most definitely not going to have his old club spoil his day.

After Neumann had sent a twenty-five yarder flying past the uprights, a despairing tackle by Gallagher in the 89th minute denied Burns as he took on Birighitti in a one-on-one situation once more.

This prompted a Newcastle counter-attack, from which they scored a consolation goal, with Griffiths heading home a cross from substitute James Virgili inside the six-yard box.

Wellington were incensed at having conceded so late on, and in the time remaining managed to restore their three-goal cushion. Rodriguez curled a delightful free-kick towards the far post, luring Birighitti out of goal.

He was in no man’s land when Durante rose to meet the sphere and guide it into the untended net to wrap up a thoroughly convincing 4-1 win for Wellington, one of the best performances by the club under Ernie Merrick’s stewardship.

Match details
Crowd:  7,802
Wellington Phoenix FC:      Moss (gk); Muscat, Sigmund, Durante, Doyle (Fenton, 70); Bonevacia, Riera, Rodriguez; Burns, Brockie (Lia, 62), McGlinchey (Cunningham, 78)
Newcastle United Jets FC:    Birighitti (gk); Neville, Jaliens, Gallagher, Carney; Pepper (booked, 21), Flores, Caravella (Virgili, 76); Griffiths, Montano (Neumann, 54), Hoole (Gallaway, 57)
Referee:    Chris Beath   7/10
Match:  7/10
Pitch:  8/10
Player points:
3. Nathan Burns (WP)
2. Bonavecia (WP)
1.  Riera (WP)
By Jeremy Ruane