Perth survive late fight-back from undermanned Phoenix

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Perth Glory survived a second-half scare to defeat Wellington Phoenix 3-2 in a hostile encounter that saw nine yellow cards, including two for Phoenix defender Timothy Payne.

A dewy night and some poor skills made for difficult viewing in the first half hour. Ball playing errors from Perth defenders made life tricky for their own midfielders who were forced to track back numerous times.

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The huge number of loose balls also meant four players were booked in the first half. Cameron Devlin, Ulises Davila and Payne were all booked for the Phoenix, as was Jake Brimmer for Perth.

Referee Adam Kersey was busy in the first half but the biggest headaches belonged to Alex Rufer who was caught in an ugly sandwich between Tomislav Mrcela and a goalpost.

Perth began to create paths through the Wellington midfield later in the half and changed the game in a matter of minutes before half-time when Mrcela headed home from his side’s fifth corner of the night.

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Mrcela’s effort was doubled by the man who assisted the first goal. A Bruno Fornaroli ball intended for Joel Chianese was allowed to roll through to Nic D’Agostino, who sent Stefan Marinovic the wrong way and scored his second goal in purple.

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D’Agostino scored the first goal of the second half, converting a neatly whipped ball from Soobeom Kim. His third goal in two starts for the club is making a case for him being the country’s most in-form footballer.

Wellington walked a tight rope in the second half with Davila and Payne both conceding fouls for over-zealous challenges despite already being in the book.

They did eventually get some reward for their effort in the form of a consolation goal for substitute Gary Hooper, a good contested header from a Payne cross.

Payne was sent off just two minutes later when a late and unnecessary push on D’Agostino earned him a second yellow.

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Down to just ten men, Phoenix continued to put pressure on their opponents and even forced a defensive lapse that allowed Hooper to turn Gregory Wuthrich inside out and score his second goal with 25 minutes remaining.

Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay was also issued a yellow card, as was another of his assistants, bringing the game total to nine.

Perth put the game beyond in the last minute when stand-in captain Fornaroli hit a stunning goal from well outside the box.

Perth Glory: 4 (Mrcela 42′, D’Agostino 45′ 54’, Fornaroli 89’)
Wellington Phoenix: 2 (Hooper 68’, Hooper 75’)

HBF Park
Attendance: 7248
Referee: Adam Kersey
Assistant Referees: Josh Mannella, Arvin Shanmuganathan
Fourth Official: Shane Skinner

Perth Glory: Liam REDDY (GK), Alex GRANT, Gregory WUTHRICH, Ivan FRANJIC (Tarek ELRICH 77’), Joel CHIANESE, Bruno FORNAROLI, Soobeom KIM (James MEREDITH 68’), Tomislav MRCELA, Nicholas D’AGOSTINO, Jake BRIMMER (Kristian POPOVIC 72’), Neil KILKENNY

Unused subs: Tando VELAPHI (GK), Vince LIA, Dane INGHAM, Gabriel POPOVIC,

Wellington Phoenix Stefan MARINOVIC (GK), Luke De Vere, Timothy PAYNE, Reno PISCOPO (Callum MCCOWATT, Cameron DEVLIN, David BALL, Ulises Alejandro Davila PLASCENCIA, Jaushua SOTIRIO (Gary HOOPER 56’), Liberato CACACE, Alex RUFER (Te Atawhai HUDSON-WIHONGI 72’), Steven TAYLOR

Unused subs: Brandon WILSON, Oliver SAIL (GK), Sam SUTTON

Feature Image Credit: Vision Inspired Photography

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