Women’s Match Review: Wellington Phoenix vs. Brisbane Roar

The Wellington Phoenix have been cruelly denied their second point of their maiden Liberty A-League women’s season.

The Phoenix have been beaten 3-2 by the Brisbane Roar at WIN Stadium in Wollongong after leading 2-0 midway through the first-half and 2-1 at halftime.

Brisbane’s match-winner came from the spot four minutes from fulltime, when the Roar were awarded a contentious penalty.

Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis says it is a tough result to take and the team have taken it hard.

“A couple of the girls are really upset by it, feeling responsible, feeling like they lost the game for the team,” Lewis told media post-game.

She was surprised how her players responded to having their first lead.

“I think at halftime they looked more petrified than when they were 5-nil down at halftime.

“They’re still learning and they haven’t experienced being up and the expectation to get something out of this game.

“When we went 2-nil up the playing started to get a little bit more tense, it started to get rushed, it started to get hectic.

“It didn’t feel like we were 2-nil up. It felt like we were down almost.”

Lewis was without two of her regulars, with forward Kelli Brown out with concussion while centre back Mackenzie Barry was missing because of an ankle injury.

Fit-again forward Grace Jale replaced Brown up front, while midfielder Te Reremoana Walker deputised at centre back in her maiden A-League start.

The Phoenix made an encouraging start, pinning the Roar inside their half, however it was Brisbane who should have taken the lead when Brazilian Mariel Hecher earned the Roar a penalty in the 14th minute.

But Wellington captain Lily Alfeld produced an incredible double save, denying Larissa Crummer from the spot and Katrina Gorry’s follow up before Grace Wisnewski blocked Ayesha Norrie’s effort.

The Phoenix were inspired and were soon celebrating just their second goal of the season.

Wisnewski won possession on the edge of the Brisbane area, found Alyssa Whinham, who rode a couple of challenges and then with her left-foot slotted the ball past Georgina Worth in the Brisbane goal.

The look on Whinham’s face was priceless. She appeared to be in a state of utter disbelief and seemingly didn’t know how to celebrate before she was mobbed by her teammates.

“It’s probably the most authentic reaction I’ve ever seen from somebody scoring a goal. I don’t think she could quite belief it herself,” Lewis said.

Five minutes later the Phoenix were in dreamland with Jale guiding a Chloe Knott corner into the Brisbane goal to double Wellington’s lead.

They continued to push for a third, but shortly after half an hour Hecher pulled a goal back for the Roar when the Phoenix gave away possession on the edge of their area.

Alfeld ensured Wellington would take their first halftime lead, producing a top draw save to parry away a Gorry shot from distance.

The halftime advantage was short lived with Crummer scoring just seconds into the second-half when Wellington were unable to deal with a cross from Roar substitute Cannon Clough.

Brisbane came within inches of taking the lead in the 59th minute, when Gorry rattled the crossbar with a shot from distance and the visitors were looking the more threatening of the two sides.

But the Phoenix defended bravely and it wasn’t until the 87th minute that the Roar got their second opportunity from the penalty spot.

Gorry made no mistake, finding the top corner after sending Alfeld the wrong way.

Wellington searched for an equaliser, but were unable to find a third goal to snatch a share of the spoils.

The Wellington Phoenix will need to bounce back quickly as their next Liberty A-League match is against Adelaide United in South Australia on Friday night.

Wellington Phoenix:
1. Lily ALFELD (gk) (c), 3. Kate TAYLOR, 6. Isabel GOMEZ (16. Hannah JONES 86th), 7. Chloe KNOTT, 8. Grace WISNEWSKI, 9. Ava PRITCHARD, 10. Grace JALE (5. Jordan JASNOS 64th), 13. Te Reremoana WALKER, 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 17. Talitha KRAMER (2. Saskia VOSPER 46th), 20. Alyssa WHINHAM
Unused substitutes: 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk), 18. Annabel MARTIN

Brisbane Roar: Georgina WORTH (gk), 2. Anna MARGRAF (11. Natalie TATHEM 46th),  3. Jessie RASSCHAERT, 5. Jamilla RANKIN, 7. Ayesha NORRIE (c), 8. Mariel HECHER (19. Hollie PALMER 86th), 9. Larissa CRUMMER, 10. Katrina GORRY (6. Nia STAMATOPOULOS 90+3), 12. Shea CONNORS, 14. Rie KITANO (22. Cannon CLOUGH 46th), 18. Annabel HAFFENDEN
Unused substitutes: 21. Mia BAILEY (gk)

20. Alyssa WHINHAM (Wellington Phoenix) – 20th
10. Grace JALE (Wellington Phoenix) – 25th
8. Mariel HECHER (Brisbane Roar) – 34th
9. Larissa CRUMMER (Brisbane Roar) – 47th
10. Katrina GORRY (Brisbane Roar) – 87th pen

10. Grace JALE (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 11th
17. Talitha KRAMER (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 15th
8. Grace WISNEWSKI (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 62nd