The Wellington Phoenix have earned a 3-2 win at home against Western United FC last night, coming from behind the pick up their third victory at WIN Stadium this season – while moving the Nix up to 9th place on the A-League ladder.
After Western United opened up the scoring on a penalty goal by Besart Berisha, Wellington equalised just before the half on a penalty of their own courtesy of Ulises Davila. A pair of goals early in the second half would keep things square for both sides, before Ben Waine provided a dramatic late winner to give the Phoenix a much deserved win.
With the Phoenix already missing four members of its squad due to injury, they were dealt a further blow with star striker, Tomer Hemed, a late scratch due to injury – Waine coming on in his place. Coach Ufuk Talay also made two more changes to the starting 11, promoting Sam Sutton and Cameron Devlin over James McGarry and Alex Rufer respectively, in an attempt to shake things up for the Nix.
Meanwhile Western United was missing a key player of their own in Alessandro Diamanti, but had new signing Bradden Inman on the bench as a late addition to their match day squad.
Here’s the key moments from this match:
11’ Opportunity for the Nix
Lachlan Wales goes down after an accidental head clash with Josh Laws during an aerial challenge, reducing the visitors to 10 men while he received treatment on the sideline. The Nix took advantage of this a minute later, with a strong strike from Davila at centre of box with his left foot, which was collected by Western United’s keeper Ryan Scott.
18’ Western United has a crack
Western United’s first attempt on goal is courtesy of the always-dangerous Dylan Pierias, whose left-footed shot from outside the box – coming off a cross from Connor Pain – is blocked by the Nix defence inside.
31’ Penalty for Berisha (0-1)
After a superb pass by Pierias into Wales in the Nix box, the latter is taken down by a Wellington defender; Besart Berisha slotting home the subsequent penalty to register his seventh goal of the season for Western United, putting the visitors ahead at the 31 minute mark.
45+1’ – Penalty equaliser for Davila (1-1)
After a Waine attempt on goal from the centre of the box is blocked, a subsequent corner for the Phoenix saw Western United defender Andrew Durante called for a handball in the penalty area. Davila lined up the penalty attempt – his second of the season – powering home his attempt to square the match up at one apiece.
Davila’s goal, his seventh of the season and 19th overall for the Phoenix, also moved him into 6th place on the Nix all-time scoring list in the process.
Half Time – Wellington Phoenix 1, Western United 1
Half time saw both teams tied at one apiece thanks to a pair of penalties, with another strong first-half defensive performance from Josh Laws and solid contributions from Davila (3 shots on goal, all on target), David Ball (7 duels won) and Devlin – all standout performers for the Nix on the offensive end.
As a team, the Nix had double the number of goal attempts to Western United (6 vs 3), with the visitors holding a slight advantage in possession – but guilty of turning the ball over on numerous occasions.
48’ – Nix pile on the pressure
The Phoenix opened up the second half in strong fashion, beginning with a goal attempt by Ball which was off the mark, followed by a cross by Clayton Lewis which found Waine close to goal; his header blocked by the leg of a Western United defender.
A subsequent long-range strike by Davila was also off target, sending keeper Scott crashing into his goalpost in the process.
53’ – Sotirio puts Wellington up front (2-1)
After Davila receives a well-placed pass to the top of the box from Sutton, the Nix captain delivers an excellent shot on goal; the ball deflecting off a well-positioned Sotirio to give the latter his second goal of the season – Davila picking up his third assist as well.
56’ – Guarrotxena scores on the clean-up (2-2)
Only a few minutes later, Durante received a pass inside the box and attempted a turnaround strike that hit the crossbar, a scramble of the loose ball seeing Western United’s Iker Guarrotxena delivering a strong header into the Nix goal; his second of the season.
79’ Davila with the chance
Spurred on by a solid run of play for the Phoenix, Davila takes a pass from Devlin and attempts a long-range shot that goes wide of goal past a flailing Scott; Wellington threatening to break the deadlock against their rivals.
