The Wellington Phoenix have claimed a 1-all draw tonight at McDonald Jones Stadium, earning a point in a physical match which – again – featured controversary over a late VAR decision for the Nix.
The Phoenix dominated the goal attempts in the first half with Tomer Hemed scoring first to put Wellington up at the half; Brisbane equalising late in the second half before the Nix were denied a penalty in extra time on an apparent handball by a Roar player.
Coming into this match, Wellington saw two changes to their starting 11 from the last round, with Tomer Hemed coming in for Ben Waine and Louis Fenton returning from injury; the latter allowing Alex Rufer to return to his natural midfield position.
Phoenix would control the match early, applying plenty of pressure in the wet conditions; an early Davila attempt blocked by the Roar defence and a Reno Piscopo strike caught by Brisbane goalkeeper Jamie Young.
Another Nix chance a minute later saw David Ball on the counter-attack, but he couldn’t connect with Piscopo close to the box. Despite the early misses, Wellington looked sharp early and constantly found themselves in the right areas to score.
By comparison, Brisbane’s game plan was to be overly physical against their opponents, with Piscopo and Ball suffering multiple fouls early and Brisbane earning a pair of yellow cards thanks to their aggression. Both Ulises Davila – one of the most fouled players in the A-League – and Piscopo looked to be targeted by the over-eager Roar players throughout the first half.
It wouldn’t deter either player from attacking with confidence, with both players leaving a clear imprint on the match in the first half – Piscopo in particular with his goal attempt at 26 minutes which hit the woodwork past an outstretched Young; Ball’s follow-up attempt hitting the back of the net but ruled a handball.
The Phoenix’s determination would pay off at the 42 minute mark thanks to Hemed’s presence of mind around the goal; the Israeli forward taking advantage of a defensive error by Tom Aldred to spike home a goal from the centre of the box that put Wellington up 1-0. Hemed continues to showcase his ability as a top-shelf striker with his second goal in two matches and his first from open play.
The Phoenix would go into the break up 1-0, with Wellington spending ample time in the opposition half but unable to convert their chances on goal. The stats would tell the story of the first half; Nix dominating with 13 goal attempts (three on target, all outside of the box) to Brisbane’s five (none on target) and the Roar struggling with discipline – conceding a lopsided 11 fouls (four to Piscopo) and a pair of yellows, versus a single foul conceded by Wellington.
The second half saw Brisbane dial up the pressure in an attempt to equalise. Dylan Wenzel-Halls had a chance at 50 minutes but his attempt caught cleanly by Sail and the two teams would trade shots over the next 20 minutes – attempts by Wenzell-Halls, Joe Champness and Riku Danzaki all off target and a pair of strikes of Jaushua Sotirio bookending a Davila attempt that was caught by Young.
Brisbane continued their relentless Brisbane attack against the Phoenix defence, forcing the Nix to defend multiples corners in a row – Tim Payne and Liam McGing both doing an outstanding job in this regard.
The equaliser came at the 86 minute mark with Golgol Mebrahtu taking a pass from Macauley Gillesphey and sinking a close-range header; his first this season – in fact his first A-League goal in over eight years – to tie the match at one apiece.
A second yellow to Gillesphey saw the Roar reduced to 10 men in the final minutes, giving the Phoenix a vital opportunity to reclaim the lead in extra time.
But when a clearance attempt from Aldred struck the arm of team-mate Danzaki inside the area, VAR was called in to assess – the video referee subsequently clearing the action, to the utter disbelief of Wellington players and coaching staff alike.
The match would end with both sides earning a 1-1 draw at full time, with Phoenix Coach Ufuk Talay expressing his disappointment afterwards.
“In the first half we played some really good football, second half I don’t think we were as good with the ball – we defended out box quite well but conceding a goal that late is disappointing and dropping two points is very disappointing,” said Talay.
“They changed their shape and I think he didn’t adapt well enough to them changing the way that they set up and I think that hurt us a bit.”
“At the end of the day we still get a point, and we’ve got two more games coming up very quickly so our goal was to get nine points out of these three games – but we’ve got another six points available in the next two games.”
The Phoenix face a quick turnaround for their next match, returning home to WIN Stadium to take on Melbourne Victory on 24 March – the Nix no doubt seeking revenge for their 2-0 loss against this team earlier in the season.
Wellington Phoenix squad: 2.Liam McGING, 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE, 7.Reno PISCOPO, , 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 14.Alex RUFER, 16.Louis FENTON, 17.Tomer HEMED, 20.Oliver SAIL, 23.Clayton LEWIS
Brisbane Roar FC squad: 3.Corey BROWN, 5.Tom ALDRED (c), 6.Macaulay GILLESPHEY, 9.Masato KUDO, 15.Jesse DALEY, 19.Jack HINGERT, 21.Jamie YOUNG (gk), 23.Dylan WENZEL-HALLS, 25.Rahmat AKBARI, 26.Jay O’SHEA, 27.Kai TREWIN
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
61’ ON 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO OFF 17.Tomer HEMED
79’ ON 8.Cameron DEVLIN OFF 7.Reno PISCOPO
79’ ON 18.Ben WAINE OFF 9.Ben WAINE
85’ ON 4.Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI OFF 10.Ulises DAVILA
Brisbane Roar FC Substitutions
53’ ON 10.Riku DANZAKI OFF 15.Jesse DALEY
53’ ON 11.Joe CHAMPNESS OFF 27.Kai TREWIN
72’ ON 37.Cyrus DEHMIE OFF 9.Masato KUDO
84’ ON 17.Golgol MEBRAHTU OFF 25.Rahmat AKBARI
42’ Tomer HEMED (Wellington Phoenix)
86’ Golgol MEBRAHTU (Brisbane Roar)
Next Match details
Match Week 13: Wellington Phoenix versus Melbourne Victory, WIN Stadium, 24 Mar 2021, kick-off at 7.05pm AEDT (9.05pm NZ time)