Wellington Phoenix’s long unbeaten run ended by Wanderers

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On a night where the Wellington Phoenix Women made history, the Phoenix Men’s historical unbeaten streak came to a bitter end in a 2-0 loss to Western Sydney Wanderers.

The Nix dominated most of the match but it was the Wanderers who were more clinical when it mattered, winning 2-0 and taking all three points.

Tomer Hemed made his former team suffer with a goal and John Koutroumbis doubled the lead late when Oliver Sail was forced up-field which left the goal wide open.

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It was slow going over the first ten minutes as neither team was able to trouble the other as goal-scoring opportunities were few and far between.

In the 16th minute, Reno Piscopo was cut in half by Western Sydney’s Thomas Aquilina and the 20-year-old received the first yellow of the game.

Just moments later Alex Rufer came extremely close to scoring his first-ever goal as the ball came flying into the box after a deflection. The Nix captain just missed the tap in as he stretched desperately for the ball.

Although chances were still rare for the men in yellow, Wellington controlled possession during the first 25 minutes and looked the better of the two sides as Western Sydney just looked flat and out of ideas.

In the 31st minute, it looked like the Nix had scored from a corner for the second week in a row as Josh Laws tapped the ball into the net after it fell to him from a deflected Hooper header. However, the flag went straight up for offside and after a quick look from VAR, the call of no goal was upheld.

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The 38th minute brought the best chance of the half for WSW as ex-Phoenix star Hemed fired a ball into the box where strikers were waiting but Wellington defended it well, clearing their lines quickly.

Only two minutes later Piscopo created yet another chance for his side, making a good run into the 18-yard-box. Harassed by a defender he launched a shot that flew just wide of the left post.

The sides headed into the break 0-0 and it was the Nix who looked the better of the two after one half of football.

The Phoenix started the second half much like the end of the first by creating early pressure, just missing out on shots on gaol as Western Sydney’s defence was able to scramble and survive.

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Nearing the hour mark, Gary Hooper had a chance for three goals in three games as he sprinted down the field with the ball at his feet. Just as he was about to let a shot loose Wanderers captain Rhys Williams made a brilliant defensive play, sliding to take the ball away from the Englishmen without giving away a penalty.

The Nix continued to apply pressure as young midfielder Ben Old looked to score his first ever goal in the A-League Men’s, firing a long shot that again flew just wide of goal. It was all Wellington at the hour mark.

But forget all about momentum as Hemed somehow found a way to strike in the 67th minute. Sail misread the ball from a free-kick and the ex-Nix striker was all of a sudden in the right place at the right time when he found the ball at his feet and the goal open. He quickly made the Nix suffer as he tapped it in.

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At first it was seemingly saved by a Nix defender on the line and the game went on, however, VAR stepped in and confirmed the ball had crossed the line and out of nowhere Western Sydney had a 1-0 lead.

The last 20 minutes were all about Western Sydney as the Nix were unable to fight back.

Carl Robinson’s men controlled the tempo and controlled the ball. The momentum swung in their direction and Wellington’s 13-game unbeaten streak finally came to a bitter end as they couldn’t find a way to tie the game up.

To make matters worse for Nix fans, the Wanderers made it 2-0 when Sail came up tp try and score from a last minute corner. After taking a few bounces the ball fell for Koutroumbis who sprinted the length of field and ran the ball into an open net.

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Wellington Phoenix: 0
Western Sydney Wanderers: 2 (Hemed 67′, Koutroumbis 92′) 

Stadium: WIN Stadium

Referee: Tim Danaskos
Assistant Referees: Lance Greenshields, Kearney Robinson
Fourth Offical: Kurt Ams

Wellington Phoenix: Oliver SAIL (GK), Callan ELLOIT, Tim PAYNE, Joshua LAWS, James MCGARRY, Alex RUFER (C), Clayton LEWIS (Ben WAINE 81′), Ben OLD, Reno PISCOPO, David BALL, Gary HOOPER

Unused subs: Alex PAULSEN (GK), Louis FENTON, Matthew BOZINOVSKI, Luka PRSO, Nicholas PENNINGTON, Oskar VAN HATTUM,

Western Sydney Wanderers: Tomas MEJIAS (GK), Rhys WILLIAMS (C), John KOUTROUMBIS, Thomas AQUILINA, Adama TRAORE, Steven UGARKOVIC, Terry ANTONIS, Jack RODWELL, Bernie IBINI-ISEI (Dimitri PETRATOS 73′), Keijiro OGAWA (Ramy NAJJARINE 73′), Tomer HEMED (Tate RUSSELL 93′)

Unused Subs: Daniel MARGUSH, Zygmunt GORDON, Tass MOURDOUKOUTAS, Mark NATTA

Feature Image Credit: Western Sydney Wanderers  

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Harry Bartle
Harry Bartle
Harry is a young Journalist based in Wellington. He will be covering the Wellington Phoenix during the 2021/22 season for the Football Sack and has a love hate relationship with Ulises Davila

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