MATCH REVIEW | Phoenix Stunned by Last Gasp Strike


The Wellington Phoenix are unlikely to ever suffer a more devastating loss than the 2-1 defeat to Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Saturday evening.

Still seeking their first win of the season, it was a game the Wellington side could, and should, have won, but instead were stunned by a 93rd minute goal by Sydney-s debutant Serbian international striker Ranko Despotovic.

The Phoenix had got back on level terms three minutes earlier through Kenny Cunningham-s first goal for the club, and had gone looking for a winner rather than settle for the draw.

It was a game in which the Phoenix dominated possession throughout, nullified the Alessandro Del Piero threat, but failed to capitalise on the several goal scoring chances they created.

From the first minute the Phoenix seized the initiative and could have opened the scoring within that time.

However it was Sydney who opened the scoring in the 34th minute through a superb Richard Garcia strike.

The second half belonged to the Phoenix but again their finishing let them down.

It wasn-t till the first minute of injury time that they got back on terms with Costa Rica international Cunningham, who had earlier hit the post, scoring.
Just when it seemed the Phoenix would take a much needed point back across the Tasman Despotovic struck.

The Phoenix players were devastated and the dressing room was more sombre than when they were hammered 7-1 by Sydney last season.

That night they knew they had let themselves down. This time they had given everything they had only to lose the points in the last seconds.

Coach Ernie Merrick was as stunned as his players but was phlegmatic in assessing the game.

“If you don-t take your chances you can be punished like that,” Merrick said.

“I felt it was an extremely disappointing result but a very good performance.

“I know it doesn-t sound right but our possession play throughout the 90 minutes was very good.

“We built from the back, our balls forward were good but, the same as our last game, we weren-t finishing well.

“It was one of those games where we hit the post, missed an easy header right in front of goal and Jeremy Brockie missed when clear on goal where normally he would bury it.”