Men’s Match Review: Wellington Phoenix vs. Macarthur FC

The Wellington Phoenix have jumped up five places to seventh on the Isuzu UTE A-League ladder after recording their third win of the season.

The Phoenix have beaten Macarthur FC 3-1 at Campbelltown Stadium in Sydney, courtesy of two second-half goals from Jaushua Sotirio.

Reno Piscopo gave the Nix a 1-0 halftime lead from the penalty spot before former Wellington playmaker Ulises Dávila equalised for Macarthur early in the second-half.

Sotirio clinically scored his two goals after missing a couple of gilt-edged opportunities in the first-half.

“I think Jaushy could have scored a couple more goals in the first half. We could have [been] two or three nil up and killed the game after 45 minutes,” Phoenix head coach Ufuk Talay told media post-game,

“But as we like it we always do it the hard way. We let them in the game with an error that we made but I think performance-wise the boys were fantastic today.”

Talay hailed Sotirio’s resilience to bounce back from his first-half disappointment.

“You need character in this game, you need thick skin and for me at the same time the positive sign is he’s in those right areas and the more he gets in there the more opportunity he’s got to score.

“He was a little bit upset [at halftime], he was a little bit down but for me that’s normal. He’s got in the right areas and hasn’t capitalised on it.

“But the main thing is we keep it positive in the changing room and he keeps going again and he rewarded himself by being positive in the second-half.”

Ufuk Talay made four changes to the XI which started last week’s FFA Cup semi-final. Fit-again vice-captain Oli Sail replaced Alex Paulsen in goal, All Whites Tim Payne and Clayton Lewis returned from international duty in place of Louis Fenton and Nicholas Pennington and Sotirio came in for Gary Hooper, who missed the match with a tight hamstring.

Sail was called into action almost immediately from the kick-off. He was quick off his line to beat Macarthur striker Apostolos Giannou to a dangerous through ball.

Dávila was next to test out his former team-mate, shooting straight into Sail’s arms twice in the matter of minutes.

Wellington left back Sam Sutton produced a couple of important touches at both ends of the pitch in the 10th minute to give the Phoenix their first goalscoring opportunity.

Sutton snuffed out a dangerous Macarthur attack in the Nix box and then raced down the other end of the pitch and drew in a foul from Craig Noone to earn Wellington a penalty.

Piscopo took ownership from the spot in and managed to beat Filip Kurto to put the Phoenix in front.

Sotirio had three opportunities in four minutes to add to Wellington’s lead inside the first half hour.

Sotirio passed the ball into the back of the Macarthur net in the 27th minute after following up a Piscopo shot, but the goal was ruled out as he was deemed to be offside.

Moments later Sotirio was one-on-one with Kurto but was unable to hit the target, spraying his shot well wide as he came under pressure from Macarthur defender Aleksandar Susnjar.

He had another great chance in the 30th minute, when he headed over from inside the six-yard box after a pinpoint cross from the impressive Sutton.

Macarthur finished the half the stronger of the two sides, but Sail ensured the Phoenix led at the break. He produced two fine saves in quick succession in the 36th minute to deny Macarthur an equaliser.

Jaushua Sotirio continued to get into great positions in the second half and he was unlucky to not double the Phoenix’s lead in the 51st minute, when he struck the post with a wonderfully struck volley from distance.

Instead it was Macarthur FC who scored next, with Dávila equalising in the 58th minute after Daniel DeSilva pounced on a Phoenix mistake and picked out the Mexican playmaker, who beat Sail from the penalty spot.

Wellington’s ‘keeper was largely unemployed for the next half an hour as the Nix took charge of the game in a bid to reclaim their lead.

Captain Alex Rufer shot narrowly wide of goal with a left-footed shot from distance in the 62nd minute and shortly after Kurto was called into action to deny Piscopo from close-range.

But Macarthur’s ‘keeper was unable to keep out Sotirio in the 72nd minute. The pacy forward pounced on a loose ball, raced forward and then squeezed a shot past the Polish shot-stopper.

Sotirio sealed the three points for the Phoenix 12 minutes from fulltime when he chipped Kurto from just inside the Macarthur area after getting on the end of a raking diagonal ball from Sutton.

Oli Sail produced a great save in the 88th minute to deny substitute Jake Hollman and ensure Macarthur weren’t allowed back into the contest.

The Wellington Phoenix will have little time to celebrate the result as they are back in action on Wednesday night against newly crowned FFA Cup champions Melbourne Victory at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.

Wellington Phoenix: 
20. Oli SAIL (gk), 6. Tim PAYNE, 7. Gael SANDOVAL (8. Ben OLD 89th), 9. David BALL (18. Ben WAINE 90+3), 10. Reno PISCOPO, 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO (43. Oskar VAN HATTUM 89th), 14. Alex RUFER (c) (13. Nicholas PENNINGTON 90th), 19. Sam SUTTON, 21. Joshua LAWS, 23. Clayton LEWIS, 33. Finn SURMAN (16. Louis FENTON 67th)
Unused substitutes: 40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 32. George OTT

Macarthur FC: 12. Filip KURTO (gk), 6. Aleksandar JOVANOVIC (23. Adrian MARIAPPA 46th), 7. Daniel DESILVA, 10. Ulises DAVILA (c) (21. Jake HOLLMAN 65th), 14. Moudi NAJJAR, 15. Aleksandar SUSNJAR, 17. Craig NOONE (11. Tommy OAR 77th), 20. Tomislav USKOK, 24. Kokola M’MOMBWA (8. Jordan MUTCH 46th), 31. Lachlan ROSE, 99. Apostolos GIANNOU (35. Al Hassan TOURE 65th)
Unused substitutes: 1. Nicholas Surman (gk), 4. James MEREDITH

10. Reno PISCOPO (Wellington Phoenix) – 12th pen
10. Ulises DAVILA (Macarthur FC) – 58th
11. Jaushua SOTIRIO (Wellington Phoenix) – 72nd
11. Jaushua SOTIRIO (Wellington Phoenix) – 78th

31. Lachlan ROSE (Macarthur FC) – yellow – 50th
8. Jordan MUTCH (Macarthur FC) – yellow – 61st
14. Moudi NAJJAR (Macarthur FC) – yellow – 73rd
19. Sam SUTTON (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 90+3