Wellington leapfrog up the ladder thanks to Sotirio’s brace

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Coming into Campbelltown, it was Josh Sotirio who grabbed a brace as Wellington Phoenix launched themselves off the bottom of the table.

Both teams looked sharp early before Macarthur FC’s Ulises Davila had the best goalscoring attempt as he tried to go one up on his ex-team, however, his powerful shot from outside the box was straight at the returning Oli Sail.

Wellington were awarded a penalty in the ninth minute despite the appeals of Craig Noone, who argued he had not taken out Sam Sutton in the box. After the penalty was confirmed, Reno Piscopo was able to get on the board for the first time this season, calmly putting away the spot-kick to put his side up 1-0.

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Wellington then used the scoring momentum to build some quality attacks. Clayton Lewis was gifted a free shot on goal from outside the box in the 19th minute but his strong left-footed attempt flew just wide.

Sotirio was denied by the assistant referee in the 25th minute after he pounced on a  bobble by Bulls goalkeeper Filip Kurto. Sotirio quickly put the ball into the back of the net, but only as the offside flag was raised.

It only got worse for Sotirio as the 26-year-old then missed two clear opportunities on goal in back-to-back offensive sets for Wellington. Already in the driver’s seat, Wellington should have easily found themselves up two or three goals after 30 minutes of play.

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After having almost nothing to do since the first 10 minutes, Sail was finally called back into action. He went on to produce one of the greatest 15 seconds of goalkeeping this season, as the Kiwi made three consecutive saves to keep his side on top.

Early on in the second half Sotirio almost redeemed himself for his previous misses. After a rushed first touch, the striker then noticed Kurto was off his line, firing a long-range volley towards goal. His strike seemed certain for the back of the net before striking the right-hand post. It did not seem to be Sotirio’s day.

Just before the hour mark, Davila finally got off the mark for his new team by putting a shot away after a well-placed cross from Daniel De Silva. It was a clinical finish into the bottom corner by the Mexican, who punished his former team for a defensive mistake to equalise 1-1.

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In the 71st minute it did in fact become Sotirio’s day as he put Wellington on top 2-1. Using his speed to beat the defence, he just had Kurto to beat. The Polish goalkeeper did get a touch on the ball, however, the young forward’s strike was too strong and the ball soon bounced into the back of the net.

It only got better for Sotirio when he secured a brace just seven minutes later. Showing his quickness again, the striker beat the tried Macarthur defence with his speed, only this time his shot on goal was even better than his last, lifting the ball over Kurto who was left wondering what had just hit him and his team.

With two minutes to go and the game Wellington’s to lose, Sail again showed why he was the first choice keeper, making another diving save after a header from Bulls sub Jake Hollman.

With only a few minutes to go Wellington were then able to hold on, secure their second A-League win in a row and jump up five spots on the table. Meanwhile it was back to the drawing board for the Bulls who now sit fifth on the table.

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Wellington Phoenix: 3 (Piscopo 12′ Sotirio 71′ 78′)
Macarthur FC: 1 (Davila 58′)

Stadium: Campbelltown Stadium

Referee: Alex King

Wellington Phoenix: Oliver SAIL (GK), Tim PAYNE, Finn SURMAN (Louis FENTON 67′), Joshua LAWS, Sam Sutton, Alex RUFER (C) (Nicholas PENNINGTON 89′), Clayton LEWIS, Gael SANDOVAL (Ben OLD 89′), Reno PISCOPO, David BALL (Ben WAINE 90′), Jaushua SOTIRIO (Oskar VAN HATTUM 89′)

Unused subs: Alex PUALSON (GK), George OTT,

Macarthur: Filip KURTO (GK), Tomislav USKOK, Aleksandar JOVANOVIC (Adrian MARIAPPA 45′), Aleksandar ŠUŠNJAR, Moudi NAJJAR, Daniel DE SILVA, Charles M’MOMBWA (Jordon MUTCH 45), Ulises DÁVILA (C) (Jake HOLLMAN 64′), Craig NOONE (Tommy OAR 76′), Lachlan ROSE, Apostolos GIANNOU (Al Hassan TOURE 64′)

Unused subs: Nicholas SUMAN (GK), James MEREDITH,

Feature image credit: Speed Media 

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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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