The Wellington Phoenix have qualified for the finals for the seventh time in the club’s 15-year history and the second time in three years under head coach Ufuk Talay. Saturday night’s elimination final against Western United in Melbourne will be the Phoenix’s 10th playoff game. We look back on how the team has fared in their nine previous finals matches.
Elimination final – February 21, 2010
Wellington Phoenix 1 Perth Glory 1 (4-2 on penalties)
More than 24 thousand fans turned out to watch the Phoenix’s maiden finals game and they got their money’s worth. Chris Greenacre gave the Nix a 1-0 halftime lead before Perth defender Scott Neville equalised midway through the second-half. It remained deadlocked at fulltime and after a further half an hour of extra time. Paul Ifill, Andrew Durante, Tim Brown and Adrian Caceres converted their spot-kicks in the shoot-out and Liam Reddy saved Perth’s second and third penalties to secure the Phoenix a place in the next round.
Minor semi-final – March 7, 2010
Wellington Phoenix 3 Newcastle Jets 1 (after extra time)
The Phoenix returned to Wellington a fortnight later and the near 33 thousand strong crowd were treated to another classic. Matt Thompson gave the Jets the early lead before Tim Brown equalised for the Nix shortly after the half hour mark. Extra time was again required to separate the two sides. Paul Ifill gave the Phoenix the lead right at the end of the first half of extra time before cult hero Eugene Dadi added the icing on the cake by scoring Wellington’s third.
Preliminary final – March 13, 2010
Sydney FC 4 Wellington Phoenix 2
The Phoenix headed across the ditch the following week to face premiers Sydney FC for a place in the grand final. Chris Payne came off Sydney’s bench to score two first-half goals (the second of which was contentious), either side of an Andrew Durante header, and give the Sky Blues a 2-1 halftime lead. Alex Brosque and Mark Bridge added Sydney’s third and fourth goals midway through the second-half to all but end the Phoenix’s fairy tale first playoff run before Eugene Dadi scored a late consolation goal for Wellington. Sydney FC went on to beat Melbourne Victory on penalties in the grand final.
Elimination final – February 18, 2011
Adelaide United 1 Wellington Phoenix 0
The Phoenix returned to the finals the following season after securing the final spot in the top six. Their second playoff journey would last just 90 minutes with Travis Dodd scoring a goal midway through the second-half to secure Adelaide United a place in the next round. Talismanic Nix forward Paul Ifill played a limited role off the bench in his first game back from a two-month injury.
Elimination final – March 30, 2012
Wellington Phoenix 3 Sydney FC 2
In the first season under Welnix ownership the Phoenix secured a home elimination final by finishing fourth on the ladder. After a scoreless first half, goals from the retiring Tim Brown and fellow All White Ben Sigmund gave the Nix a 2-0 lead with less than a quarter of an hour remaining. Young Sydney forward Joel Chianese then scored twice in four minutes to but the Sky Blues back on level terms. Up stepped Paul Ifill who won the Phoenix a penalty and then converted from the spot to put Wellington through to the next round.
Minor semi-final – April 7, 2012
Perth Glory 3 Wellington Phoenix 2 (after extra time)
The Phoenix headed to Western Australia the following week to face third place finishers Perth Glory. After falling behind early, Chris Greenacre drew the Nix level early in the second-half before Manny Muscat put Wellington ahead in the 54th minute. Ben Sigmund was forced off with a hamstring injury moments later and Irishman Billy Mehmet capitalised to equalise for Perth. The minor semi-final went to extra time and substitute Todd Howarth was the hero for the Glory, scoring the match-winner with nine minutes remaining.
Elimination final – May 3, 2015
Wellington Phoenix 0 Melbourne City 2
Ernie Merrick guided the Phoenix back to the finals, after a two year absence, in his second season in charge. On the back of a record points haul the Nix finished fourth on the ladder and secured a home elimination playoff against Melbourne City, who finished 11 points behind them. After a scoreless first-half former Socceroos striker Josh Kennedy gave City the lead in the 61st minute. A deflected strike 10 minutes later doubled the visitors lead and the Phoenix weren’t able to find a way back into the match.
Elimination final – May 3, 2019
Melbourne Victory 3 Wellington Phoenix 1
The Phoenix returned to the finals exactly four years later. Johnny Warren Medallist Roy Krishna led the Nix to a sixth place finish and a trip to Melbourne to face the reigning champion Victory. Three defeats in their final four matches saw them miss out on a home playoff. German defender Georg Niedermeier put the Victory in front at halftime before former Phoenix forward Kosta Barbarouses doubled their advantage early in the second-half. Krishna pulled a goal back for the Nix, but Swedish international Ola Toivonen extinguished Wellington’s hopes of a comeback by scoring Melbourne’s third.
Elimination final – August 22, 2020
Wellington Phoenix 0 Perth Glory 1
The Phoenix were back in the finals the following year. Ufuk Talay guided the Nix to third on the table, the club’s highest ever regular season finish, in his first season in charge. Unfortunately, the start of the COVID-19 outbreak meant the team was forced to play the elimination final against Perth Glory in Sydney. The Nix dominated the match but weren’t able to equalise after Joel Chianese scored an early goal for Perth.