Women’s Match Review: Wellington Phoenix vs. Adelaide United

Grace Jale has scored her third goal in four games, but she has been unable to prevent the Wellington Phoenix falling to their 10th defeat of their maiden Liberty A-League season.

The Phoenix have been beaten 4-1 by Adelaide United in their rescheduled match at WIN Stadium in Wollongong, after an unfortunate own goal gave the Reds a 2-1 halftime lead.

The match kicked off 21 and a half hours later than originally scheduled, after lightning forced the game to be abandoned on Thursday night.

Jale equalised for the Nix with a classy first-time strike midway through the first-half but once Adelaide were gifted the lead in the 34th minute they took charge of the game and added a further two goals in a clinical five minute spell in the second half.

Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis told media post-game that “the own goal changed the game”.

“We were a bit of the makers of our own undoing really,” Lewis said. “When you put the ball in the back of your net like that after that their heads went down and they were a bit gutted.

“We talked at halftime and felt like they were already a bit defeated as soon as that goal went in.”

“I wasn’t too thrilled with the response because we’ve been in tough situations before.”

Wellington chased the game in the second-half and opened themselves up to the Reds’ counter-attack.

“We played a little bit high risk, we played a little bit more on the front foot, we sent out fullbacks forward, we wanted to get the goal back because we felt like we could be in the game.

“And then obviously Adelaide are super dangerous on the counter and we knew that but we wanted to risk that anyway because lose 2-1, 3-1, it’s a loss in my eyes.

“Adelaide were good in the counter and undid us when that happened, two goals off of us trying to push and chase the win put the game to bed to be honest.”

Gemma Lewis made two enforced changes to the XI which started the historic 3-0 win over Canberra United last Friday night. Brianna Edwards replaced club captain Lily Alfeld in goal and Te Reremoana Walker started at left centre back in place of injured vice-captain Kate Taylor.

It was Edwards’ starting debut, with left winger Charlotte Lancaster forced to sit on the bench as the back-up goalkeeper after Football Australia refused to grant the Phoenix dispensation to sign a short-term replacement for Alfeld.

Adelaide made a bright start and took the lead in just the sixth minute, when Reds winger Chelsie Dawber pounced on a loose ball in the Nix box and slotted a first-time shot past Edwards.

Wellington responded well to going behind and started winning possession inside Adelaide’s half.

Isabel Gomez and Alyssa Whinham both had shots from distance, but neither were able to test Adelaide ‘keeper Annalee Grove.

Ava Pritchard had the Nix’s best chance of the first 20 minutes when she won possession on the edge of the Adelaide area, played a one-two with Whinham and then blazed over the Adelaide goal.

The Phoenix had reward for their endeavour in the 25th minute when the Reds failed to deal with a Pritchard cross and Jale turned and shot in one motion to pick out the right corner of Grove’s goal.

The match was only level for eight minutes before Phoenix right back Zoe McMeeken unfortunately handed Adelaide back the lead. Her attempted long-range back pass had too much on it and Edwards was unable to stop it going into the back of her net.

The Nix couldn’t find a way back into the match before halftime with the Reds taking a 2-1 lead at the break.

Adelaide came out firing in the opening moments of the second-half, with Fiona Worts and Nanako Sasaki both shooting narrowly over Edwards’ goal inside the first 90 seconds.

Whinham came close to drawing Wellington level in the 50th minute when she produced a cheeky nutmeg to find space in the Adelaide area, but her deflected shot was cleared off the line. It was to be one of the few opportunities for the Phoenix in the second-half, as Adelaide took charge with two goals in five minutes.

Worts scored the Reds’ third in the 55th minute when she shot across Edwards and into the far corner of her goal before Dawber scored her second of the game a few moments later when she squeezed a shot past the 18-year-old Nix ‘keeper.

Wellington had a good spell after conceding their fourth and created some problems for Adelaide with a few dangerous crosses. But all they had to show for their efforts was a long-range shot from substitute Hannah Jones that was comfortably saved by Grove.

There were few chances for either side for the remaining 25 minutes, with the loudest cheer coming when Phoenix defender Cushla Rue came on for her A-League debut in the 79th minute.

The win lifts Adelaide United level on points with second-placed Melbourne City, while the Nix remain bottom of the ladder.

The Wellington Phoenix’s next Liberty A-League match is on Sunday week against Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Wanderers just two point above the Phoenix on the table.

Wellington Phoenix:
12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 4. Mackenzie BARRY (c), 6. Isabel GOMEZ (16. Hannah JONES 62nd), 7. Chloe KNOTT (5. Jordan JASNOS 85th), 8. Grace WISNEWSKI, 9. Ava PRITCHARD (2. Saskia VOSPER 62nd), 10. Grace JALE, 13. Te Reremoana WALKER, 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 17. Talitha KRAMER (14. Cushla Rue 79th), 20. Alyssa WHINHAM
Unused substitutes: 19. Charlotte LANCASTER (gk)

Adelaide United: 1. Annalee GROVE (gk), 2. Emily HODGSON, 3. Matilda MCNAMARA, 4. Kayla SHARPLES, 6. Reona OMIYA (13. Ella TONKIN 82nd), 10. Chelsie DAWBER (15. Meleri MULLAN 78th), 11. Isabel HODGSON, 12. Nanako SASAKI (5. Emma STANBURY 78th), 16. Dylan HOLMES (c), 18. Georgia BEAUMONT (22. Emilia MURRAY 60th), 23. Fiona WORTS
Unused substitutes: 20. Miranda TEMPLEMAN (gk)

10. Chelsie DAWBER (Adelaide United) – 6th
10. Grace JALE (Wellington Phoenix) – 25th
15. Zoe MCMEEKEN (Wellington Phoenix) – 34th own goal
23. Fiona WORTS (Adelaide United) – 55th
10. Chelsie DAWBER (Adelaide United) – 59th

11. Isabel HODGSON (Adelaide United) – yellow – 38th
17. Talitha KRAMER (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 74th