Wellington Phoenix get their revenge against Western United

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There was a ruthless and dynamic attitude following Western United and Wellington Phoenix in Ballarat as the two rival sides battled out for victory.

Both United and the Nix had a strong start to life before tonight’s game and both showed no signs of slowing down. Mark Rudan’s United were on a three-game unbeaten run and while their recent form was encouraging it was nothing compared to the Phoenix who had gone six games without defeat.

Wellington refused to let the last time they faced United tie them down and exacted their revenge on United and former manager Rudan with a 3-1 win.

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Aggression and hostility were at extreme levels during the entirety of the match with the mood lifted even further when United lost key defender Brendan Hamill early to a suspected knee injury inside fifteen minutes. He was knocked to his knees during a contest with Wellington captain Steven Taylor.

Whether the ground quality at Mars Stadium was the real reason for Hamill’s injury is up in the air for debate.

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The VAR was nowhere to be found five minutes later when Jerry Skotadis and David Ball found themselves in a similar unfriendly situation: Skotadis was allowed to stay on the pitch on after a suspicious elbow into Ball during a contest for the ball.

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Despite three shots on target, the half remained goalless for United despite their best efforts. Their best chances came from Dylan Pierias and Max Burgess attempting to send rockets from just outside the box: both were cleanly collected by Stefan Marinovic.

Wellington refused to allow United to have an easy run and ran away with the lead in the 41st minute when David Ball found the back of the net after a graceful assist from Cameron Devlin who slipped past United’s defensive line.

The intensity did not dissipate in the second half and Wellington was not letting their lead go to waste, making it 2-0 shortly after the break.

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United captain Alessandro Diamanti lost possession of the ball, allowing Reno Piscopo to deflect the ball to Callum McCowatt who scored his first goal of the season.

With their lead doubled, Wellington shifted to a defensive structure to ensure they collected the three points, in doing so ending the match as an attacking spectacle for the majority of the second half.

With chances at a premium, Ulises Davila sealed the result with ten minutes to go, finding the net with a clean assist from fresh substitute Gary Hooper.

Diamanti gave United a consolation goal from the penalty spot in the 89th minute, but by that stage the result was a foregone conclusion as Wellington made it seven consecutive matches without defeat and simultaneously putting a halt on United’s three-game winning streak.

Western United FC 1 (Diamanti 89′)
Wellington Phoenix 3 
(Ball 41’, McCowatt 55’, Davila 80’)
Mars Stadium, Ballarat
Attendance: 5084
Referee: Shaun Evans
Assistant Referee 1: Anton Shchetinin
Assistant Referee 2: George Lakrindis
Fourth Official: Kate Jacewicz
VAR: Craig Zetter

Western United: 5-4-1
Filip KURTO (GK), Aaron CALVER, Brendan HAMILL, Andrew DURANTE, Dylan PIERIAS, Scott McDONALD, Besart BERISHA Connor PAIN, Alessandro DIAMANTI (c), Jerry SKOTADIS, Max BURGESS, Jonathan ASPROPOTAMITIS (11’) Dario JERTEC (63’) Valentino YUEL (87′)
Unused Subs: Ryan SCOTT (GK), Joshua Cavallo, Apostolos STAMATELOPOULOS, Kwabena Appiah-Kubi.

Wellington Phoenix: 2-4-4
Stefan MARINOVIC (GK), Luke DE VERE, Matti STEINMANN, Tim PAYNE, Reno PISCOPO, Cameron DEVLIN, David BALL, Ulises DAVILA, Liberato CACACE, Callum McCOWATT, Steven TAYLOR (c), Gary HOOPER (78’)
Unused Subs:
Oliver SAIL (GK), Liam McGING, Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI, Benjamin WAINE

Feature Image Credit: Cameron McIntosh

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Suzanna Telai
Football enthusiast and student journalist, covering Western United for the 2019/20 A-League season