The Wellington Phoenix have missed the opportunity to climb to second in the Liberty A-League.
The Phoenix have given up a 1-0 halftime lead to lose 2-1 to Adelaide United at Marden Sports Complex in South Australia.
The result drops Wellington to fourth on the ladder, a point behind Melbourne Victory.
The Nix dominated the first half of Saturday evening’s match, but only had Emma Main’s second goal in as many games to show for it.
The second half was much more of a contest with the Reds scoring twice in the final quarter of an hour to snatch all three points.
“It was one of those games where we saw the best and the worst of us I think,” Phoenix head coach Paul Temple said post-match.
“I think we were fantastic in the first half, created enough clear opportunities to probably win two games of football.
“We obviously didn’t take those opportunities which was disappointing because our play probably deserved them. We should have been out of sight really.
“We wanted to do the same in the second half and obviously play the same way, but we got tested. They came out and got into us a lot more and pressed us, and we just could not find our passing rhythm at all.
“We probably played the furthest away from what we want to play in terms of style, and we just couldn’t put any passages of play together whatsoever really.”
Temple was also disappointed with how they allowed Adelaide to score twice.
“Obviously we’ve conceded two pretty sloppy goals.
“Adelaide haven’t really opened us up with good football or passed their way through us, and we’ve gifted them some goals there.
“We’ve got to learn about when teams come after us how we can keep that belief and play through teams under pressure and back ourselves.”
He has refused to blame any of his players for the goals and is philosophical about the defeat.
“Players might make individual mistakes but we’re a team and we’ve got to wear those and do that collectively.
“And collectively we just weren’t as good as we should have been in the second half and we’re going to have to learn from that, and come back and be stronger for it.
“The process takes time and you’ve got to go through a little bit of hurt to come through the other side. It’ll be good for us in the long run, and we’ll learn from it.”
Paul Temple made three changes to the XI which started Sunday’s 2-2 draw against Melbourne Victory, with Football Ferns squad members Mackenzie Barry, Michaela Foster and Manaia Elliott returning to the starting line-up in place of Zoe McMeeken, Hope Breslin and the ill Kelli Brown. McMeeken and Breslin were named amongst the substitutes, which included Michaela Robertson for the first time this season.
Emma Main started as the most central of the three forwards and she was in the thick of the action in the first five minutes. She flashed a long-range shot over the bar and came close to providing the finishing touch to a dangerous free-kick from Michaela Foster.
Mariana Speckmaier, who started on the left wing, should have put the Phoenix in front in the 12th minute when Foster slipped her through one-on-one with Adelaide ‘keeper Annalee Grove. Speckmaier beat Grove but unfortunately her shot rattled the left-hand post and the Reds were able to clear the rebound.
Main made no mistake nine minutes later when she got on the end of a well-timed through ball from Macey Fraser and slipped her shot underneath Grove.
The Nix had two big chances to score their second in the 35th minute as Wellington started to dominate. Elliott blazed over the bar from six yards out after Annalie Longo picked her out with a well-placed cutback and then Longo had a shot deflect narrowly wide of goal after a cross from Elliott.
Speckmaier and Main both came close to doubling the Phoenix’s the lead before halftime with the Venezuela international heading just off target before Main curled a shot narrowly wide of the right-hand post in time added on.
The chances were few and far between after halftime with Fraser, who had a couple of shots sail over the bar in the first half, having the Nix’s best opportunity four minutes into the second half when she found some space on the edge of the Adelaide box and forced a great save from Grove, who parried her effort away from goal.
Temple made his first substitution in the 57th minute, bringing Hope Breslin on for Elliott, and a quarter of an hour later he made a double change with Alyssa Whinham and Michaela Robertson replacing Longo and Main.
The Reds equalised shortly after. Rylee Foster, who hadn’t been tested up until this point, made a great tackle to deny Chelsie Dawber one-on-one at the top of her box, but she was unable to stop substitute Emily Condon who showed great composure to evade Foster and shoot past a couple of Wellington defenders on the line.
Foster made a couple of sharp saves at her near post moments later to keep out powerful shots from Dawber, while Annalee Grove made a great save at the other end of the pitch to deny Robertson, who used her speed to get in behind the Adelaide defence.
It remained 1-1 until the 85th minute when Rylee Foster was unable to deal with a left-wing free-kick from Nanako Sasaki and could only palm her cross-come-shot into the Phoenix net, giving the Reds a shock lead.
The hosts held on to secure their first win of the season and hand the Nix just their third defeat.
The Wellington Phoenix will return home tomorrow and will quickly turn their attentions to next Saturday’s match against the Newcastle Jets at Sky Stadium.
You can get your tickets to the Nixmas double-header, also featuring the men’s match against Western Sydney Wanderers, here.
Wellington Phoenix: 1. Rylee FOSTER, 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 6. Macey FRASER, 13. Michaela FOSTER (2. Zoe MCMEEKEN 82nd), 16. Annalie LONGO (c) (10. Alyssa WHINHAM 72nd), 17. Mariana SPECKMAIER, 18. Hailey DAVIDSON, 20. Emma MAIN (14 Michaela ROBERTSON 72nd), 21. Manaia ELLIOTT (11. Hope BRESLIN 57th), 23. Rebecca LAKE.
Unused substitutes: 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk).
Adelaide United: 1. Annalee GROVE (gk), 2. Emily HODGSON, 6. Hannah BLAKE (15. Katie BOWLER 83rd), 7. Mariah LEE (8. Emily CONDON 67th), 10. Chelsie DAWBER (14. Jenna HOLTZ 90+4), 11. Isabel HODGSON (c), 12. Nanako SASAKI, 13. Ella TONKIN, 16. Dylan HOLMES, 19. Maruschka WALDUS, 23. Alana JANCEVSKI (5. Sarah MORGAN 46th).
Unused substitutes: 21. Claudia JENKINS (gk).
20. Emma MAIN (Wellington Phoenix) – 21st
8. Emily CONDON (Adelaide United) – 75th
12. Nanako SASAKI (Adelaide United) – 85th
23. Rebecca LAKE (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 46th
21. Manaia ELLIOTT (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 54th
20. Emma MAIN (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 57th