Wellington Phoenix too hot as Newcastle cool their Jets

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Unusually sunny conditions met the players in Wellington for the second match of round 12 in the Hyundai A-League. The Phoenix were looking to bounce back from last weekends hammering at the hands of Melbourne Victory, whilst the Jets were keen to halt an alarming run of poor results.

There was an early moment of concern for the home side as captain Andrew Durante limped off with what appeared to be an ankle injury after a seemingly innocuous challenge. Thankfully for Ricki Herbert the former Jets man was able to shake off the knock and continue.

Not surprisingly for a game officiated by Ben Williams, the match took a while to get going after a scrappy first 12 minutes which included 10 stoppages for free kicks.

In truth the first attack of the game brought the first goal, and it was worth the tedious 15 minutes that preceded it.

Durante sent a raking pass down the line to Manny Muscat, who cushion volleyed the ball into the path of Daniel, who first time flicked the ball over to Dani Sanchez to take one touch to control before slotting past Ben Kennedy to put the hosts ahead.

The Spaniard was clearly in the mood, as his audacious effort from the half way line almost caught Kennedy out of position, landing on the roof of the net with ‘keeper beaten.

With the Jets still yet to register any sort of shot or meaningful attack on the Phoenix goal, the home side, and Sanchez, doubled their goal tally. Sanchez’s perfectly timed run was complimented by Muscat’s perfectly weighted ball in behind the defence and the striker looked more Alexis Sanchez than Dani Sanchez as he cooly finished between the ‘keeper’s legs.

Newcastle were all over the place and Tim Brown should have made it 3-0 a minute later when put through on goal, but the midfielder did a great impression of a deer in headlights as he took forever to decide what he was going to do before shooting weakly at Kennedy.

That miss only postponed the agony for the visitors, as 5 minutes later Leo Bertos broke strongly from midfield and crossed for veteran Chris Greenacre to stoop low to head home the third Wellington goal.

Referee Williams dished out 3 yellow cards just before half time as tensions grew on the back of the 20 fouls committed in the game to that point, and shortly after the half time interval it was the referee who played a big hand in the Jets getting back into the contest.

Michael Bridges kicked the ball straigh into the chest of Andrew Durante from point blank range, only for Williams to somehow invent a free kick for handball. Byun stepped up and curled the ball over the wall and into the net, but the Phoenix had every right to be frustrated with the award of the free kick.

The Phoenix saved Williams’ blushes, however, by ensuring that any signs of a Jets comeback were short lived. Substitute Mirjan Pavlovic came off the bench and added a fourth ‘Nix goal on the counter attack before doubling his personal tally and adding a fifth for the home side when he met Daniel’s corner with a bullet header into the net from six yards.

There was time for a consolation goal for the visitors, as Ryan Griffiths headed in his sixth goal of the season from a corner with two minutes remaining.

Plenty of goals and plenty of entertainment for the fans who turned out to see Ben Williams, erm, sorry, the game.

Player of the year points:

3. Dani Sanchez
2. Daniel
1. Mirjan Pavlovic

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