The Wellington Phoenix will be surely complaining tonight, but the majority of them will not complain on Ufuk Talay’s team performance – but yes in the bad luck Phoenix had when facing the current A-League Champions at Leichhardt Oval.
The game started with Sydney showing their attacking impetus with the forwards Adam le Fondre and Kosta Barbarouses – but none of them could really find the target. It was Brandon O’Neill that really could bread the deadlock at 17th minute for the home side, after corner and pinball inside the penalty box, the midfielder could hit Stefan Marinovic’s nets.
After conceding, Phoenix kept their focus and started to dominate the game. The English forward David Ball could create some turmoil into Sydney defense alongside some long-range shots of the youngsters Callum McCowatt.
The second half kept the same scenario of the ending of the first: Wellington Phoenix keeping their pressure looking for an equalizer. Plenty of goalscoring chances were created and Nix displayed an entertaining football – it was about to come the goal when Ulisses Dávila enters the area, shots but is denied by Andrew Redmayne – the rebound is taken by David Ball that hits the posts and Callum McCowatt just cannot keep the play dangerous after another rebound.
With so many chances, the goal was near to come – just needed someone to pull the trigger. It was Ulisses Davila, the first Mexican player to score in the A-League, that received a good pass by Jaushua Sotirio, beats one defender and fires the ball the deflects and finds the low right corner of Sydney’s goalkeeper. Finally, at the 69th minute of play, the game as levelled. This was the first goal of the season for the Nix.
The pressure was going to continue: with still twenty minutes plus stoppage time to played, maybe Phoenix could grab a win away against the current A-League champions playing a very good football. It was not to be.
After nearly 10 minutes of pressure and keeping the ball in forward positions, a silly foul commited by Matti Steinmann allowed Sydney a chance – enough for O’Neill to cross and find a unlikely Rhyan Grant inside the box to tap it home. The near touch surprised Marinovic that could not make stop the ball to enter the goal. It was the second goal of the home team.
To end a bad day for the Wellington team, the young Liberato Cacace – that was having a very good game – after a reckless challenge on Anthony Caceres. With the help of VAR, the young New Zealander was sent off and will miss the next game of his team.
Despite being reduced to 10-men, Phoenix added Reno Piscopo and Ben Waine – subbing Matti Steinmann and Jaushua Sotirio respectively – and keep trying to find an equaliser. The best chance for the New Zealanders was with free-kick taken by Reno Piscopo that passed just close to the post of Andew Redmayne.
Phoenix unfortunately has now two defeats in two games played and will now face Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium, 6pm NZT. Despite of missing the important Liberato Cacace for this match, the new marquee import striker Gary Hooper is likely to have his debut in this match and the fans hope the Englishmen can help the team to finish better the goal chances produced today.