84’ Waine and Ball attempts
Waine takes a perfect layoff pass from Sotirio, but misses his shot attempt from the centre of the box. Less than a minute later, Ball attempts a strike from the opposite side of goal but is also off target; the Nix unable to take advantage of their building momentum over the last 20 minutes of play.
90’ – All aboard the Waine Train! (3-2)
Sutton delivers an expert pass from the left side into a waiting Waine – his former Phoenix Academy teammate – in the box, with Waine directing his header into the Western United goal.
The goal withstood a VAR check, giving the 19-year old forward his third goal of the season – and Sutton’s first assist – to put the Phoenix ahead late. It is also only the second header scored by the Phoenix this season.
Full Time – Wellington Phoenix 3, Western United 2
Wellington used a dominant second half – along with a fairytale ending by Sutton and Waine in their first A-League start together – to deliver a statement win for the Phoenix, as well as their third victory in a row over rivals Western United.
Following the match, Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay would have praise for Waine and Sutton’s contributions.
“I thought Sutts [Sam Sutton] for his first start did a fantastic job as a left back, he’s not a natural left back but we’ve worked with him all pre-season to get him used to playing in that position – he did a great job and it was also great for Waino [Ben Waine] to score the winner,” said Talay.
“Sutts has been working well with us since pre-season, and I just felt we needed a change there – we gave him an opportunity and I’m pleased for him coming in and doing a good job; he gave us something different.”
Talay says that this win continues the club’s top six hopes with 10 matches left to play – and a potential 30 points still up for grabs.
“Hopefully this win can bring us momentum, we’ve been a little bit up and down this season, a lot of inconsistency due to injury – so hopefully we can maintain our starting 11 and build that consistency.
“This group [of players] has been through a lot, with last season due to Covid and where they’re at now, but they’re a good, solid group, they want to achieve things and they want success – so motivating these players is quite easy.”
The Phoenix head away to Perth for their next match, taking on the Perth Glory – a team they handily beat 3-0 earlier in the season – at HBF Park on Sunday 18 April. Following this they will travel to Tasmania for the first time ever, in a re-match with Western United FC that will be a must-watch game.
Wellington Phoenix squad: 6.Tim PAYNE, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 16.Louis FENTON, 18.Ben WAINE, 19.Sam SUTTON, 20.Oliver SAIL (gk), 21.Joshua LAWS 23.Clayton LEWIS
Western United FC squad: 4 Andrew DURANTE, 5.Dylan PIERIAS, 6.Tomoki IMAI, 7.Besart BERISHA, 8.Lachlan WALES, 11.Connor PAIN, 20.Víctor SÁNCHEZ, 22.Tomislav USKOK, 25.Luke DUZEL, 30.Ryan SCOTT (GK), 34.Iker GUARROTXENA
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
90+3’ ON 27.Steven TAYLOR OFF 18.Ben WAINE
Western United FC Substitutions
21’ ON 3.Brendan HAMILL OFF 8.Lachlan WALES
63’ ON 10.Steven LUSTICA OFF 20.Víctor SÁNCHEZ
82’ ON 9.Kaine SHEPPARD OFF 7.Besart BERISHA
82’ ON 17.Bradden INMAN OFF 25.Luke DUZEL
82’ ON 21.Sebastian PASQUALI OFF 34.Iker GUARROTXENA
32’ Besart BERISHA (Penalty) (Western United)
45+1’ Ulises DAVILA (Penalty) (Wellington Phoenix)
53’ Jaushua SOTIRIO (Wellington Phoenix)
56’ 34.Iker GUARROTXENA (Western United)
90’ 18.Ben WAINE (Wellington Phoenix)
Next Match details
Match Week 17: Wellington Phoenix versus Perth Glory, HBF Park, Perth, Sunday 18 April 2021, kick-off at 8. 15pm AEDT (10.15pm NZ time)