Wellington hand Melbourne Victory a Mid-Season hiding

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

Hyundai A-League – Season 12 – 2016/2017 – Round 7 (deferred to to Earthquake)
7:45pm, Tuesday 17 January, 2017 – Westpac Stadium, NZ

Wellington Phoenix FC 3 (Bonevacia 33′, Tratt 90′, Barbarouses 90’+3)
Melbourne Victory FC 0

Wellington Phoenix produced their best Hyundai A-League performance of the season at Westpac Stadium on January 17, crushing second-placed Melbourne Victory 3-0 in their rescheduled fixture to climb into fifth place on the table, much to the delight of the 5,865 fans present.

The home team tore into the visitors from referee Kris Griffiths-Jones’ first whistle, with Roy Krishna latching onto the lofted ball forward from the kick-off and instigating an opening which culminated in Costa Barbarouses and Roly Bonevacia working a one-two on the edge of the penalty area before the former Melbourne striker was thwarted by Lawrence Thomas’ save.

Inside the opening five minutes, Wellington had made their attacking intentions clear, via two corners and a free-kick near the edge of the area. Melbourne had mustered just a solitary attacking free-kick in this time, and in truth, didn’t offer a great deal throughout this contest – they were generally second-best to everything throughout proceedings.

Wellington, of course, were fizzing, and when Jacob Tratt released Krishna with an early ball over the top in the eleventh minute, the Fijian pinned his ears back and set sail for goal, only to be thwarted in the end by a posse of retreating Melbourne defenders.

The visitors finally offered an attacking threat of consequence in the seventeenth minute. Besart Berisha cut in off the right, and linked with Oliver Bozanic and Fahid Ben Khalfallah, who unleashed a shot from the edge of the box which only narrowly missed the target.

Back came the hosts, with Alex Rodriguez, Shane Smeltz and Krishna combining to present Barbarouses with another shooting chance, only for Alan Baro to close down the striker in the act of shooting.

Two minutes later, an attempt to clear a Bonevacia cross was sliced wildly by Nick Ansell, giving Thomas more than a little cause for concern as the ball careered across the face of goal.

Wellington continued to press, and after Krishna and Barbarouses had combined on the right to present Bonevacia with another chance to cross – this one careered across the face of goal, the home team finally got the goal their attacking endeavour fully merited in the 32nd minute.

Vince Lia picked out Krishna on the left, from where he delivered a delicious low curling cross into the goalmouth. Bonevacia was lurking with intent, and gleefully prodded home his first goal of the season to deny Baro the burden of putting through his own net.

The visitors looked to get a foothold in the game before the interval, and three minutes before half-time gave Glen Moss reason to justify his presence on the park – he’d had nothing to do up to this point in time.

Ben Khalfallah made in-roads into the penalty area off the left flank, with Carl Valeri the beneficiary of his industry. But scrambling Wellington defence took the sting off the shot fired by Melbourne’s captain, affording Moss an easier save than that he had to produce on the stroke of half-time, a punched clearance off the head of Marco Rojas following a James Troisi corner.

Just prior to this, Thomas had been forced to produce a smothering save to prevent Bonevacia from doubling his tally via a shot on the turn from the edge of the penalty area, the opportunity arising from a Smeltz-inspired raid.

The visitors simply had to produce a strong response early in the second half if they were to maintain their recent winning streak, but the best they could muster in the first ten minutes of the half was a lame penalty claim by Troisi, who went down rather easily between Marco Rossi and Andrew Durante after wriggling his way to the edge of the penalty area.

Referee Griffiths-Jones was right there to wave away his claims, and generally gave the visiting side short shrift where their complaints were concerned throughout proceedings, despite Berisha’s best efforts to provide a running commentary on how to referee a match based on his interpretations of events.

Wellington came within inches of doubling their lead ten minutes into the half. Bonevacia played a quick free-kick to Krishna, who took the ball on a few strides before letting rip from twenty yards.

Two minutes later, Bonevacia unleashed a dipping twenty-five yarder over the bar after Rodriguez – one of his best matches in Wellington’s colours – and Barbarouses – likewise – had combined to good effect.

