How did this game end scoreless?

by Jeremy Ruane:
with the compliments of
Hyundai A-League – Season 10 – 2014/2015 – Round 25
5pm, Sunday 12 April, 2015 – Melbourne Football Stadium

Melbourne City FC 0
drew with
Wellington Phoenix FC 0


Wellington Phoenix spurned the chance to regain the outright lead in the Hyundai A-League on April 12, as Melbourne City and the title contenders produced a rip-roaring 0-0 draw in front of 6,720 fans at AAMI Park.

Quite how this game failed to produce a single goal defies logic! There were chances galore throughout proceedings, the first of them materialising just two minutes into the contest, when Alex Rodriguez was caught in possession in the centre circle by Jonatan Germano, who chanced his arm with a forty yard chip.

The back-pedalling figure of Glen Moss was wise to this effort, and those which followed over the course of the next three minutes. Wellington’s ‘keeper produced a fine save to tip Robert Koren’s twenty-five yarder over the bar in the third minute, and followed that up by smothering Safuwan Baharudin’s twelve yard header sixty seconds later.

City tried another approach to goal in the fifth minute, Koren raiding down the right before endeavouring to pick out Josh Kennedy at the near post. Michael Boxall stuck to the striker like glue, however, and Wellington survived once again.

After Aaron Mooy’s teasing cross-shot had crept inches past Moss’ left-hand upright, the visitors finally got the chance to show their attacking potential in the thirteenth minute when Albert Riera threaded a ball through for Roy Krishna to pursue.

Tando Velaphi raced out of his penalty area to avert the danger, but two minutes later should have been beaten from twelve yards, after Louis Fenton was felled in the area having received a Roly Bonevacia pass.

Referee Peter Green didn’t hesitate in pointing to the spot, but if you’d put the house on Nathan Burns scoring the resulting penalty, right now you’d be homeless! The striker’s execution was awful, so bad that it was akin to a pass-back to the ‘keeper, one Velaphi accepted greedily.

Unperturbed by the miss, Wellington continued to press, Bonevacia sending one fizzing over the bar after a concerted spell of 23rd minute pressure, before Burns let fly from twenty-five yards three minutes later, the ball flashing inches past the far post to the relief of Velaphi, who was beaten all ends up had it been on target.

On the half-hour, Krishna, for neither the first nor last time in the contest, spoilt another Burns-inspired raid with a poor first touch, this time compounded by the presence of an unmarked Michael McGlinchey inside him itching to pull the trigger.

The Fijian made amends a minute later, however, as Wellington produced a sumptuous move down the left, with Riera, Rodriguez and Manny Muscat all involved before Krishna picked out McGlinchey with a pass which invited a first-time shot. The striker duly fired on cue, but straight at Velaphi.

Another Wellington raid three minutes later saw Fenton flying down the right flank, from where he picked out Krishna unmarked in the penalty area, ten yards out from goal. In such a situation, there can be no excuses for not hitting the target, but the inconsistent striker didn’t even do that, firing wide when scoring appeared easier.

Krishna was denied a goal on the stroke of half-time by the offside flag – Burns had strayed past the point of no return in the build-up to the final attack of a half which City began strongly, but Wellington controlled from the twenty minute mark.

Melbourne had come back into it late on, however, although Mooy’s radar was well and truly off with his long-range attempts. Harry Novillo showed his team-mate how to do it two minutes into the second half, his thirty yard free-kick flying inches over Moss’ crossbar.

Krishna then ruined two openings for Wellington, delivering a poor cross in the 48th minute after Burns and McGlinchey had combined to play him in on the left, while four minutes later, the Fijian was guilty of a poor return pass to Bonevacia, who had engineered the opening by stripping Kew Jaliens of possession.

Back came Melbourne, Mooy picking out Erik Paartalu with a cross which the midfielder headed goalwards. Moss smothered his ten yard effort, then sparked a counter-attack which saw a shot from Bonevacia blocked, and a fifteen yarder from Burns tipped to safety by Velaphi.

Cue a counter-attack from the home team – it was helter-skelter stuff at times in this match – with Connor Chapman and Koren combining to reward Kennedy’s darting run in behind the defence. His shot on the turn was pawed away at his near post by Moss, who was next called into action in the 69th minute.

At that point, Koren pounced on a loose ball, and raced for the return after playing the ball wide to Germano. Upon receipt of the return pass, the striker let rip from inside the penalty area, only for Moss to turn the shot to safety.

Wellington’s ‘keeper was right behind another Baharudin header moments later, the fullback having been picked out by Paulo Retre’s cross. Moss instantly launched a counter-attack via Krishna, the outcome of which saw Rodriguez sting Velaphi’s gloves from twenty-five yards.

Moss pulled off a brilliant save ten minutes from time to turn away a shot on the run from Germano, who had been released by a gorgeous first-time volleyed pass by Mooy – a moment of outstanding quality in an at times breathless encounter.

Fine defending from Retre prevented Kenny Cunningham from heading home Fenton’s 88th minute cross, to which City responded via a David Williams shot. Moss was right behind this, but he was finally beaten in stoppage time, as Mooy’s last-gasp corner picked out Paartalu’s head.

The ball grazed the top of the crossbar, however, ensuring this chance-laden contest would conclude without a goal having been scored. Quite how that was the case Lord alone knows, although Moss certainly played a significant part – he was outstanding!

Match details
Crowd: 6,720

Melbourne City FC:    Velaphi (gk); Jaliens (booked, 43) (Retre, 62), Chapman, Kisnorbo, Baharudin (booked, 15); Germano, Paartalu, Mooy; Koren, Kennedy (Melling, 73 (booked, 87)), Novillo (Williams, 58)
Coach:  John van’t Ship

Wellington Phoenix FC:     Moss (gk); Fenton, Boxall, Durante, Muscat; Bonevacia (Appiah, 90), Riera, Rodriguez (Lia, 78); Burns, McGlinchey, Krishna (Cunningham, 73)
Coach: Ernie Merrick

Ratings and points

Match  8/10
Referee : Peter Green 6/10
Pitch  7/10
3.  Moss
2.  Germano
1.  Riera