Gold Coast win at home to cement third place

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The Phoenix’s woeful away form continued at Skilled Park against Gold Coast United on Saturday night, with the Kiwi’s going down 2-0 in wet conditions on a poor surface. Wellington have picked up just four points on the road this season and were undone by poor marking at set pieces, and were punished for giving away needless fouls.

Both sides were wasteful in the early stages of what developed at times as a very physical, aggressive contest. Wellington should have taken the lead in the 9th minute after a perfect whipped cross from Daniel found Chris Greenacre whose header somehow flashed wide from point blank range.

Gold Coast had a similar chance in the 16th minute when Dino Djulbic headed wide when unmarked from a Jason Culina free kick.

Gold Coast had the better of the early chances, and took the lead in the 21st minute. Bas van den Brink got on the scoresheet for the third time in as many weeks, as he timed his run to perfection to meet Culina’s inch perfect corner with a powerful header.

Zenon Caravella, shortly after taking the field as an injury replacement for Robson was hacked down late by Tim Brown who did well to avoid a booking. Defender Kristian Rees headed against the post from the resulting Culina free kick.

Despite United’s dominance, Phoenix began to carve out a number of decent chances of their own, with Paul Ifill, Manny Muscat, and Daniel all having decent efforts.

Bruce Djite then came close to doubling the advantage but was charged down bravely by Wellington ‘keeper Mark Paston who was injured in the collision, and replaced by the former Mariners favourite Danny Vukovic just before the half time break. It was later revealed that the Kiwi international suffered suspected signification medial ligament damage and will be out for some time.

Phoenix started the second half strongly, and threatened early from a Daniel corner with Paul Ifill and substitute Marco Rojas looking particularly lively throughout the second period.

At the other end Andrew Durante’s clumsy challenge on Culina just outside the area gave the United skipper a great chance but his low drive was well saved from Vukovic.

Shortly after though, Gold Coast made it 2-0 when James Brown scored after a goal-mouth scramble. The Phoenix were once again punished for conceding needless fouls, and their defence was yet again found wanting from the resulting Culina free kick. Vukovic saved well initially from Rees, but Brown was on hand to smash home from close range.

This goal effectively ended the contest, and the match finished 2-0 to the home side, who maintained their unbeaten record over the Phoenix this season in three matches. Glen Moss kept his eighth clean sheet of the campaign which sees Gold Coast remain in third place, putting pressure on second placed Adelaide United. Both teams face the Newcastle Jets in their next fixtures, with the Phoenix in desperate need of three points after another disappointing away result.

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