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

The Wellington Phoenix have surged into the top six of the Isuzu UTE A-League with their fourth win from five matches.

The Phoenix have beaten Brisbane Roar 3-0 at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney to pull level on points with fourth-placed Sydney FC.

English defender Scott Wootton scored his first goal for the club to give Wellington a deserved halftime lead, before a sublime strike from fellow new recruit Gael Sandoval doubled their advantage and Reno Piscopo completed the scoring midway through the second-half.

The Phoenix have now claimed 10 out of a possible 12 points during the ‘February Football Frenzy’.

“Very good performance.,” head coach Ufuk Talay told media post-game. “This is our fourth game in 11 days [and] the boys backed it up very well.

“I think it was a dominant display with and without the ball tonight and we scored some really good goals.”

After being bottom of the ladder a week and a half ago the Nix are now just three points off top spot.

“I think we’re building momentum…Performance wise I think we’re growing each game and hopefully that continues,” Talay said.

“There’s a lot of confidence within the group and the football that we’re playing.

“There’s still a long way to go, there’s still a lot of matches to be played, but that’s the aim to make the top six and play finals football.”

Talay named the same XI which started the previous two matches against Melbourne Victory and Adelaide United as the Phoenix looked to continue their unbeaten run.

The Phoenix started the better of the two sides and centre back Josh Laws headed an enticing cross from Clayton Lewis narrowly over the bar in just the second minute after a well-worked short corner.

Moments later Laws was called into action at the other end of the pitch to block a dangerous-looking Roar attack.

Clayton Lewis shot wide of Brisbane’s goal from distance in the 10th minute and two minutes later rattled the post from a near-perfect free kick.

The Roar grew into the game after the opening quarter of an hour. Wootton did well to block a shot from Brisbane captain Jay O’Shea in the 16th minute and just before the half hour mark Oli Sail produced a superb save to deny impressive Roar winger Henry Hore.

The Nix took the lead against the run of play somewhat when Wootton nodded home a Lewis corner at the back post in the 33rd minute.

Wellington controlled the game for the remainder of the half and David Ball came close to doubling their lead when he shot narrowly wide of Brisbane’s goal in the 36th minute after some clever footwork from Reno Piscopo.

Jaushua Sotirio created the Phoenix’s first chance of the second half in the 50th minute when he brushed off young Roar defender Kai Trewin, but his shot was straight at Macklin Freke in Brisbane’s goal.

The Roar were unlucky not to equalise in the 61st minute, when Hore beat Sail but struck the far post of the Phoenix goal and Wellington eventually managed to clear the danger.

Shortly after Sandoval doubled the Nix’s lead with a stellar strike. The Mexican was dared to shoot from the edge of the Brisbane area and he obliged by picking out the top corner of Freke’s goal.

Four minutes later the Phoenix had their third goal when Sotirio got in between the Roar back four and picked out Piscopo, who was able to take a couple of touches before beating Freke.

Sotirio and substitute Ben Waine had opportunities to add their names to the score sheet but weren’t as clinical in front of goal as their teammates.

Sail ensured the Phoenix kept their second clean sheet of the season when he showed quick reflexes to deny young Brisbane substitute Cyrus Dehmie six minutes from fulltime.

The Wellington Phoenix will return to Leichhardt Oval on Saturday evening when they play Sydney FC in their fifth match in 14 days.

Wellington Phoenix: 
20. Oli SAIL (gk), 4. Scott WOOTTON, 6. Tim PAYNE (16. Louis FENTON 82nd), 7. Gael SANDOVAL, 9. David BALL (18. Ben WAINE 73rd), 10. Reno PISCOPO (88. Gary HOOPER 90+2), 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO (43. Oskar VAN HATTUM 82nd), 14. Alex RUFER (c), 19. Sam SUTTON, 21. Joshua LAWS, 23. Clayton LEWIS
Unused substitutes: 40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 8. Ben OLD, 13. Nicholas PENNINGTON

Brisbane Roar: 1. Macklin FREKE (gk), 2. Scott NEVILLE (4. Anton MLINARIC 78th), 3. Corey BROWN, 7. Rahmat AKBARI, 8. Matti STEINMANN (15. Jesse DALEY 73rd), 10. Nikola MILEUSNIC (21. Nicholas OLSEN 46th), 13. Henry HORE, 19. Jack HINGERT (35. Louis ZABALA 73rd), 23. Juan LESCANO (29. Cyrus DEHMIE 64th), 26. Jay O’SHEA (c), 27. Kai TREWIN
Unused substitutes: 12. Jordan HOLMES (gk), 9. Luke IVANOVIC

4. Scott WOOTTON (Wellington Phoenix) – 33rd
7. Gael SANDOVAL (Wellington Phoenix) – 63rd
10. Reno PISCOPO (Wellington Phoenix) – 67th

2. Scott NEVILLE (Brisbane Roar) – yellow – 77th43. Oskar VAN HATTUM (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 87th