Men’s Match Review: Wellington Phoenix vs. Newcastle Jets

David Ball has ensured the Wellington Phoenix have returned to the Isuzu UTE A-League with a win.

The English forward has scored an 88th minute goal to secure the Phoenix a 3-2 win over Newcastle Jets at Central Coast Stadium in Gosford.

The victory in Wellington’s first match in 18 days extends their unbeaten run to seven matches and lifts them to sixth on the A-League ladder.

The Nix led 2-1 at halftime courtesy of a stoppage time goal from new All White Ben Waine, after Jaushua Sotirio had put them in front from the spot in the 25th minute.

Phoenix head coach Ufuk Talay was pleased with how his side finished the match after two and half weeks without a competitive fixture.

“We conceded two goals that we’re pretty disappointed with, but scoring the winner late shows the character in the boys,” Talay told media post-game.

“It showed the first 10-15 minutes that we hadn’t played a game for a couple of weeks…but overall pleased to get the three points tonight.”

The Nix are now three points above Sydney FC and have games in hand over all of the other teams in the top six.

“We’re slowly, slowly going in the right direction,” Talay said.

“We’ll take it game by game. I don’t think we can look too far ahead, there’s still a lot of games to go.

“We’ve got a few catch-up games to make up as well, but games in hand don’t really mean anything unless you win those games.”

Ufuk Talay made just one enforced change to the XI which started their previous four A-League matches, with Waine replacing injured attacking midfielder Reno Piscopo.

The young forward was named to start up front alongside David Ball, with Jaushua Sotirio taking Piscopo’s place in midfield.

The Jets dominated possession in the first-half but had nothing to show for it in the opening 20 minutes, with the Phoenix looking dangerous on the counter-attack.

Rookie Newcastle ‘keeper Michael Weier had to be quick off his line in the 15th minute to prevent Sotirio getting on the end of a near inch-perfect ball from Alex Rufer and moments later Gael Sandoval floated a shot wide of the Jets’ goal at the end of a threatening Phoenix break.

Wellington ‘keeper Oli Sail wasn’t called into action until the 21st minute, when he had to make two smart saves in quick succession to deny both Oliver Boumal and Daniel Penha from long-range.

Sotirio gave the Nix the lead in the 25th minute when he sent Weier the wrong way from the penalty spot. He had earned the spot kick after being brought down in the Newcastle box by Jets captain Matt Jurman.

Wellington had a couple of opportunities to double their lead either side of the half hour mark with Clayton Lewis shooting straight at Weier from a free-kick before Sotirio redirected a Waine cross over Newcastle’s goal.

Penha brought the Jets level two minutes before halftime when he picked out the bottom left corner of Sail’s net. Referee Ben Abraham eventually awarded the goal after deeming that Boumal, who was offside, didn’t interfere in the play.

The Phoenix didn’t have to wait long to reclaim the lead with Waine curling a shot past Weier in the first minute of first half stoppage time after getting on the end of a well-weighted through ball from Sandoval.

The second half started in a similar fashion with the Nix threatening on in transition, but Weier snuffed out opportunities for Tim Payne and Sandoval in the first five minutes after halftime.

The Jets started to create more chances of their own from that moment onwards with Georgian forward Beka Mikeltadze blazing narrowly wide in the 57th minute before Angus Thurgate shot straight at Sail after a good spell of possession. Penha also forced a smart save from the Phoenix ‘keeper.

Boumal equalised for the Jets in the 64th minute, blasting a shot past Sail into the roof of the Wellington net. But like Newcastle’s first goal there was controversy. Lewis appeared to be fouled in the lead-up to the former Cameroon international’s strike but the referee ignored his and the team’s protestations.

There were few goalscoring opportunities for the next 25 minutes, with the Jets’ limited to shots from distance.

But then two minutes from fulltime Ball scored the match winner from six yards out, powerfully heading home an inviting cross from Sam Sutton.

Sail ensured the Phoenix secured all three points when he parried away a dangerous Mikeltadze free-kick in the second minute of time added on.

The Wellington Phoenix will endeavour to continue their unbeaten run on Saturday, when they travel to Redcliffe to face the bottom of the table Brisbane Roar.

Wellington Phoenix: 
20. Oli SAIL (gk), 4. Scott WOOTTON, 6. Tim PAYNE (16. Louis FENTON 89th), 7. Gael SANDOVAL, 9. David BALL (33. Finn SURMAN 90+3), 11. Jaushua SOTIRIO, 14. Alex RUFER (c) (13. Nicholas PENNINGTON 79th), 18. Ben WAINE (8. Ben OLD 79th), 19. Sam SUTTON, 21. Joshua LAWS, 23. Clayton LEWIS
Unused substitutes: 40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 17. Callan ELLIOT, 32. George OTT

Newcastle Jets: 20. Michael WEIER (gk), 3. Jason HOFFMAN, 4. Jordan ELSEY, 6. Matthew JURMAN (c), 8. Mario ARQUES (7. Jordan O’DOHERTY 65th), 9. Beka MIKELTADZE, 10. Oliver BOUMAL (17. Valentino YUEL 74th), 11. Daniel PENHA (23. Eli BABALJ 87th), 15. Dylan MURNANE (2. Dane INGHAM 87th), 21. Savvas SIATRAVANIS (25. Samuel SILVERA 74th), 32. Angus THURGATE
Unused substitutes: 40. Jack KENNY (gk), 14. Mohamed AL-TAAY

11. Jaushua SOTIRIO (Wellington Phoenix) – 25th
11. Daniel PENHA (Newcastle Jets) – 43rd
18. Ben WAINE (Wellington Phoenix) – 45+1
10. Oliver BOUMAL (Newcastle Jets) – 64th
9. David BALL (Wellington Phoenix) – 88th

21. Joshua LAWS (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 5th
6. Matthew JURMAN (Newcastle Jets) – yellow – 23rd
21. Savvas SIATRAVANIS (Newcastle Jets) – yellow – 41st
Ufuk Talay (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 64th
7. Jordan O’DOHERTY (Newcastle Jets) – yellow – 76th
15. Dylan MURNANE (Newcastle Jets) – yellow – 83rd
19. Sam SUTTON (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow 90+3