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Phoenix’s triple treat keeps Jets winless

Six minutes. That’s how long it took Newcastle Jets’ afternoon on Saturday to turn from dream to nightmare, as a rampant spell saw Wellington Phoenix overturn a 1-0 half time deficit to claim their fifth win of the season.

It gets no easier for the Novocastrians with matches against each of the top three in the coming weeks, but the Phoenix will be breathing a sigh of relief after saving it until very late to steal victory.

Wellington were unchanged from last weekend’s win against Melbourne City, while Phil Stubbins made four changes to his starting line-up, including the re-introduction of serial Wellington terroriser Joel Griffiths.

No surprises, then, in how they fell behind after 25 minutes, Griffiths tapping home an Andrew Hoole pass along the six yard box after an excellent ball by David Carney.

The striker had earlier been thwarted by a smart one-on-one save by Glen Moss before clipping the rebound onto the crossbar.

Michael McGlinchey was at the heart of Wellington’s attack in the first half, firing over from point blank range before being denied by Ben Kennedy after the goalkeeper had fumbled a cross by Roy Krishna.

Moments before the break he collected a lofted pass from Alex Rodriguez but was again thwarted by Kennedy to round off what was a frustrating opening stanza for the midfielder.

Wellington lacked the definitive touch in front of goal and were too often caught out trying to play the killer pass in behind the defence to Krishna and Nathan Burns, who returned to his former employers fresh from scoring the club’s maiden hat trick a week ago.

Ernie Merrick’s side were fortunate not to fall even further behind after the half hour; an exceptional cross-field pass from Hoole directed by Griffiths straight into the arms of Moss.

Carney – who had one of his more impressive games of the season – struck the woodwork again from a free-kick as the opening half expired and Stubbins went into the break with a lead; albeit a shaky one.

Wellington looked more likely in the second spell and but for a heavy Krishna touch they could have equalised within the hour. Roly Bonevacia was at his best in the middle of the park and only a spectacular last-ditch tackle by Scott Neville prevented him getting in behind, but the writing was on the wall.

But while a Wellington goal never seemed far away, the nature with which they took control of the match was unexpected.

They scored twice in a minute, and three times in five-and-a-half, to break the Jets’ hearts and push themselves to within a point of the top four.

First it was Burns, who solidified his position atop the golden boot charts with his eighth, latching onto an expert pass by Bonevacia to round the goalkeeper and tap home.

Seconds later Wellington were in front, McGlinchey on hand to bundle in after Bonevacia had struck the post. There was an element of fortune to the goal, with replays revealing that the All White was clearly in an offside position when the Dutchman pulled the trigger.

No controversy, though, about the third. Krishna’s third of the season was a blasted finish from outside the area, flying past Kennedy into the back of the net. It was fitting that Krishna could consolidate his role in the side so spectacularly after the man he overtook in the pecking order, Jeremy Brockie, confirmed his impending departure mid-week.

Carney tried to match Krishna’s strike with ten minutes to play but the hosts simply crumbled after falling behind, and were consigned to their fifth loss of what has been a torrid, winless start to the season.

They have failed to win a match after scoring first in four separate occasions this term.

Conversely, Wellington have pushed themselves to within touching distance of the top four and have won some breathing space ahead of the chasing pack. They play Newcastle’s local rivals, Central Coast, in Auckland next Saturday.


Ultimate A-League ‘Player of the Year’ Votes
3 Roly Bonevacia (Wellington Phoenix)
2 David Carney (Newcastle Jets)
1 Michael McGlinchey (Wellington Phoenix)
Youth Andrew Hoole (Newcastle Jets)

About the author

avatarJoe is a sports journalist for Goal Weekly, and a writer for Ultimate A-League.

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