Men’s Match Review: Wellington Phoenix vs. Adelaide United

A tough night for the Wellington Phoenix to start 2022.

The Phoenix have been beaten 4-0 by Adelaide United in their seventh round Isuzu UTE A-League men’s match played in sweltering heat at Coopers Stadium in Adelaide.

Adelaide led 1-0 at halftime and pulled clear of Wellington with two second-half penalties.

“Coming in 1-nil at halftime I still thought we were in the game and then…we give away a penalty, which I think kills the game,” Phoenix head coach Ufuk Talay told media post-game.

“They go up 2-nil and we give away a silly penalty which makes it 3-nil and the game is practically done.”

Talay made four changes to the XI which started their last outing against Sydney FC in round five on December 19. Alex Paulsen made his starting debut in goal in place of the injured Oli Sail, James McGarry and Callan Elliott returned as the fullbacks and Ben Old was promoted to the starting line-up in the absence of Reno Piscopo.

Paulsen was called into action five minutes into the match and moments later was picking the ball up from the back of his net.

Adelaide striker George Blackwood got in the way of a Craig Goodwin shot and fortunately for the hosts found the bottom corner.

The Phoenix had a few good spells of possession but were unable to test James Delianov in Adelaide’s goal before he was forced to be replaced half an hour into the match with a dislocated shoulder, after colliding with Phoenix forward Ben Waine.

Instead it was Paulsen who was called upon to deny Stefan Mauk (twice) and Ryan Kitto getting on the scoresheet.

The Phoenix only managed one shot on goal in the first half with Adelaide’s substitute ‘keeper Steven Hall making a routine save from a Waine shot in the 42nd minute.

Talay responded by making a triple change at halftime with academy players Oskar van Hattum and Finn Surman (on A-League debut), and young midfielder Nicholas Pennington introduced in place of Jaushua Sotirio, Alex Rufer and Callan Elliot.

“I just wanted a change. I wanted a bit of energy in the game and I’ve always been a coach that if we’re going to lose a game I’m going to lose it my way,” Talay said.

“I threw out some young bodies out there and they brought us some energy.

“I thought the two young boys…did well when they came on.”

The Phoenix made a promising start to the second-half but were soon two goals down when Craig Goodwin scored the first of his two penalties in the 54th minute.

Referee Daniel Elder contentiously awarded the spot-kick after intervention from the Video Assistant Referee and it came immediately after van Hattum appeared to be fouled on the edge of the Adelaide area but Elder waved it away.

Goodwin scored his second penalty in the 69th minute, sending Paulsen the wrong way for the second time after McGarry fouled Bernardo Oliveira in the box.

The Nix continued to search for a goal and Waine forced a good save from Hall in the 77th minute, but shortly after Adelaide had their fourth when Spanish defender Javi Lopez blasted home at the back post from a Kitto cross.

Van Hattum blazed over the bar and David Ball shot straight at Hall in the closing stages but the 16-year-old ‘keeper managed to keep Wellington scoreless.

The Wellington Phoenix are back in action on Wednesday night when they will face Melbourne City in their rescheduled FFA Cup quarter-final before meeting the Newcastle Jets in round nine of the Isuzu UTE A-League next Saturday.

Wellington Phoenix:
40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 5. James MCGARRY (16. Louis FENTON 69th), 6. Tim PAYNE, 8. Ben OLD, 9. David BALL, 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO (43. Oskar VAN HATTUM 46th), 14. Alex RUFER (c) (33. Finn SURMAN 46th), 17. Callan ELLIOT (13. Nicholas PENNINGTON 46th), 18. Ben WAINE, 21. Josh LAWS (19. Sam SUTTON 79th), 23. Clayton LEWIS
Unused substitutes: 30. Henry GRAY (gk), 12. Luka PRSO

Adelaide United: 1. James DELIANOV (gk) (50. Steven HALL (gk) 31st), 7. Ryan KITTO, 8. Stefan MAUK (c), 10. ISAIAS, 11. Craig GOODWIN, 14. George BLACKWOOD (19. Yaya DUKULY 62nd), 21. Javier LOPEZ, 22. Michael JAKOBSEN, 23. Jacob TRATT, 28. JUANDE (18. Joe CALETTI, 73rd), 31. Bernardo OLIVEIRA (6. Louis D’ARRIGO 73rd)
Unused substitutes: 3. George TIMOTHEOU, 25. Lachlan BARR, 41. Alexandar POPOVIC

14. George BLACKWOOD (Adelaide United) – 7th
11. Craig GOODWIN (Adelaide United) – 54th pen & 69th pen
21. Javier LOPEZ (Adelaide Untied) – 80th

18. Ben WAINE (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 29th
23. Clayton LEWIS (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 46th
10. ISAIAS (Adelaide United) – yellow – 48th
7. Ryan KITTO (Adelaide United) – yellow – 56th
13. Nicholas PENNINGTON (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 73rd
23. Jacob TRATT (Adelaide United) – yellow – 75th
8. Stefan MAUK (Adelaide United) – yellow – 87th
21. Javier LOPEZ (Adelaide Untied) – yellow – 90+1