The Wellington Phoenix have earned a point with a 1-1 draw against Western United tonight, in a hard-fought battle that showcased a pair of young talents in Ben Waine and Lachlan Wales as well as paying tribute to a seasoned veteran – Western United’s Andrew Durante celebrating his 350th A-League match.
After Waine put the visitors up early in the first half, Wales would equalise twenty minutes later for Western United; the home team able to hold off the Phoenix for the remaining 60 minutes to secure the draw, despite Ulises Davila and Tomer Hemed applying late pressure on the opposition goal.
Wellington remained with the same Starting XI for this match which had been successful against Perth in the previous round; Hemed added to the bench in his return from injury. In turn, Western United coach Mark Rudan elected to bring Wales into his starting XI and to bench leading scorer Besart Berisha.
Here’s the key moments from this match:
7’ – GOAL: The Waine Train arrives early (1-0)
After Ulises Davila delivers a clever cross into a waiting Ben Waine inside the box, the 19-year-old slots home a relatively easy goal into the bottom left corner of the net. This is Waine’s fifth goal of the season – and his third in his past three games – with Davila picking up his team-leading fifth assist.
27’ – GOAL: Wales with the equaliser (1-1)
Connor Pain gets off a pass to Lachlan Wales outside the box, the latter firing in a difficult shot between a pair of Phoenix defenders and an outstretched Oli Sail and into the back of the net – giving Wales three goals in his last three matches played.
41’ – Davila with the opportunity
After Davila is taken down by Durante in the attacking half – one of 13 fouls by the home team in the first half, with the Western United defender earning a yellow in the process – Davila lines up a free kick which is close but misses to the left.
45+2’ Hamill earns his second yellow
Following an aerial challenge between Waine and Western United’s Brendan Hamill, the latter is issued his second yellow card of the half and sent off the field, leaving the home side down to 10 men for the remainder of the match.
Half Time – Wellington Phoenix 1, Western United 1
The first half sees the score deadlocked at one apiece thanks to Waine and Wales; both goals the only shots on target with Western United attempting five shots versus Wellington’s three. The Wellington Phoenix look to be the more dominant team in the half and now face a 10-man Western United squad in the second.
53’ – Lewis with the free kick
After Davila is again taken down in the attacking half – Western United making an obvious effort to foul the Mexican attacker whenever he has possession – Clayton Lewis takes the free kick; a powerful attempt that goes wide of goal.
56’ – Hemed gets off the header
Minutes after subbing in, Tomer Hemed takes a cross from Louis Fenton and attempts a header from the right side of the box; his shot too high but the attempt putting strong pressure on Western United’s goal.
89’ – Davila denied by the woodwork
Davila takes a pass from Waine outside the box, his left-footed shot crashing against the left post – Wellington’s best chance of the second half as the Phoenix continues to relentlessly attack Western United inside their box.
90+3’ – Hemed’s last-gasp attempt
Wellington’s final opportunity to pull out a win comes courtesy of a Phoenix corner, with Clayton Lewis delivering a cross to Hemed – whose header from the centre of the box is close but misses to the left.
Full Time – Wellington Phoenix 1, Western United 1
Both teams settle for a point in this match – the draw keeping both clubs in their respective positions on the A-League ladder; Western United in eight and Wellington in ninth.
Following the match, Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay rued the Phoenix’s chance to pick up the full three points and improve their position on the ladder.
“It’s a big opportunity missed for us tonight – the first half we played some good football, the second half was not good enough,” said Talay.
“We’ve got another against Adelaide in a couple of days which we’ll have to have a look at some of the players and how they pull up, but the end result was disappointing – coming away with the draw – especially in the second half playing against 10 men.”
Despite the loss, coach Talay believes the Phoenix are still firmly in the hunt for a top six finish.
“I still think there’s enough games and I still think there’s enough points; we’ll continue and we’ve got a very big game back in Wollongong against Adelaide [on Sunday}, so we just need to prepare for that and hopefully get the best outcome there.”
The Phoenix now return home to Wollongong for an ANZAC Day match against Adelaide United on Sunday 25 April; the Nix paying tribute to those who fought in Gallipoli with a special pre-match ceremony.
Wellington Phoenix squad: 6.Tim PAYNE, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO, 16.Louis FENTON, 18.Ben WAINE, 19.Sam SUTTON, 20.Oliver SAIL (gk), 23.Clayton LEWIS, 27.Steven TAYLOR
Western United FC squad: 3.Brendan HAMILL, 4 Andrew DURANTE, 5.Dylan PIERIAS, 6.Tomoki IMAI, 8. Lachlan WALES, 11.Connor PAIN, 19. Joshua RISDON, 20.Víctor SÁNCHEZ, 22.Tomislav USKOK 23.Alessandro DIAMANTI (c), 30.Ryan SCOTT (gk)
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
64’ ON 5.James MCGARRY OFF 19.Sam SUTTON
68’ ON 17.Tomer HEMED OFF 11.Jaushua SOTIRIO
80’ ON 13.Charles LOKOLI-NGOY OFF 9.David BALL
Western United Substitutions
77’ ON 7.Besart BERISHA OFF 23.Alessandro DIAMANTI
87’ ON 34.Iker GUARROTXENA OFF 5.Dylan PIERIAS
7’ Ben WAINE (Wellington Phoenix)
27’ Lachlan WALES (Western United)
Next Match details
Match Week 18: Wellington Phoenix versus Adelaide United, WIN Stadium in Wollongong, Sunday 25 April 2021, kick-off at 4.05pm AEDT (6.05pm NZ time)