Phoenix collects first point in A-League season

Wellington Phoenix almost celebrated a win in their trip to Melbourne after playing against the local side of Melbourne Victory. A quality finish from Ola Toivonen after a defensive mistake prevented the New Zealand club to collect all points from this clash.

If Phoenix could not avoid the defeat, they would break a record none team in the league would want to: they would turn in to the first team ever to start the A-League with five defeats in a row. After losing against Western United, Sydney FC, Perth Glory and Melbourne City, this match against Victory was very important for Phoenix to finally kick-off in points their season and really reach the potential this squad have.

Despite not having their top striker Gary Hooper in the match, Phoenix shown a good offensive production and could score early in the game thru a penalty kick well taken by the Mexican Ulises Davila. The VAR helped Phoenix after calling central referee attention to a handball in the area after a corner – the ball was accidentally blocked by Victory star Toivonen with the arm and it ended up putting the ball in the spot for Davila that scored his third in the season – currently second tied with various players in the golden boot race.

Davila penalty that put Phoenix upfront

After scoring, Phoenix put their lines deeper and got their attentions to defend their lead. Stefan Marinovic made a fantastic stop still in the first half to avoid an equalizer for Victory. The break saw the Phoenix upfront in the scoreline for the first time in the season by 1-0 margin.

In the second half the speedsters forwards of Phoenix could create some trouble: Jaushua Sotirio, David Ball and Callum McCowatt had decent runs and created some opportunities, but always Melbourne was more dangerous than the Nix attacks. Ola Toivonen was always a danger, combining well with Kenny Athiu and Elvis Kamsoba.

Unfortunately for Phoenix, Tim Payne clearence was blocked and the ball was gifted to Toivonen inside the box. The Swedish international dribbled Steven Taylor and with a classy finish put the ball out of Marinovic reach to equalize the match for the home side.

Toivonen scored his 20th goal for Victory

Wellington Phoenix introduced the young Ben Waine in the match just after the ball in place of the English forward David Ball, hoping that the speed of the player would help them in the counter-attacks. Toivonen had a fantastic chance to score again after a set up play by Storm Roux and Elvis Kamsoba, the finish was denied for the goalkeeper that most stops made in the A-League season since now, the All Whites first choice Stefan Marinovic.

The game also marked the debut of the young Australian Cameron Devlin and the New Zealand international and former Auckland City defender Te Atawhai Hudson-Wihongi. Victory look always dangerous, but the best chance in the final minutes came from a mid-range shot of Phoenix midfielder Alex Rufer, that forced Victory goalkeeper Lawrence Thomas to make a fantastic save to avoid Rufer first A-League goal.

The match ended in a 1-1 draw but certainly this is still not enough for Phoenix in the season. The fans keep hoping for the comeback of Gary Hooper – the striker still did not play a full match since coming to New Zealand. The next opportunty for Phoenix to leave the last place in the A-League standings will be next 23rd November when they play at home against Brisbane Roar.

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