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Powell’s prime performance powers Phoenix in Parramatta

Wellington Phoenix have bounced back from a tumultuous few months on the pitch with a comprehensive 5-2 victory over Western Sydney today.

Four goals to Blake Powell — including a first-half hat-trick — put the Phoenix in the box seat in a highly attacking and entertaining game. Michael McGlinchey added the fifth for the ‘Nix from the penalty spot late in the game, whilst Mark Bridge and Mitch Nichols scored for the home side.

After a 1-1 draw in Melbourne last week, Tony Popovic was left with a series of selection headaches with Dimas Delgado (suspended), Alberto Aguilar (suspended) and Andreu (hamstring injury) all unavailable — a fact that would make a significant impact on the game.

Jonathan Aspropotamitis, Jacob Pepper and Kearyn Baccus would start in their places, with Shannon Cole on the bench for what would be his first A-League action in exactly one year.

Wellington, conversely, have been in a terrible vein of form, having gone winless in their last 9 A-League matches. Coach Ernie Merrick rung the changes for the clash at Wanderland, with Albert Riera, Matthew Ridenton and new signing Hamish Watson introduced into the starting side.

Despite that recent poor form, it was the Phoenix who started brightly, opening the scoring after just 4 minutes — the first time they’ve scored the first goal in their last nine matches.

A fast break out of defence down the left wing allowed Tom Doyle to whip in an inch-perfect cross to the back post, where Blake Powell was on hand to head the bouncing ball past Andrew Redmayne and into the back of the net.

Match Details Full match details »


Goal4′ B.PowellGoal20′ B.PowellGoal33′ B.PowellYellow Card45′ T.DoyleGoal71′ B.PowellPenalty90′ M.McGlinchey (Pen)

Western Sydney almost answered back minutes later, but after the ball pinballed around in the penalty, neither Scott Neville, Nikolai Topor-Stanley or Mark Bridge could force the ball home; Andrew Durante eventually clearing the ball for the Phoenix.

The Wanderers had been shocked into action, and started to take a firm grip on the game, controlling possession and launching continuous attacks on the Phoenix defence.

After a tangle of legs with Dylan Fox in the 10th minute, Bridge escaped into the right side of the box before placing the ball across goal toward Romeo Castelen at the back post, but the Dutchman’s lunging effort only found the upright and ricocheted out for a corner.

Dario Vidosic, too, had a chance to equalise, but his touch on a Nichols’ ball toward the back post was brilliantly denied by a diving Glen Moss.

Then, with the Wanderers seemingly destined to score, the Phoenix made it 2-0 against the run of play.

The combination of Doyle and Powell were heavily involved again, with the former’s cross flicked on by Hamish Watson to Powell on the edge of the penalty area. After gathering on his chest, Powell turned onto his left boot and buried a shot into the top corner on the half volley, for his — and his side’s — second goal of the game.

If the Phoenix were in dreamland at 2-0, they were in seventh heaven in the 33rd minute when Powell completed a rare first-half hat-trick.

A long ball out of defence was driven down the right wing, with Powell escaping past the Wanderers’ Scott Jamieson. Redmayne advanced to close Powell down but, from the tight angle, the Phoenix striker lobbed the goalkeeper, squeezing the ball in at the back post to complete a remarkable treble — the first of the 2015/16 A-League season.

By the half time break, the Wanderers would have several more chances, but they still couldn’t find a way past a confident Glen Moss and a resolute Phoenix defence.

Tony Popovic rolled the dice at half time replacing Jacob Pepper with Brendon Santalab, and it almost paid immediate dividends for the Wanderers.

In the 49th minute, Vidosic rolled off his defender before sliding the ball through the defence for Santalab. Disappointingly, though, the super-sub blazed his shot high over the bar.

The Wanderers continued to press, and dominated the possession, corner and shots on goal statistics.

Despite that, though, the home side still struggled in front of goal, and were made to pay for their profligacy in the 71st minute when the Phoenix made it 4-0.

McGlinchey attacked down the left wing, drawing two defenders in before delivering a perfect cross to the back post where Blake Powell was on hand to head home his fourth goal of the afternoon.

Western Sydney did eventually claw a goal back in the 75th minute, when Mitch Nichols found space and blasted home a powerful shot from distance into the top corner past a helpless Glen Moss.

Then, when Mark Bridge added a second for the Wanderers in the 84th minute, the comeback was well and truly on. A mistake from Louis Fenton allowed the Wanderers to advance in numbers, with Bridge’s first-time shot finding a way under Moss and into the back

The Phoenix weren’t to be denied, however, and a foul by Aspropotamitis on Kwabena Appiah in the 89th minute earned the defender a straight red card, and a penalty for the ‘Nix. With Powell having been substituted, McGlinchey stepped up and buried the chance into the bottom corner to seal all three points.

Wellington now face Newcastle next week at Hunter Stadium, whilst the Wanderers head across town for the Sydney derby at Allianz Stadium.


Ultimate A-League ‘Player of the Season’ Votes
3 Blake Powell (Wellington Phoenix)
2 Manny Muscat (Wellington Phoenix)
1 Michael McGlinchey (Wellington Phoenix)

About the author

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

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  • DT

    Finally some match recognition for Manny Muscat.