Otago Daily Times
Phoenix dominates but fails to convert
AUCKLAND: The Wellington Phoenix has been dealt a double suckerpunch by the Newcastle Jets, losing its ALeague clash 21 at WIN Stadium in Wollongong.
Despite dominating possession and enjoying a clutch of chances against its previously pointless opponents, the Phoenix was hit twice on the counterattack before a late penalty gave it hope.
Valentino Yu, with a third goal in three games, and Roy O’Donovan, with a 50th career ALeague strike, were the beneficiaries of quick Newcastle breaks to put their side 20 ahead.
With seven minutes remaining, Wellington midfielder Cameron Devlin was brought down in the penalty area, allowing Ulises Davila to convert from the spot.
But despite its best efforts, Wellington could not find an equaliser and remains without a win through its first three games of the new season, while the Jets snapped their own fourmatch losing streak.
Coach Ufuk Talay made two changes to his starting side, with Matt Ridenton replacing suspended defensive midfielder Alex Rufer and Jaushua Sotirio curiously preferred to Clayton Lewis — a standout in the last game — in attack.
In the opening minutes, Israeli striker Tomer Hemed had appeals for a penalty waved away after he kicked the back of Jets defender Nigel Boogaard’s legs in the act of shooting.
Shortly afterwards, Yuel was put through by O’Donovan, eluded the Wellington defence and produced a sublime rightfooted finish across Phoenix goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and in off the far post.
Wellington then had two glorious chances to equalise, with Newcastle goalkeeper Jack Duncan producing a brilliant save to deny Luke DeVere’s powerful header from a leftwing corner and Davila crashing a leftfooted drive from outside the penalty area against the post and away to safety.
The Phoenix continued to dominate possession but with the visitors holding firm, it was reduced to longrange efforts which either flew wide of the goalframe or were comfortably dealt with by Duncan.
Shortly after the break the Phoenix hit the woodwork for a second time, David Ball meeting Davila’s rightwing corner and agonisingly guiding his header against the far post.
The Jets then punished Wellington through a second counterattacking move as Steven Ugarkovic threaded a pass into the path of the marauding O’Donovan, who coolly slotted past the advancing Marinovic.
At 20 down, Wellington threw bodies forward in search of a way back into the game, but was denied by wayward finishing, a packed Jets defence and good goalkeeping from Duncan until Davila’s late consolation.
The Phoenix next face the Central Coast Mariners in Gosford on Sunday. — The New Zealand Herald