FFA Cup Match Review: Wellington Phoenix vs. Avondale FC

The Wellington Phoenix are through to the quarter-finals of the FFA Cup for the first time in the club’s history after delivering a swift response to Friday night’s heavy defeat at Newcastle.

The Phoenix have beaten Avondale FC 4-1 in their round of 16 tie at ABD Stadium in Melbourne, jumping out to a 3-nil lead before the hosts were reduced to 10 men midway through the first-half.

Jaushua Sotirio scored a classy brace, while fellow forward Ben Waine and substitute Luka Prso also found the back of the net for the resurgent Nix, who have booked a quarter-final meeting with reigning A-League champions Melbourne City.

“It was a good response,” Phoenix head coach Ufuk Talay told media post-match. “I think it was a very good first-half. I think it was a mature, professional performance from the players and we capitalised on the opportunities we created.

“It’s always disappointing to concede goals, whether we’re playing against 10 or 11. At the end of the day I don’t like conceding goals.

“In the second-half we didn’t adapt to the changes that they made to their formation, which is the disappointing side for me.

“But overall it’s a game that we needed, it’s a performance that we needed and the win I think will give the boys confidence again.”

Talay made five changes to the Phoenix XI that started the 4-0 defeat to the Newcastle Jets on Friday night, with Sotirio, Waine, Nicholas Pennington, Louis Fenton and Sam Sutton promoted to the starting line-up.

It was Avondale FC, not Wellington, who almost made a dream start to the match with a goal inside the opening minute, but Phoenix ‘keeper Oli Sail was able to produce a quality save to deny to the Avengers.

Just three minutes later the Phoenix had their opener with Sotirio blasting a first time shot past the Avondale goalkeeper, after getting on the end of a perfectly weighted through ball from David Ball.

Ball and Reno Piscopo were a constant threat in the two playmaker roles and set the tone for Wellington’s bounce back performance.

Sotirio had his second before a quarter of an hour was gone, this time nodding down a flick on from Waine and nonchalantly chipping the ‘keeper.

The Phoenix’s third came from a well-crafted short corner in the 24th minute. Piscopo found Alex Rufer unmarked at the back post, the captain headed back across goal and Waine swept home from a couple of yards out.

Moments later Avondale FC were down to 10 men when Blake Carpenter was given a straight red card for a bad tackle on Fenton. Fortunately the right back was able to play on after receiving some medical attention.

Wellington could have had a fourth goal before halftime after Piscopo put Waine through on goal, but the young striker wasn’t able to beat the Avondale ‘keeper on this occasion.

Rory Brian denied Piscopo too shortly after halftime, when Waine found the playmaker in space on the edge of the area.

Avondale enjoyed a good spell during the second-half with Sail forced to adjust well to save a deflected shot, while centre back Tim Payne made a great block to deny the Avengers on the counter.

The hosts scored their goal in the 74th minute, with centre back Matthew Reid heading home from a short corner of their own.

The Phoenix responded well to conceding and Prso completed the scoring nine minutes from fulltime when he flicked in a cross from fellow substitute Callan Elliot, guiding the ball into the back of the net for his first goal for the club.

The Wellington Phoenix will return to their base in Sydney tomorrow to prepare for Sunday night’s fifth round Isuzu UTE A-League match against Sydney FC.

Wellington Phoenix: 
20. Oli SAIL (gk), 6. Tim PAYNE, 9. David BALL, 10. Reno PISCOPO (12. Luka PRSO 75th min), 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO (43. Oskar VAN HATTUM 59th min), 13. Nicholas PENNINGTON (23. Clayton LEWIS 46th min), 14. Alex RUFER (c), 16. Louis FENTON (17. Callan ELLIOT 58th min), 18. Ben WAINE, 19. Sam SUTTON, 21. Joshua LAWS (33. Finn SURMAN 88th min)
Unused substitutes: 40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 8. Ben OLD

Avondale FC: 1. Rory BRIAN (gk), 2. Scott HILLIAR (c), 3. James RICCOBENE (17. Phillip RICCOBENE 65th min), 5. Matthew REID (4. Jye SPITERI 86th min), 13. Yitayew TOWNS, 14. Blake CARPENTER, 18. Kristian TRAJCESKI (19. Brandon LUNDY 86th min), 22. Stefan VALENTINI, 25. Mario BARCIA (15. Adam EL HAYEK 86th min), 29. Yazid SAID (10. Jonatan GERMANO 65th min), 33. Joseph KATEBIAN
Unused substitutes: 44. Mayen MAYEN (gk), 12. Christos THEODORAKOPOULOS,

Jaushua SOTIRIO (Wellington Phoenix) – 4th & 14th mins
Ben WAINE (Wellington Phoenix) – 24th min
Matthew REID (Avondale FC) – 74th min
Luka PRSO (Wellington Phoenix) – 81st min