Liberty A-League Round 6 Match Review

The Wellington Phoenix have already surpassed last season’s win tally just six matches into the 2023-24 Liberty A-League.

The Phoenix have recorded their fourth win of the new campaign, coming from a goal down at halftime to beat top of the table Perth Glory 2-1 at Go Media Stadium Mt Smart in Auckland.

American winger Hope Breslin drew the Nix level early in the second half before Chloe Knott scored what was ultimately the match-winner in the 61st minute.

“It’s a big result for us to beat Perth who were obviously flying high,” Phoenix head coach Paul Temple told media post-match.

“I thought in the first half we played some really good football. We combined well…and I think we were just lacking in the final third – decision-making and a little bit of quality. But the first two thirds of the build-up was really good.

“Bit disappointed to go in [to halftime] down because it was our error that led to the goal, but that’s what happens when you play this way.

“We talked at halftime and felt like we had enough to come back out and win the game so it was nice to see that.

“We saw a different side of the performance in the last 20-30 minutes where we were strong, we were resolute, we didn’t really give away any big chances and we defended really well and sometimes you need that.”

Wellington remain third on the league ladder, but are now just a point behind Perth and Melbourne City heading into the international break.

“We’ve got a few knocks and niggles and people were playing through a little bit of pain so I think it’s come at a really good time for us,” Temple said.

“I was conscious we didn’t want to go back-to-back defeats and then have a break so winning and in that manner against the team that’s top of the league is great for us and now we can enjoy our break a little bit more.

“We’re giving everyone four days off next week so that’ll be nice to have a little bit of a mental refresh.”

Paul Temple made two changes to the XI which started last Saturday night’s defeat to Central Coast, one of which was enforced. Inform midfielder Macey Fraser was unable to take her place in the side due to illness and was replaced by club captain Annalie Longo, while new Football Fern Manaia Elliott replaced Emma Main on the wing.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – NOVEMBER 25: Annalie Longo of Wellington leads the team out during the A-League Women round six match between Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory at Go Media Stadium, on November 25, 2023, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Elliott started brightly and shot narrowly over the Perth crossbar in just the second minute.

The 18-year-old winger also slipped Mariana Speckmaier into the box half a dozen minutes later and the Venezuela international cut in between to Glory players and unleashed a shot that deflected into the side netting of Morgan Aquino’s goal.

Despite the Phoenix’s bright start it was the visitors who took the lead, with English striker Millie Farrow finding the back of the net in the 21st minute. Perth pounced on a wayward infield pass and found Farrow who, despite falling to the ground in the box, manage to curl a shot past Wellington ‘keeper Rylee Foster.

The Nix finished the first half with a flurry with Longo having a shot blocked in the box before Elliott blazed over the Glory crossbar.

Elliott and Longo played a key role in the Phoenix’s equaliser three minutes into the second half. Elliott won possession high up the pitch and then Longo picked out a perfect pass for Breslin who then slotted a left-footed shot past Aquino for her maiden A-League goal.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – NOVEMBER 25: Hope Breslin of Wellington (C) celebrates a goalduring the A-League Women round six match between Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory at Go Media Stadium, on November 25, 2023, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Aquino had to have her wits about her to tip a long-range effort from the young winger over the bar on the hour mark but there was nothing to do to prevent Knott giving Wellington the lead moments later.

Speckmaier rattled the crossbar with a looping header and Knott headed the follow up off a Perth defender and into the back of the net.

The Nix defended resolutely for the remaining half an hour, with Foster only called on to make significant save. That came in the 76th minute when the Canadian produced a top save to push a powerful long-range effort from Perth substitute Isobel Dalton over the bar.

The Wellington Phoenix will return to action after the international break when they return to Porirua Park to face the Melbourne Victory on Sunday, December 10.

AUCKLAND, NEW ZEALAND – NOVEMBER 25: Chloe Knott of Wellington (L) celebrates the win during the A-League Women round six match between Wellington Phoenix and Perth Glory at Go Media Stadium, on November 25, 2023, in Auckland, New Zealand. (Photo by Fiona Goodall/Getty Images)

Wellington Phoenix:  1. Rylee FOSTER, 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 5. Marisa van der MEER, 7. Chloe KNOTT, 11. Hope BRESLIN (20. Emma MAIN 78th), 13. Michaela FOSTER (2. Zoe MCMEEKEN 71st), 16. Annalie LONGO (c) (23. Rebecca LAKE 71st), 17. Mariana SPECKMAIER, 18. Hailey DAVIDSON, 21. Manaia ELLIOTT (9. Kelli BROWN 78th).
Unused substitutes: 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk).

Perth Glory: 1. Morgan AQUINO (gk), 3. Jessika COWART, 4. Natasha RIGBY (c), 7. Liz ANTON, 8. Hana LOWRY, 9. Millie FARROW, 10. Rasamee PHONSONGKHAM, 11. Grace JALE, 12. Sofia SAKALIS (20. Quinley QUEZADA 65th), 22. Claudia MIHOCIC (25. Grace JOHNSTON 50th), 27. Georgia CASSIDY (23. Isobel DALTON 65th).
Unused substitutes: 29. Lia BAILEY (gk), 14. Tia STONEHILL.

9. Millie FARROW (Perth Glory) – 21st
11. Hope BRESLIN (Wellington Phoenix) – 48th
7. Chloe KNOTT (Wellington Phoenix) – 61st

3. Kate TAYLOR (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 31st
21. Manaia ELLIOTT (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 52nd