The Wellington Phoenix have fallen 2-0 to the Melbourne Victory at AAMI Park last night, conceding a pair of headers from Rudy Gestede in a feisty and unpredictable match.
With David Ball out due to suspension and Luke DeVere, Tomer Hemed, and Jaushua Sotirio sitting because of injury, the Phoenix would roll out a similar line-up to the one utilised against the Wanderers the match before; the only exception being Cameron Devlin coming in for Clayton Lewis.
The match began with both teams content to feel each other out – the only happening of note being a forced change at the five minute mark for Melbourne; an injury to Dylan Ryan meaning his night was over.
Gestede would be the first to make an attempt on goal; his header effort well saved by Nix goalkeeper Oli Sail. As both teams traded possession in the first 15 minutes, Melbourne would have several chances on goal but nothing close to converting. The Phoenix’s own first shot on goal would be from a free kick after Davila was fouled on the right wing; his long-range attempt would go high.
After Reno Piscopo had his shot attempt blocked by the Victory defense, it became evident another forced substitution would be required for Melbourne; Marco Rojas leaving at the 24 minute mark thanks to an injury he suffered earlier in the match.
Melbourne would come alive on the pitch following Rojas’ exit – a volley of attempts, seven in a row to be exact from Gestede, Jacob Brimmer and Callum McManaman – against the Phoenix defense that the visitors did well to defend against; Phoenix defenders registering a pair of blocks and Sail making two catches during this sequence.
The Phoenix would counter with an attempt from Piscopo which again was blocked, and the first half looked destined to be a scoreless affair – until Gestede’s strike during injury time put Victory up 1-0 at half-time, his header coming thanks to a cross from Brimmer off a set piece situation.
Melbourne would continue their attack in the second half, with an early attempt by McManaman again blocked by Sail. But Gestede would strike again at the 49 minute mark to put Melbourne up 2-0, and in eerily similar circumstances to his first goal – another header, assisted by Brimmer off of a cross from the corner.
Retaliatory attempts from Alex Rufer and Piscopo would fail to find the mark, the first sailing high and the latter being caught by Victory goalkeeper Max Crocombe. Melbourne would continue to pile on the pressure, with a pair of Brimmer goal attempts both saved by Sail at the other end.
After the match, Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay would offer an assessment of the match and his team’s performance.
“We played some good football, we got ourselves into good areas – we had 18 shots on goals but only one on target, and that’s where you get the result from,” says Talay.
We get into good areas and we don’t capitalise on those opportunities, and on the other side of things we concede two goals from set pieces – is it a focus thing? I’m not sure.”
“If there was an award for getting into the final third and not finishing, I think we’d win it.”
The Phoenix now turn their focus to their next match against the Newcastle Jets, on Sunday 28 February at McDonald Jones stadium; the Nix will be buoyed by the return of Ball from suspension for this match, and will hope that Hemed will also be able to play – giving Wellington two much-needed attacking options to help Davila up front.
Wellington Phoenix squad: 2.Liam McGING, 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE, 7.Reno PISCOPO, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 10.Ulises DAVILA, 14.Alex RUFER, 15.Mirza MURATOVIC, 16.Louis FENTON, 18.Ben WAINE, 20.Oliver SAIL
Melbourne Victory squad: 5.Ryan SHOTTON, 6.Leigh BROXHAM (c), 7.Callum McMANAMAN, 9.Rudy GESTEDE, 10.Robbie KRUSE, 13.Birkan KIRDAR, 19.Dylan RYAN, 20.Max CROCOMBE (gk), 22.Jacob BRIMMER, 23.Marco ROJAS, 33.Dalibor MARKOVIC
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
50’ ON 23.Clayton LEWIS OFF 15.Mirza MURATOVIC
75’ ON 13.Charles LOKOLI-NGOY OFF 7.Reno PISCOPO
Melbourne Victory Substitutions
5’ ON 15.Aaron ANDERSON OFF 19.Dylan RYAN
24’ ON 8.Jacob BUTTERFIELD OFF 23.Marco ROJAS
45’ ON 35.Zaydan BELLO OFF 5.Ryan SHOTTON
73’ ON 14.Jay BARNETT OFF 7.Callum McMANAMAN
73’ ON 25.Luis LAWRIE-LATTANZIO OFF 9.Rudy GESTEDE
45’+3 Rudy GESTEDE (Melbourne Victory)
49’ Rudy GESTEDE (Melbourne Victory)
Next Match details
Match Week 10: Wellington Phoenix versus Newcastle Jets, McDonald Jones Stadium in Newcastle, 28 Feb 2021, kick-off at 6.10pm AEDT (8.10pm NZ time)