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

Another narrow defeat for the Wellington Phoenix in the Liberty A-League.

The Phoenix have been beaten 1-0 by Adelaide United on a hot evening at Coopers Stadium in Adelaide, five days after conceding a late penalty to lose 3-2 to the Brisbane Roar.

A Wellington own goal in the 68th minute was the difference between the two sides.

Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis told media post-match that “it was a really interesting game”.

“It wasn’t exactly what I thought it would be. We’re both quite pressing and aggressive teams physically and it actually felt like both teams were a little bit passive,” Lewis said.

“I thought we’d find a second gear, especially when the game was going longer at a nil-nil stance, but as soon as that goal went in, you could see that the momentum had shifted and we had a mountain to climb.

“I thought our press was the worst it has been for a while. We were quite disconnected and they took advantage of that.”

Lewis believes the heat was a factor.

“We’ve played in hotter, like against Sydney, so we can’t really use it as an excuse.

“I think the moment that we have a hot game like that with drinks breaks, there’s that mentality where they kind of let it get in their heads a little bit like ‘aw this is going to be hot’,”

“When you’re thinking that way you’re automatically feeling it, but that’s learnings for them in terms of being a pro and get past that stuff and not let it affect their performance.

“Whereas I thought that probably did seep in to how passive we were.”

Gemma Lewis named an unchanged XI for the match, with Kelli Brown and Mackenzie Barry unavailable due to concussion and injury respectively.

Grace Jale was handed her second straight start up front, while Te Reremoana Walker again deputised at centre back in Barry’s absence.

Captain Lily Alfeld had to have her wits about her almost immediately from kick-off. The Phoenix goalkeeper denied both Nanako Sasaki and Kayla Sharples from corners in the opening minutes.

Wellington had their first opportunity around a quarter of an hour into the match when right back Zoe McMeeken had a shot from distance but was unable to test Annalee Grove in the Adelaide goal.

They came closest to beating Grove in the 32nd minute when Jale narrowly missed finding the top corner of her goal after unleashing a dangerous shot from just outside the penalty area.

Fellow Phoenix forward Ava Pritchard also shot wide from a narrow angle before halftime after getting on the end of a inch-perfect through ball from Isabel Gomez.

Wellington arguably had the better of the first half but had nothing to show for it.

Adelaide camped themselves in the Phoenix half to start the second-half and Dylan Holmes volleyed just over Alfeld’s goal in the 57th minute after a sustained spell of pressure.

They broke the deadlock 11 minutes later, when captain Isabel Hodgson delivered an inviting cross to the back post where McMeeken was unfortunately credited with the final touch while trying to deny Adelaide forward Paige Hayward.

The Nix continued to press for a goal of their own and substitute Jordan Jasnos had their best opportunity in the 77th minute when she shot narrowly wide from six yards out.

Adelaide United held on to record their fourth win of the season and draw level on points with the third placed Melbourne Victory.

The Wellington Phoenix remain bottom of the table and will face the finals-chasing Perth Glory next week in round nine of the Liberty A-League. The date and venue have yet to be confirmed.

Wellington Phoenix:
1. Lily ALFELD (gk) (c), 3. Kate TAYLOR, 6. Isabel GOMEZ (16. Hannah JONES 78th), 7. Chloe KNOTT, 8. Grace WISNEWSKI, 9. Ava PRITCHARD, 10. Grace JALE, 13. Te Reremoana WALKER, 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 17. Talitha KRAMER (2. Saskia VOSPER 78th), 20. Alyssa WHINHAM (5. Jordan JASNOS 61st)
Unused substitutes: 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 18. Annabel MARTIN

Adelaide United: 1. Annalee GROVE (gk), 2. Emily HODGSON, 3. Matilda MCNAMARA, 4. Kayla SHARPLES, 8. Emily CONDON (6. Reona OMIYA 46th), 9. Paige HAYWARD (22. Emilia MURRAY 72nd), 10. Chelsie DAWBER (18. Georgia BEAUMONT 87th), 11. Isabel HODGSON (c), 12. Nanako SASAKI (13. Ella TONKIN 90+4), 16. Dylan HOLMES, 23. Fiona WORTS
Unused substitutes: 20. Miranda TEMPLEMAN (gk)

15. Zoe MCMEEKEN (Wellington Phoenix) – 69th own goal