Back came Melbourne on the hour, and a moment when they surely knew that this wasn’t meant to be their night. Rojas’ corner picked out Leigh Broxham, who was lurking on the edge of the penalty area.

Without breaking stride, he executed the perfect cushioned volley, steering it expertly towards the top left-hand corner of the net for what looked to be a dead-set leveller, until Moss, scrambling across his goal, launched himself to his left and pulled off a stunning fingertip save to maintain the 1-0 scoreline.

Wellington launched an instant counter-attack, with Tratt’s determination to keep the ball alive achieving its objective near Melbourne’s left-hand corner flag, with Broxham content to let the ball run out of play. The fullback had Smeltz in close support, and the striker promptly drilled in a cross which parted Krishna’s hair as he flew in to attempt to head the ball home.

Melbourne were starting to move through the gears, however, and in the 64th minute produced their best move of the match, with Berisha, Troisi, substitute Daniel Georgievski, Rojas – despite going down under Rossi’s challenge – and Valeri combining for Berisha to tuck the ball home.

Sadly for Melbourne, he was well offside when doing so, and the icy glare Berisha directed at referee’s assistant Sarah Jones was met with a butter-melting smile from the official – not even the temperamental one could top that!

Melbourne were furious with referee Griffiths-Jones two minutes later when he awarded no more than a free-kick for a tackle from behind on Berisha by Durante. The incident upset the visitors’ composure – even Thomas was affected, handling the ball outside his penalty area three minutes later when dealing with an Ansell header with Smeltz in close proximity.

The visitors kept pressing, with substitute Mitch Austin working a short corner fourteen minutes from time with Troisi, who delivered a lovely cross to the near post, where Rojas was arriving on cue. He guided his header across the face of goal.

Sadly for Melbourne, that was as close as they were to come, as it was Wellington who dominated the final ten minutes of the contest, starting with an 83rd minute raid. Moss threw the ball out to Thomas Doyle, who sent substitute Michael McGlinchey galloping on ahead of him down the left.

He swept past two opponents, then evaded another en route to the by-line, from where he fizzed in a low cross through the legs of Bonevacia, who was racing in at the near post with two defenders for company. Barbarouses gathered the ball and saw his shot blocked, with the rebound falling to Rodriguez, about whose resulting shot no more need be said!

Five minutes later, McGlinchey picked out Barbarouses on the far post with a cross which the striker somehow guided past the upright with his head. Seconds later, Bonevacia had a shot blocked, with McGlinchey letting fly from the rebound. Thomas tipped this shot away to Barbarouses, who set up Rodriguez for a shot which Melbourne’s ‘keeper saved superbly.

But from the resulting corner, Wellington doubled their lead. McGlinchey’s corner was cleared back to him, and his resulting cross was met superbly by Tratt, who powered home a header over Thomas which sealed Melbourne’s fate in stoppage time.

The home team weren’t finished, however, with the coup de grace being applied by Barbarouses with virtually the last kick of the match. He caught Broxham in possession just inside Melbourne’s half before motoring downfield until, twenty-five yards from goal, he unleashed a swerving low drive which careered past Thomas into the bottom far corner of the net – 3-0, and a richly deserved win it was, too.

Match details

Crowd:  5,865

Wellington Phoenix FC:  Moss (gk); Tratt, Durante, Rossi (booked, 51), Doyle; Lia, Bonevacia, Rodriguez (booked, 4) (Finkler, 90); Barbarouses, Smeltz, Krishna (McGlinchey, 72)

Coach:  Des Buckingham

Melbourne Victory FC:  Thomas (booked, 69); Geria (booked, 47) (Georgievski, 55), Ansell, Baro, Broxham (booked, 86); Valeri, Troisi, Bozanic (Beister, 85); Rojas, Berisha, Ben Khalfallah (booked, 67) (Austin, 68)

Coach:   Kevin Muscat

Points and ratings

Match  7/10
Pitch  9/10

Referee  Kris Griffiths Jones  6.5/10

Player points:
3  Bonevacia
2  Barbarouses
1  Rodriguez