Wellington Phoenix’s defence not to be taken lightly this campaign

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Wellington Phoenix played 65 minutes with 10 men and were looking set to win until a late equaliser by Adelaide United on Sunday denied the hosts what would have been a remarkable result.

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Despite a dominant Adelaide performance, Wellington showed that you can still perform even with a man down – playing better than they did with 11 on the park, though Adelaide left the capital with a point.

Ufuk Talay was happy with the performance shown by his 10-man side.

 

“Disappointed to have conceded in the way we did,” Talay said. 

“Very pleased with the boys, I think we nearly played the perfect half.

“We spoke about it at half-time about if we get the opportunity on the counter, can we capitalise on it and we did on one of the opportunities we created.” 

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So what was the nearly perfect half? 

Wellington played the entire second-half with a man down after Brazilian attacker Yan Sasse was off for an early shower 25 minutes into the game. 

With Adelaide controlling most of the first-half and Wellington not having too much time on the ball themselves, the second-half was an opportunity to reset and go again. 

“For me, I just want to talk about our players,” Talay said.

“I think our players did a fantastic job for a long period of time. We knew we weren’t going to have the ball for a long periods of time.

 

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As soon as Sasse was red carded, the Phoenix shifted from an attacking mindset to a defensive one, defending for the rest of the first-half. 

The second-half allowed the Nix a bit more of the ball and to create more chances after only having a few in the first. 

The backline for Wellington was strong with Scott Wooton and Tim Payne putting in a solid shift, with goalkeeper Oli Sail able to back it up with some fine saves. 

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There were more attacking periods from the Phoenix in the second 45 with Oskar Zawada gaining confidence the more he got the ball. Kosta Barbarouses was pressing well and Ben Waine provided the impact off the bench along with fellow substitutes Clayton Lewis and Ben Old. 

Even though Talay was disappointed about the late equaliser, he was proud of the efforts from his team.

It looks to be a change in the Phoenix’s defence this season, something we haven’t seen in a while, and teams may now struggle to score against them.

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Nick Jensen
Nick Jensen
Journalism Student at Massey University Wellington and a passionate Football Fan, covering the Wellington Phoenix Men and Women for the 2022/23 season.

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