A-League Women mid-season report card: Wellington Phoenix

-

Midway through the A-League Women season, let’s dive into how it has shaped up for the competition’s newest team, Wellington Phoenix.

Embed from Getty Images

Semester Summery…

The Phoenix entered their first-ever season as clear favorites for the wooden spoon and unfortunately for the young side, this has become a reality during their first six games of A-League football.

They sit at the bottom of the table after suffering five losses and a single draw. They also hold a disappointing -17 goal differential and have been on the end of some heavy losses such as a 5-0 defeat against Sydney FC.

However, this season was never going to be all about winning for the youthful side, who can find positives in the experience they have gained playing at the top level. Although they would love for the quality of their performances to improve, let’s not forget they are in the midst of a development season.

Embed from Getty Images

Areas of excellence…

Fight.

There haven’t been too many positives for Wellington, but one thing they have never done is give up. Credit for this can go to both the players and their first-year coach Gemma Lewis, who always pushes her team to fight on.

This will to never give up, especially showed during their 5-0 loss to Sydney FC in round five when Wellington headed into half-time already down five goals. Against the top team in the league and with a half of football to play, the Nix could have easily dropped their heads and let another barrage of goals in.

However, this was not the case at all as the side not only came out of the break playing at a higher level, but they were also able to stop the Sky Blues from scoring again.

Fight has been a bright spot for the Phoenix and although it doesn’t add up to points, it  can’t be taught and is something that will pay off in future years when the team’s skills develop.

Embed from Getty Images

Areas in need of improvement…

Passing and scoring.

The quality of Wellington’s defence has been inconsistent, however, their inability to score and pass the ball have been their most disappointing areas.

The young side has only found the back of the net once in six games and this isn’t due to bad luck. With only a handful of shots on target, Wellington haven’t really looked likely to add to their scoring total.

Part of the reason the Nix have been unable to create goal-scoring opportunities is their ineffectiveness passing the ball. Their highest pass percentage in a game is just 68% and it is a rare sight if they are able to string more than 10 passes together.

Poor passing has also lead to costly mistakes which have allowed other teams to find the back of the net against the Nix. In their most recent game, a poor attempted header back to keeper Lily Alfeld meant that Melbourne City striker Hannah Wilkinson was easily able to put her team up 2-0.

Embed from Getty Images

Top student…

Kate Taylor

At just 18, Taylor was extremely surprised when she was appointed the vice-captain for Wellington, the first professional side she has ever played for. But not only has her leadership been on full display during the first half of the season, so has her skill and effort in defence.

Yes, the Phoenix have conceded plenty of goals this year, but plenty of chances have also been dashed by the young centre-back. Taylor has found a unique balance of defending aggressively while also remaining disciplined. She has only gived away one foul in six games and is never afraid to put her body on the line.

Her defensive skills were on display just a few days ago when her side played Melbourne City. She was tasked with the challenge of marking Hannah Wilkinson. As mentioned, Wilkinson was able to get on the scoresheet but this wasn’t due to Taylor, who did a fantastic job of locking down the league’s top striker for much of the game.

Embed from Getty Images

Needs improvement…

Kelli Brown

Kelli Brown is only 20, so there is by no means any expectation that she should be one of the top strikers in the league. However, she was signed by the Nix for her terrific ability to put chances away, something she has been unable to do so far.

Although these chances have been few and far between, Brown hasn’t been able to trouble any goalkeepers yet, with just a single shot on target in the four games she has started. The young forward would probably be the first to say that she should be doing better when on goal. 

Unfortunately, Brown has had to deal with a couple of injuries already, but Nix fans will be hoping the young forward is be able to find some goalscoring form in the second half of the season.

Embed from Getty Images

Grade…

D+

Outlook…

The Nix won’t threaten the top four this season and I have already made the claim they will go winless this year. But as coach Lewis has already stated, this is well and truly a development season for the young Kiwi side.

Although they won’t get a taste of finals football and they will struggle to even get in the win column, the value and experience they gain during this season will show in years to come.

In the meantime, the Phoenix need to continue to fight hard in every game they play. Any match in which they can remain competitive until the final whistle should be seen as a victory for the young and inexperienced side.

Embed from Getty Images

Feature Image Credit: Speed Media 

Enjoy this content? Support The Football Sack

Due in part to COVID and lack of current sponsorship we are at risk of not having the funds to continue running The Football Sack. If you enjoy our content and support our work in training talented young writers, please support us with a donation. If every reader contributed just $3, our funding would be covered for over ten years.

DONATE

Learn with us

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

Latest Articles

Love your football?
Subscribe to our weekly football wrap. During the season we'll send you all the week's football action straight to your inbox.
* indicates required