Wellington Phoenix secure much needed win over Western United

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On a cloudy night in Wollongong it was the Wellington Phoenix imports who stole the show during a much needed 2-1 win against Western United at WIN Stadium.

Wellington looked bright early on but were unable to create any real chances during the first five minutes before Tomoki Imai got the first chance on goal for United, however, his header was easily saved by Alex Paulson.

In the 17th minute, Gael Sandoval introduced himself to the A-League in the best way possible, scoring the first goal of the match. After a defensive mistake by United Gary Hooper pounced on the ball, flicking it to the new import who stood unmarked in the box. The Mexican then calmly slotted the ball into the bottom corner, securing his first goal in Wellington colors.

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10 minutes later Alessandro Diamanti looked to get his team back in the game, striking the ball towards goal from outside the box not once but twice. The Italian hit the two shots cleanly but just missed the target on both occasions.

Paulson was called into action again for Wellington in the 31st minute after Lachie Wales fired a shot towards the near post. The young keeper made a fantastic diving save as Western United seemingly started swinging the momentum in their direction.

Just a few minutes later Gary Hooper turned the momentum straight back towards Wellington scoring their second in the 35th minute. Alex Rufer feed a wonderful ball into the box where the Englishmen used his dribble to beat the first defender. Hooper then slid a perfectly taken shot into the bottom corner to double the Nix lead.

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United should have scored just before the half when the ball wasn’t cleared in the box by Wellington. Aleksandar Prijović was able to take a shot that caught the young Nix keeper by surprise, but at the last moment, he was again able to make a terrific diving save to allow Wellington to take a 2-0 lead into the break.

The second half began with Western United looking to get back into game, as they created more of the half-chances early on in the second 45, but they were unable to trouble Paulson.

Lachie Wales looked the most likely to get United on the board at the hour mark when his powerful shot on goal was blocked by Josh Laws.

Just minutes later Alessandro Diamanti should have again put his side on the scoresheet when he was gifted a free volley in the box. His strike on the ball seemed certain for goal but again it somehow flew just wide.

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Gary Hooper put the ball in the back of the net in the 65th minute to put Wellington up 3-0 but was quickly called offside by an assistant referee. The official was found to have made the correct call after a quick check by VAR.

Even with a 2-0 lead and just 15 minutes on the clock, Wellington still seemed set on scoring another as they kept attacking the United defence. Jamie Young made an outstanding save in the 79th minute to keep his side alive after a rocket of a shot by Nix substitution Jaushua Sotirio.

Tomoki Imai was handed a red card in the final minutes of the match after holding Ben Waine back from a clear goal scoring opportunity. However it was Steven Lustica who actually found the back of the net after an impressive strike, giving Western United hope in the dying moments.

But to the delight of Wellington fans the Nix were able to hold on and secure a deserved three points with a 2-1 win over a valiant Western United side.

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Wellington Phoenix: 2 (Sandoval 17′ Hooper 35′)
Central Coast Mariners: 1  (Lustica 90+3′) 

Stadium: WIN Stadium

Referee: Shawn Evans

Wellington Phoenix: Alex PUALSON (GK), Louis FENTON, Tim PAYNE, Joshua LAWS, Sam Sutton, Alex RUFER (C), Clayton LEWIS (Nicholas PENNINGTON 85′), Gael SANDOVAL (Jaushua SOTIRIO 64′), Reno PISCOPO (Ben WAINE 76′), David BALL, Gary HOOPER

Unused subs: Henry GRAY (GK), Callan ELLOIT, Ben OLD, Finn SURMAN

Western United: Jamie YOUNG (GK), Benjamin GARUCCIO, Léo LACROIX (Nicolas MILANOVIC 87′), Tomoki IMAI, Joshua RISDON, Neil KILKENNY, Steven LUSTICA, Connor PAIN (Christian THEOHAROUS 72′), Alessandro DIAMANTI (C) (Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY 87′), Lachlan WALES (Dylan PIERIAS 61′), Aleksandar PRIJOVIC (Dylan WENZEL-HALLS 72′)

Unused subs: Ryan SCOTT (GK), Jerry SKOTADIS,

Feature image credit: Cameron Mclntosh 

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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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