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City, Phoenix in Lower Hutt deadlock

Wellington Phoenix and Melbourne City played out an intriguing 0-0 draw in front of a 9,000 strong crowd at Hutt Recreation Reserve on Saturday afternoon.

Ernie Merrick made just the one change to the side that lost 2-0 to Western Sydney last week, with Alex Rodriguez starting ahead of Vince Lia. Meanwhile, Tando Velaphi reclaimed his position in goals for City after missing the last two weeks, while Hoffman and Ramsay made way for David Williams and Josh Kennedy, the latter recovering well from his thirty-minute stint in Melbourne’s derby defeat.

With both sides coming into the match on the back of losses, it was the visitors that enjoyed a strong start as Mooy controlled the tempo. Nevertheless, it was Wellington who had the first break at goal as Burns burst forward in the fifth minute, only to be closed down quickly by Kisnorbo.

City suffered a major blow soon after in the 9th minute when Damien Duff had to come off due to a foot injury, with Ramsay replacing him.

Chances were few and far between in the early stages of the match as the players struggled to come to grips with a strong southerly breeze, but a poor turnover from the Phoenix defence in the 16th minute allowed saw Kennedy through on goal and it took a sliding Sigmund and stretching Moss to keep the striker’s effort from going in.

Ben Sigmund was the hero again soon after when Williams managed to find space down the right and played a ball across goal towards an open Ramsay in the box, only for the Wellington defender to intercept the ball at the last moment.

The Phoenix then had Moss to thank for keeping the scores level as he somehow blocked Chapman’s point-blank shot on the line with an outstretched leg after his defence failed to clear a City free-kick.

Wellington looked desperately short of ideas in the first half as City pressed, with Kennedy proving a nuisance up forward and Mooy continuing to dictate play in the middle. A long range effort from Michael McGlinchey was all the hosts could show as they attempted to regroup at the break.

It didn’t get much better for the Phoenix in the early stages of the second half, as Fenton was forced off with concussion after Williams’ drive from just outside the box collected him in the side of the face. The next sequence of play saw Sigmund go down with a head injury but, thankfully, the defender was able to continue.

The visitors could have snatched the lead in the 55th minute when Kennedy cut past Durante and squared for Ramsay, yet he could only shoot over the bar.

Wellington finally began pushing forward in numbers and they were almost rewarded when Bonevacia picked out Boxall from a free-kick, only for the substitute to head inexplicably wide from close range.

The hosts were on the offensive again soon after, as Rodriguez saw his effort from outside the box deflected just wide, with Velaphi left stranded.

Krishna then wasted a golden chance to score in the 79th minute from six yards out, somehow failing to make contact with McGlinchey’s inch-perfect ball.

Wellington continued to press for the rest of the match but were unable to find the back of the net as City hung on to leave New Zealand with a point.

 

Ultimate A-League ‘Player of the Year’ Votes
3 Roly Bonevacia (Wellington Phoenix)
2 Aaron Mooy (Melbourne City)
1 Ben Sigmund (Wellington Phoenix)
Youth Roly Bonevacia (Wellington Phoenix)

About the author

avatarJulian is a freelance writer and editor, film festival programmer, and serial podcaster.

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