Victory Boosts Finals Hopes As Wellington Nixed Again

Above: Wellington Phoenix goalkeeper Brianna Edwards dives in an attempt to repel a Melbourne Victory attack. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

Wellington Phoenix 0-2 Melbourne Victory

Words and Pictures by Kris Goman exclusively from WIN Stadium (5/2/22).

A blustery, rainy day at WIN Stadium in Wollongong finds Wellington Phoenix up against Melbourne Victory who haven’t played a match since January 16 after many of the team battled COVID. Conditions are cool which makes it great for chasing soccer balls but the wind makes things a bit more challenging.

Phoenix is desperate for a win and well and truly deserves it. They’ve been playing well, scoring goals and winning hearts but they just can’t pull off a win and unfortunately, things don’t change in this match.

Wellington started things off well when Izzy Gomez took a free-kick and Ava Pritchard picked up the rebound to drive it to goal. It went just to the left and out untouched. Pritchard gets another shot from the centre of the box that was saved in the bottom left corner, five minutes later.

Victory had better luck in front of goal. Alana Murphy scored early when she took a corner which was cleared to Alex Chidiac. Chidiac passed back to Murphy who was still near the sideline and she put another cross in. This time it was heading to goal but Lily Alfeld leapt to punch it clear but mistimed the connection slightly and the ball deflected straight into the goal. Bit of an early disaster for Wellington.

The second goal came ten minutes later when Phoenix was playing out and Chidiac intercepted Kate Taylor’s pass and got it to Mindy Barbieri who slipped the ball through to Chidiac on the run into the box. She squared it and Tiff Eliadis ran onto it and with one left-footed touch had put it past Alfeld for her first-ever A-League goal.

Wellington looked set to retaliate when Talitha Kramer brought the ball down the left side. Her cross was headed away by Bunge directly into the path of Gomez who hammered the ball towards goal. Amy Jackson was able to deflect it out safely. This resulted in a series of corners that Victory managed to defend successfully. Grace Jale went close with a header towards top centre that was tipped over by Casey Dumont

Then Victory got a corner of their own. The ball came in from the corner and was headed away to Jackson. She pounded it from the far right corner of the box and Bunge deflected it to the goal. Alfeld got a hand to it but it bounced towards the goal line however Kramer cleared it before it could fully cross the line in a goal-saving strike.

Above: Eyes on the ball in an energetic race for possession. Photo: Kris Goman for Impetus.

In the second half, defence was stepped up on both sides and fewer chances were created. Pritchard got a look in when a right footed shot was saved in the bottom right corner.

A genuine chance for Wellington came late in the game when Vosper intercepted a back pass and centred it to Pritchard at the top of the box. Her shot was on target but blocked by Casey Dumont and she couldn’t capitalise on the rebound.

In stoppage time, Charlotte Lancaster struck from outside the box but Dumont once again saved it in the top right corner. From the breakaway that resulted, Lia Privitelli hit the left post.

There was some spirited work in the last ten minutes as Phoenix tried to claw back a goal but they were ultimately denied and still sit winless at the bottom of the table. In the meantime, Victory looks like they are back in form and now sit in fourth place and are in finals contention.

Speaking after the game, Phoenix head coach Gemma Lewis said: “I actually felt like we were the better team for big periods of that. 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.”

Kris Goman’s Exclusive Photo Gallery from WIN Stadium

Click on the arrow on the right-hand side of the image to advance to the next photo.

Teams: WELLINGTON PHOENIX: Alfeld (C), McMeeken, Barry, Taylor, Kramer, Whinham, Gomez, Jones, Pritchard, Knott, Jale. Substitutes: Edwards (GK), Vosper, Walker, Lancaster, Martin.

Teams: MELBOURNE VICTORY: Dumont, Eliadis, Bunge, Jackson, Doran, Murphy, Chidiac, Barbieri, Privitelli (c), Markovski, Iermano Substitutes: Maizels, Robers, Nevin, Zois, Hendrix

Scorers: Murphy 13’, Eliadis 23’.

Referee: Caitlin Williams.

Attendance: 61.

Artwork: Graphics by PW.

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