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Clinical Victory run riot in Wellington

WELvMELMelbourne Victory staked their claim for second spot on the A-League ladder with a thumping 4-1 win over a poor Phoenix outfit on Saturday night.

With the emphatic win, Victory pushed themselves up to second, and rely on both the Wanderers and the Mariners to drop points in their final matches this weekend in order to maintain that position.

Wellington coach Ernie Merrick had a few more headaches to add to his already exhaustive list, with Ben Sigmund and Glen Moss both out after sustaining injuries in last week’s loss to Sydney. Ridenton and Huysegems were pushed to the bench, with Luke Adams, Tyler Boyd and reserve goalkeeper Jacob Spoonley all included.

With his side looking to try and secure 2nd place on the ladder, Kevin Muscat brought back Nick Ansell from injury, with James Jeggo having to be content with a spot on the substitutes bench. Tom Rogic was also left at home with a small injury niggle, meaning James Troisi reclaiming his spot in the starting XI.

Straight out of the blocks, it was the Victory who came to play. Some interplay between Troisi and Finkler ended with the former, whose ball across goal left Archie Thompson with the easiest of tasks; poking the ball past Spoonley to give the visitors the lead inside 40 seconds.

Match Details Full match details »

Date/Time Sat Apr 12, 2014, 3:30 PMStadium Westpac StadiumAttendance 5,336Referee Chris Beath

Wellington

Yellow Card34′ K.CunninghamRed Card57′ S.TimminsYellow Card81′ J.BrockieGoal90′ J.Brockie

Melb. Victory

Goal1′ A.ThompsonYellow Card20′ N.AnsellGoal29′ J.TroisiGoal45′ G.FinklerPenalty59′ M.Milligan (Pen)

The Phoenix seemed shell-shocked, with the team in yellow and black unable to get a foot on the ball in the opening five minutes. James Troisi, in particular, was running amok in the final third of the pitch, causing the Phoenix back-four no end of problems.

Wellington’s first real opportunity came together with their first real period of quality possession. Boyd, however, couldn’t beat Nathan Coe at his near post, after some clever work one-on-one to beat Scott Galloway on the left wing.

Troisi would go close to adding a second for Melbourne in the 25th minute. A give-and-go with Leigh Broxham ended with the attacking midfielder, who fired just wide of the post and into the side netting.

It would make no difference, however, as Troisi would have his reward less than 5 minutes later. A purposeful counter-attack by the Victory allowed Kosta Barbarouses to feed Troisi in behind the Phoenix defence. With no options available elsewhere in the penalty area, Troisi let fly with a bullet of a shot into the roof of the net, past a hapless and under-siege Spoonley.

Phoenix weren’t without their chances in the first half, though. Two scrambles in the penalty area from set pieces left Victory fans with their hearts in their mouths, with Melbourne’s shaky defence doing just enough to keep the home side at bay.

In the shadows of half time, the game would be all but over. A sumptuous team goal, finished off by Gui Finkler, would put the cherry on top of what was already one of the Victory’s best first-half performances this season. Traore passed in-board for Barbarouses, who turned and flicked the ball through to the on-side Finkler. With little backlift, the Brazilian jinked the ball around Spoonley with the outside of his boot, leaving the ball to dribble over the line and into the back of the net.

It was more of the same after half-time, with the Victory creating bundles of chances. Barbarouses forced a good save out of Spoonley from an acute angle shortly after the break, before Leigh Broxham’s shot almost fell into the path of Barbarouses minutes later.

Some brilliant forward pressing from the Victory in the 57th minute allowed James Troisi to dink a pass around Andrew Durante, and into the path of Barbarouses. With an empty net at his mercy, the New Zealand international was brought down from behind by Shaun Timmins, who duly received his marching orders from referee Chris Beath. Milligan stepped up and converted from the spot, for his 4th goal in his last 5 matches.

Melbourne continued to push, with intricate passing and long periods of possession the hallmarks of their performance. Muscat waited until the 71st minute to make a few ‘expected’ substitutions, with the in-form pair of Milligan and Troisi replaced by youngsters Jeggo and Makarounas.

Despite the constant pressure, Wellington were able to hold out for the final 30 minutes and deny the Victory a fifth.

In stoppage time, Jeremy Brockie gave the fans something to cheer, volleying home with power from a corner, with essentially the last kick of the game.

For the Phoenix, though, this loss coupled with a potential win for Melbourne Heart in the later game would unfortunately equal a second-successive Wooden Spoon for the Kiwi side.

About the author

avatarJustin is a passionate football fan, and the Editor-in-chief of Ultimate A-League.

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