Women’s Match Review: Wellington Phoenix vs. Melbourne Victory

The Wellington Phoenix have tested the reigning Liberty A-League champions but have ultimately fallen to the ninth straight defeat of their maiden season.

The Phoenix have been beaten 2-0 by Melbourne Victory at WIN Stadium in Wollongong, despite getting the better of their finals-chasing rivals for large parts of the contest.

Wellington matched Victory for possession and created more goalscoring opportunities than their opponents.

“I actually felt like we were the better team for big periods of that,” Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis told media post-game.

“I thought the first goal came against the run of play. I felt like we had decent amounts of possession, I felt like we were controlling passages of the game so to come in two-nil down at halftime was a really interesting one.

“Ultimately the difference between us and them was that they were clinical in moments when they needed to be and we weren’t.

“That’s the calibre of a top team that can live in moments when games aren’t necessarily going their way and still get a result out of it.”

Lewis made just one change to the XI which started Monday night’s 3-2 defeat to Perth, with Isabel Gomez returning in place of Grace Wisnewski, who was unavailable for mental health reasons.

The Victory settled the quicker of the two sides and put the Phoenix under early pressure, but Wellington weathered the early storm and had the first shot at goal in the fifth minute, when Ava Pritchard narrowly missed the target with a left-footed effort from the edge of the area.

Moments later the Nix looked dangerous from the first corner of the game but weren’t able to test Casey Dumont in the Victory goal.

The reigning champions took the lead against the run of play five minutes later when Wellington captain Lily Alfeld was unable to deal with a cross from Victory midfielder Alana Murphy and tipped the ball into her own net.

The Victory went two-nil up through the first-half after the Phoenix gave away possession on the edge of their own box. Melindaj Barbieri pounced, found Alexandra Chidiac who delivered a perfectly-weighted cross that Tiffany Eliadis directed past Alfeld.

Despite the double setback, the Nix players’ heads didn’t drop, and they went searching for a goal of their own before halftime.

A powerful long-range shot from Gomez was deflected just wide of the Victory goal and Dumont tipped a Grace Jale header over the bar which came from the third of four successive Phoenix corners.

Talitha Kramer ensured Wellington trailed by just two goals at halftime when she produced a great goal-line clearance in the 40th minute to deny Victory their third.

There was few openings for either side in the first quarter of an hour of the second-half and Lewis decided to make a triple-change in the 62nd minute, with Charlotte Lancaster, Saskia Vosper and Te Reremoana Walker replacing Grace Jale, Talitha Kramer and Alyssa Whinham.

They all made an impact as the Phoenix continued to search for a way back into the contest.

Dumont was the far busier of the two ‘keepers with Alfeld relatively unemployed in the Wellington goal until she was substituted in the 82nd minute to allow 19-year-old Brianna Edwards to make her Phoenix debut.

Pritchard was looking the most dangerous of the NIx players and her best opportunity came five minutes from fulltime when Vosper pounced on a loose ball and cut the ball back to Pritchard on the edge of the area. She connected well with her shot, but it was well saved by Dumont.

Victory’s ‘keeper was also called into action in second-half stoppage time but she was able to hold on to record the clean sheet and secure the reigning champions three points in their fight for a finals berth.

After two games in five days the Wellington Phoenix have a full week to prepare for their next Liberty A-League match against Canberra United at Viking Park in Canberra.

They too are looking for their first win of the season.

Wellington Phoenix:
1. Lily ALFELD (gk) (c) (12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk) 82nd), 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 6. Isabel GOMEZ, 7. Chloe KNOTT (18. Annabel MARTIN 82nd), 9. Ava PRITCHARD, 10. Grace JALE (19 Charlotte LANCASTER 62nd), 15. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 16. Hannah JONES, 17. Talitha KRAMER (2. Saskia VOSPER 62nd), 20. Alyssa WHINHAM (13. Te Reremoana WALKER 62nd)

Melbourne Victory: 1. Casey DUMONT (gk), 2. Tiffany ELIADIS (25. Brooke HENDRIX 74th), 3. Claudia BUNGE (4. Emma ROBERS 89th), 8. Alana MURPHY (16. Paige ZOIS 86th), 10. Alexandra CHIDIAC, 13. Polly DURAN, 15. Amy JACKSON, 17. Maja MARKOVSKI, 19. Lia PRIVITELLI (c), 22. Francesca IERMANO, 30. Melindaj BARBIERI
Unused substitutes: 20. Melissa MAIZELS (gk), 5. Courtney NEVIN.

8. Alana MURPHY (Melbourne Victory) – 14th
2. Tiffany ELIADIS (Melbourne Victory) – 23rd

6. Isabel GOMEZ (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 54th