Men’s Match Review: Wellington Phoenix vs. Brisbane Roar

The Brisbane Roar have brought an end to the Wellington Phoenix’s seven-match unbeaten run in the Isuzu UTE A-League.

The Roar have beaten the Phoenix 2-1 at Moreton Daily Stadium in Redcliffe, after leading 1-0 at halftime.

Veteran forward Gary Hooper came off the bench to draw the Nix level in the 72nd minute, but Wellington conceded what was ultimately the deciding goal just four minutes later.

To make matters worse for the Phoenix, captain Alex Rufer limped off before halftime with a serious-looking knee injury. He will have scans on Monday.

Head coach Ufuk Talay told media after the match that he didn’t think his team deserved to win.

“The performance wasn’t good in the sense that we started off very sloppy and very sluggish,” Talay said.

“Second-half I felt like we grew into it again but still not the normal game that we play.”

Talay believes Wednesday night’s match against Newcastle took a lot out of his players.

“At the end of the day was our performance our best performance? I don’t think so.

“We can play a lot better, and we’ve shown we can play a lot better. It’s just one of those games with the short turnaround that I think influenced the game.

“We’ll learn from it, and we’ll move on.”

Ufuk Talay named the same XI which started the 3-2 win over the Jets, with attacking midfielder Reno Piscopo still side-lined with a calf strain. Hooper shook of his calf injury to be named on the bench.

The Phoenix made a lacklustre start and found themselves a goal down in just the seventh minute, when Roar midfielder Rahmat Akbari headed a floated cross into the top left corner of Oli Sail’s goal.

Sail’s opposite Jordan Holmes wasn’t called into action until the 14th minute but he was the busier of the two ‘keepers for the remainder of the half as the Nix grew into the game.

Wellington left back Sam Sutton hit the side-netting of Holmes’ goal in the 17th minute and moments later Gael Sandoval volleyed a Jaushua Sotirio cross narrowly over the bar.

David Ball headed wide midway through the half and Ben Waine forced a fine save from Holmes when he volleyed from a tight angle in the 33rd minute, but the Phoenix weren’t able to find an equaliser before halftime.

Rufer was forced off the field eight minutes before the break when he hurt his knee in a collision with Akbari.

His deputy, Oli Sail, ensured Wellington trailed by just a goal at halftime, clearing a Roar shot off his line with a strong left hand in the second minute of first half stoppage time.

The Phoenix dominated proceedings early in the second-half as Brisbane looked content to defend their 1-0 lead. But, after the Nix weren’t able to test Holmes in the Roar goal in the first 12 minutes of the half, Talay made a double change, bringing Hooper and Ben Old off the bench.

Wellington started to camp themselves inside Brisbane’s half and forced the Roar to defend deeper and deeper.

They were eventually rewarded in the 72nd minute when Clayton Lewis earned the Phoenix a corner after cannoning a free-kick off the right-hand post of Brisbane’s goal. From the resulting corner Hooper flicked on a Sotirio header past Holmes to draw the Nix level.

The Roar took less than four minutes to restore their lead, with substitute Henry Hore scoring at the second time of asking after Sail saved his first shot.

The Phoenix ‘keeper was called into action moments later to deny another Brisbane sub, Luke Ivanovic, on the counter-attack.

The Nix came close to creating an equaliser in the 82nd minute, when Ball and Sotirio combined inside the Roar box, but Holmes wasn’t tested by Ball’s shot.

Phoenix defender Josh Laws also headed straight at Holmes from a Wellington corner in the 90th minute.

Hooper had a great chance to draw the Phoenix level in the second minute of time added on, but his shot from the top of the box curled narrowly wide of the Brisbane goal.

It was to be the Nix’s final goalscoring opportunity as the Roar held on to take all three points.

The Wellington Phoenix will endeavour to return to winning ways on Friday night when they visit the Newcastle Jets.

The Phoenix will be without Oli Sail, Clayton Lewis, Ben Waine and Ben Old, who are flying to Qatar on Sunday evening to represent the All Whites at the Oceania World Cup qualifying tournament. David Ball will also miss the match through suspension, after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season late in second-half stoppage time.

Wellington Phoenix: 
20. Oli SAIL (gk), 4. Scott WOOTTON, 6. Tim PAYNE (16. Louis FENTON 76th), 7. Gael SANDOVAL (8. Ben OLD 57th), 9. David BALL, 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO, 14. Alex RUFER (c) (13. Nicholas PENNINGTON 37th), 18. Ben WAINE (88. Gary HOOPER 57th), 19. Sam SUTTON, 21. Josh LAWS, 23. Clayton LEWIS
Unused substitutes: 40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 32. George OTT, 33. Finn SURMAN

Brisbane Roar: 12. Jordan HOLMES (gk), 2. Scott NEVILLE, 5. Thomas ALDRED (c), 7. Rahmat AKBARI (9. Luke IVANOVIC 52nd), 15. Jesse DALEY (8. Matti STEINMAN 85th), 18. Ryo WADA (13. Henry HORE 52nd), 21. Nicholas OLSEN, 23. Juan LESCANO (16. Josh BRINDELL-SOUTH 69th), 26. Jay O’SHEA 27. Kai TREWIN, 35. Louis ZABALA
Unused substitutes: 1. Macklin FREKE (gk), 4. Anton MLINARIC, 29. Cyrus DEHMIE

7. Rahmat AKBARI (Brisbane Roar) – 7th
88. Gary HOOPER (Wellington Phoenix) – 72nd
13. Henry HORE (Brisbane Roar) – 76th

23. Juan LESCANO (Brisbane Roar) – yellow – 25th
6. Tim PAYNE (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 31st
14. Alex RUFER (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 36th
15. Jesse DALEY (Brisbane Roar) – yellow – 57th
9. David BALL (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 90+4