The Wellington Phoenix have fallen 2-1 to Sydney FC tonight despite dominating large stretches of the match, with kiwi-born Kosta Barbarouse’s brace making him the hero for Sydney and Nix captain Ulises Davila netting his third goal of the season for the Nix.
Phoenix Coach Ufuk Talay would elect to remain with the same starting line-up that tasted success in the previous match; that squad earning a 2-1 win over the Central Coast Mariners. The Nix bench would include Reno Piscopo for the first time this season, and speedster Jaushua Sotirio sitting out with a knee injury.
The Phoenix would be on attack from the opening minute, with Clayton Lewis having a crack on goal but being denied by Sydney’s Andrew Redmayne; David Ball’s subsequent attempt from inside the box also stymied by the veteran goalkeeper.
Wellington would have four shots (two on target) in the first five minutes versus none from Sydney as they dominated possession in the early going; Sydney’s swarming defense doing everything it could to prevent the Nix from scoring early.
But Sydney would be first to score, with Barbarouses taking an excellent pass from Alex Baumjohann to score his second goal of the season, putting Sydney up 1-0 at the 32 minute mark.
Wellington would attempt to equalise thanks to goal attempts from Lewis and Hemed, but both would be off target; the Nix’s biggest concern the forced substitution of midfielder Cameron Devlin due to injury just before half time.
The first half would end with Sydney FC up 1-0, despite the Nix dominating possession and with eight goal attempts to Sydney’s four; strong defence evident from both sides throughout the half.
The second half would see the welcome of Piscopo to the field for the first time this season, but the early highlight would be Davila’s goal attempt a few minutes into the half; his powerful strike unlucky to hit the crossbar.
Barbarouses would strike again at the 64 minute mark; his goal from just inside the box – past an outstretched Stefan Marinovic – putting his side up 2-0.
An injury to Chris Zuvela at the 86 minute mark would reduce Sydney FC to 10 men, and the Nix would take advantage to strike back in extra time – Dávila’s goal attempt from well outside the box giving him his third goal of the season, and Piscopo picking up the assist.
A last gasp attempt from Louis Fenton – a header off of a set piece – would again hit the crossbar, and the Sydney FC would hold on to take a hard-fought 2-1 victory over the visiting Phoenix.
Following the match, Coach Ufuk Talay would call it a frustrating night – in part due to the number of opportunities the Phoenix had which couldn’t be converted.
“We create chances, we don’t reward ourselves for the effort we put in and the opportunities we create,” said Talay.
“The first 15-20 minutes we played some really good football, created good opportunities and this game is about being clinical in front of goal – as it’s always a very tight game against Sydney FC.
Talay had praise for his captain’s effort despite the loss.
“Ulises (Davila) had a good game tonight and created some good opportunities; we hit the post two times in the game as well – but we need other players to step up too, they’re in the right areas but they just need to put the ball in the back of the net.
“It’s going to come to one of those games when we all do click and they are clinical, and it might be a big score line.”
The Phoenix now have six days to regroup as they prepare for their next match at home, a re-match with Central Coast Mariners at WIN Stadium on Sunday 14 February.
Wellington Phoenix Starting XI
1.Stefan MARINOVIC (gk), 3.Luke DEVERE, 5.James MCGARRY, 6.Tim PAYNE, 8.Cameron DEVLIN, 9.David BALL, 10.Ulises DAVILA(c), 14.Alex RUFER, 17.Tomer HEMED, 21.Joshua LAWS, 23.Clayton Lewis
Sydney FC Starting XI
1.Andrew REDMAYNE (gk), 4.Alex WILKINSON (c), 5.Alex BAUMJOHANN, 6.Ryan McGOWAN, 10.Milos NINKOVIC, 11.Kosta BARBAROUSES, 16.Joel KING, 23.Rhyan GRANT, 26.Luke BRATTAN, 28.Calem NIEUWENHOF, 33.Pat WOOD
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
43’ ON 12.Matt RIDENTON OFF 8.Cameron DEVLIN
45’ ON 7.Reno PISCOPO OFF 17.Tomer HEMED
60’ ON 15.Mirza MURATOVIC OFF 23.Clayton LEWIS
81’ ON 16.Louis FENTON OFF 5.James MCGARRY
Sydney FC Substitutions
59’ ON 27.Jordan SWIBEL OFF 33.Pat WOOD
63’ ON 8.Paulo RETRE OFF 28.Calem NIEUWENHOF
81’ ON 19.Chris ZUVELA OFF 10.Milos NINKOVIC
81’ ON 17.Anthony CACERES OFF 5.Alex BAUMJOHANN
32’ Kosta BARBAROUSES (Sydney FC)
64’ Kosta BARBAROUSES (Sydney FC)
90+3 Ulises DAVILA (Wellington Phoenix)
Wellington Phoenix versus Central Coast Mariners, WIN Stadium in Wollongong on Sun 14 Feb 2021, kick-off at 4.05pm AEDT (6.05pm NZ time)