Wellington Phoenix blew Newcastle Jets away in front of a packed Westpac Stadium on Saturday night as they drive towards securing a home playoff final in Wellington.
Mark Rudan chose a youthful squad with Benjamin Waine, Callan Elliot and Gianni Stensness occupying the bench, bringing a total of five under 21 players into the squad, along with starters Liberato Cacace and Sarpreet Singh.
And it took only 30 seconds for Wellington Phoenix to continue their rich scoring form as David Williams poked beyond Glen Moss in the Newcastle goal to shock Ernie Merrick’s side.
Despite going down a goal, Jets kept the ball well but were unable to take advantage in the final third after failing to break down the defensive solidity of Andrew Durante, Ryan Lowry and Antony Golec.
Filip Kurto, an ever-present in the defensive leadership, kept the Jets at bay in the first half to keep the lead for his side. After punching away from a dangerous set piece, Kurto was able to pressure Lachlan Jackson from six-yards out after the defender failed to head his effort on target.
Before half time, the home side suffered a blow as the reliable full-back Louis Fenton, went down with a suspected fractured foot after a late challenge on the Tawa born defender.
The first half ended with Mark Rudan’s side taking the slender, but well deserved, 1-0 lead.
Into the second half and Jets came out on the offensive, just as they finished the first. Kurto was required to make a quick reaction save to deny a deflection off his own teammate, Golec, before Nigel Boogaard hit his effort wide of the post.
Moments later and Wellington Phoenix were awarded a penalty after consultation with the VAR. A free kick was given shortly before the decision was changed to a penalty after the initial tackle on Williams was found to be inside the penalty box. Williams stepped up and slotted his effort beyond Moss to double the lead.
Newcastle reacted immediately through forward, Roy O’Donovan, who finished from a set piece but the two-goal deficit was regained as Williams produced a world-class effort from outside the 18-yard box. The goal secured a hat trick for the lively forward and destroyed any hopes of a comeback for the Jets.
Dynamic midfielder, Sarpeet Singh, also got on the scoresheet as Wellington Phoenix topped off a great night. Singh, drove forward and released a perfectly weighted effort beyond Moss to bring the scoreline to 4-1.
Deep into extra time and Rudan brought on Academy prospect, Benjamin Waine, who came on to mark his debut in the Hyundai A-League. Waine almost got on the scoresheet himself, but Moss smothered the ball before the youngster could poke it home.
The scoreline remained 4-1 as Rudan’s side cemented themselves in the top four.
Full match highlights here.
— Wellington Phoenix (@WgtnPhoenixFC) March 30, 2019
1. Filip KURTO, 4. Mandi SOSA, 5. Ryan LOWRY, 11. David WILLIAMS, 12. Antony GOLEC, 13. Liberato CACACE,14. Alex RUFER, 16. Louis FENTON, 18. Sarpreet SINGH, 22. Andrew DURANTE, 23. Max Burgess
Wellington Phoenix Substitutes
45+3’ OFF 16. Louis FENTON ON 17. Callan ELLIOT
82’ OFF 23. Max BURGESS ON 7. Cillian SHERIDAN
90’ OFF 11. David WILLIAMS ON 31. Ben WAINE
Newcastle Jets Substitutions
55’ OFF 17. Daniel GEORGIESVSKI ON 24. Joseph CHAMPNESS
71’ OFF 5. Benjamin KANTAROVSKI ON 16. Nicholas COWBURN
74’ OFF 4. Nigel BOGARD ON 14. Kaine SHEPPARD
Next Match details
Adelaide United vs. Wellington Phoenix, Sunday 7th April 2019, Coopers Stadium, Adelaide, 7:00pm NZT