Official Player Websites Subscribe - Free Newsletter

Sports News First

A-League wins for Heart, Phoenix

By AAP .
9 February 2014 11:29PM EST

THE Wellington Phoenix continues to emerge as an A-League challenger beating Newcastle 3-2 on Sunday with Melbourne Heart also downing Perth Glory 2-1 in Albury.

Wellington increased Newcastle's winless run to seven games and moved into the A-League top six on Sunday with a 3-2 victory at Hunter Stadium.

Phoenix moved to sixth place on 23 points with the victory which left the Jets second last on 20 points after 18 rounds.

Down 2-1 at halftime, Newcastle equalised inside the first minute after the break when Craig Goodwin scored his second goal. The left winger cut past his marker and struck a smart shot inside the far post with his non-preferred right foot.

But substitute Jason Hicks put the visitors back in front in the 71st minute when he sent two defenders the wrong way before scoring with a well-placed left-foot strike.

In the first half, Wellington created the better chances before Carlos Hernandez made the Jets pay for poor work, with and without the ball, in the 21st minute.

After a sloppy turnover near halfway, Newcastle gave Hernandez too much space close to goal before the Costa Rican wrong-footed two defenders to set up a low, right-foot shot inside the left post.

The Jets, who were without injured marquee man Emile Heskey and recruit David Carney, lost Nick Ward to injury two minutes later but hit back on the 25-minute mark when Goodwin rifled home a left-foot shot after smart work from Zenon Caravella.

After pouncing on a loose ball, Caravella ran towards goal before laying off for a charging Goodwin on the left side.

Hernandez turned provider in the 33rd minute when he passed to Stein Huysegems, whose first touch gave him space and time to bury a low, left-foot strike inside the right post.

Huysegems, the equal leading scorer in the league, and Hernandez were a regular threat to the Jets, who turned over too much ball and were caught flat-footed in defence on several occasions.

Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick praised his side's effort in the hot conditions and their attacking mentality.

Wellington have scored 15 goals in their past six games and Merrick believes that momentum and attitude could keep them in the top six.

"We had three shots and a cross that was mishit inside one minute forty, and our first shot was at nine seconds," Merrick said. "The mentality I'm trying to instil in the boys is to start trying to score goals and, in the 93rd minute, see if you can score another one, and that's hitting home.

"It cost us in the first 10 rounds ... but if we get that mentality right, we'll cause problems for any team."

Jets interim coach Clayton Zane was at a loss to explain his side's lacklustre start and said he needed hungry players for the remaining nine rounds.

"We had such tremendous support against Western Sydney last week (in a 2-2 draw), and I said to the boys at halftime: we're the ones that need to create the atmosphere," Zane said.

"You can't expect to turn up and let the fans lead the way. It starts on the park.

"We were just so slow out of the blocks today.

"Players and coaches get paid good money, and you need to turn up.

"It's a bit of a lesson for us and a hard one to take because this was an important game to get on that road to making that top six."

Zane expected to have Heskey back on board next week but said Andrew Hoole would be suspended on yellow card accumulation and Ward was unlikely due to a knee injury.

David Williams provided Melbourne Heart's winner on Sunday for the second straight week in the hottest match in A-League history.

Williams pounced with seven minutes remaining and the scores tied at 1-1 after Patrick Kisnorbo's 51st-minute header and Steven McGarry's close-range equaliser.

With temperatures surging above 40 degrees, and the match already postponed by two hours to avoid the sun's harshest rays, there was conjecture as to whether the game would even proceed.

The all-important Wet Bulb Globe Temperature measure read 30 degrees at 4pm (AEDT) and had only dropped to 29.4 by 5pm; 1.4 degrees above when the league's extreme heat policy would have kicked in.

That meant the implementation of two drinks breaks during a subdued first half, when the match began at a glacial pace as players struggled to keep up.

The Heart's best chance of the opening period came when an errant backpass fell to Harry Kewell some distance from goal, He inexplicably tried to chip the keeper instead of dribbling closer.

His effort left many in the 7000-strong crowd confused.

A drinks break later, Iain Ramsay forced Danny Vukovic into a one-handed save from long distance, with Jonatan Germano's cheeky near-post effort from the corner also saved.

Jacob Burns provided Perth's only first-half shot of purpose in injury time, shooting over from Shane Smeltz's cutback.

On the touchline, Perth coach Kenny Lowe had the look of a man who resented taking his team to Albury, in keeping with his pre-match comments that playing in the heat was avoidable.

Perth seemed to have set out for a 0-0 result but their ambition was crushed after 51 minutes when Kisnorbo soared highest from Mate Dugandzic's corner.

With the Heart well worthy of their lead, it appeared Glory would spoil their day out in the country in the 73rd minute when a header from a Glory corner was cleared off the line by Aziz Behich, only for McGarry to pounce and equalise.

But to the relief of the travelling Heart fans, substitute Williams, who scored a last-minute winner against Sydney FC last week, again came up with a late winner for a 2-1 victory.

Played through by Ben Garuccio, Williams had his initial effort saved by Vukovic but scored with a header past the backtracking William Gallas.

Your view first

Add your comment... Comments (0)