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Krishna ensures Phoenix, Mariners draw in Auckland

Despite having the vast majority of chances, the Wellington Phoenix had to come from behind to draw 1-1 with the Mariners in Auckland tonight. In front of over 11,000 fans at Eden Park, Roy Krishna’s second half goal cancelled out Matt Simon’s 40th minute opener.

The Phoenix were visiting Auckland for the fourth time in their history, and had yet to be beaten at the venue — registering a couple of wins and a draw in their past three games at the traditional Rugby venue.

Coming off a spurring victory over the Jets the week before, Ernie Merrick understandably persisted with a largely unchanged squad for the ‘Nix, with Ben Sigmund bringing up his 150th A-League game for the Phoenix.

For Phil Moss’ Mariners, though, they were looking to move on from the disappointment of their 3-0 loss to Melbourne Victory in North Sydney last week. Jacob Poscoliero returned for the Central Coast, with Storm Roux missing out on a spot.

Import Kim Seung-Yong was also included on the bench, and would be looking to make his first appearance for the club since round 4.

The opening half was largely dictated by the home side. Wellington racked up around 60% of possession through the opening 45 minutes, but despite a plethora of chances, it was the Mariners who would go into the break ahead.

A shot from distance by Nick Fitzgerald in the 40th minute could only be parried away by Glen Moss in the Phoenix goal, with Matt Simon on hand to poke home the rebound underneath the All Whites stopper.

Before that, though, it was the likes of Roy Krishna, Roly Bonevacia and Nathan Burns who looked likely to put the Phoenix in front.

Match Details Full match details »

Date/Time Sat Dec 13, 2014, 3:00 PMStadium Eden ParkAttendance 11,051Referee Alan Milliner

Wellington

Goal76′ R.Krishna

Central Coast

Yellow Card2′ Z.AndersonGoal40′ M.SimonYellow Card49′ M.SimonYellow Card73′ R.VernesYellow Card84′ J.Hutchinson

In the 15th minute, Burns played Krishna in through the middle of the park, in what would be a sign of things to come over the next 20 minutes. A lunging tackle by Poscoliero denied the Fijian a clear shot on goal, with the ball trickling out for a corner.

A minute later, Krishna would again go close after he headed Fenton’s near-post cross narrowly wide of the upright, while under extreme pressure from two Mariners defenders.

Central Coast’s first legitimate chance came in the 17th minute from a corner. After the ball was headed toward goal, John Hutchinson attempted to shoot on the turn, with Moss doing enough to block the shot from close range. Mariners players appealed for a handball decision, but their protest were correctly waved away by referee Alan Milliner.

Bonevacia had two golden opportunities to put his side in front shortly after. A one-two with Krishna saw the Dutchman’s shot smothered by Liam Reddy from an acute angle, before Michael McGlinchey played Bonevacia through one-on-one with Reddy a minute later. Disappointingly, the chance was again wasted, as he spooned his shot well over the crossbar.

An early injury to Nick Montgomery signalled the introduction of Glen Trifiro, and in the 25th minute, a free kick from distance almost saw Trifiro put the visitors in front, if not for a fingertip save onto the crossbar by Moss.

Wellington would continue to put pressure on the Mariners defence before and after the Matt Simon goal, but to their credit, the likes of Reddy, Poscoliero, Anderson and Rose held up well, as wave after wave of Phoenix attacking moves bore down on them.

The physicality of the opening 45 minutes continued into the second half. The ongoing battle between Simon and Manny Muscat came to a fore with a poor tackle by the former forcing the referee to issue a yellow ticket.

Elsewhere, Richard Vernes and Ben Sigmund were in each other’s faces repeatedly, as referee Milliner struggled to keep control.

Phoenix fans would be forgiven for thinking it wouldn’t be their day, with Krishna spurning another chance in the 52nd minute. A fantastic through-ball by Muscat found the Phoenix striker, but again he failed to get his shot on target.

It could’ve been worse for the fans in Auckland in the 58th minute, with Matt Simon released through one-on-one with Moss after breaking the offside trap. To Moss’ credit, he did well to get low and deny what was a relatively poor effort from the Mariners striker.

Despite continual to pressure on the Mariners defence, the Phoenix were still struggling to find the killer strike that would get them back into the game.

That all changed in the 76th minute, when Roy Krishna finally found the back of the net. A delightfully chipped ball from McGlinchey found Krishna, whose chested the ball down and fired low past Reddy to get the Phoenix back on level terms.

Ernie Merrick made two attacking changes in the final 10 minutes, as the home side pushed for a winner. Nathan Burns and Albert Riera both made way, with Jeremy Brockie and Kenny Cunningham introduced into the fray.

As the game wound down into 3 minutes of injury time, neither team were able to find the elusive winning goal.

On balance, the Phoenix may be disappointed not to leave Auckland with all 3 points, given their continual profligacy in front of goal. For the Mariners, a point on the road isn’t the worst result, and they can return to Gosford with their heads held high after a much-improved showing.

 

Ultimate A-League ‘Player of the Year’ Votes
3 Michael McGlinchey (Wellington Phoenix)
2 Matt Simon (Central Coast)
1 Roy Krishna (Wellington Phoenix)
Youth Michael Neill (Central Coast)

About the author

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

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