Hyundai A-League Weekend Wrap

Wellington Phoenix is rising and for the first time since the Hyundai A-League started in 2005, a New Zealand-based franchise

Wellington Phoenix is rising and for the first time since the Hyundai A-League started in 2005, a New Zealand-based franchise is a genuine chance of making the finals. Their shock 2-1 win over leaders Melbourne Victory made it three straight wins and they now only sit outside the top four on goal difference. It was a weekend for the great escape-s with both Central Coast and Adelaide United both scoring dramatic late, late goals to earn draws, while Queensland and Sydney also fought out a tough draw.

Results - Round 12 WELLINGTON PHOENIX 2 beat Melbourne Victory 1 Sydney FC 1 drew Queensland Roar 1 Perth Glory 2 drew Central Coast Mariners 2 Newcastle Jets 1 drew Adelaide United 1

Game Wraps

Wellington Phoenix showed their new found mettle with a come from behind 2-1 win over Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium. Melbourne had the early running with several attempts at goal testing Phoenix keeper Mark Paston and it was no surprise they took the lead in the 22nd minute, Danny Allsopp first to react and poke home after Ney Fabiano-s header hit the post. But Phoenix-s new resolve served them well, when just a minute later it was all even again. Tim Brown volleying home after a free kick was cleared out to him near the edge of the box. Buoyed by the goal Phoenix lifted and have several good opportunities to extend the lead, before Shane Smeltz scored a screamer on 58 minutes. Brilliantly dispatching the attention of Michael Thwaite with a brilliant turn, Smeltz unleashed a fierce drive from 20 yards into the top corner. Both sides traded chances to add to their tallies in the final half hour, but Phoenix managed to hang on for a valuable win.

Both Queensland and Sydney FC will rue missed opportunities, as they battled to a 1-1 draw at the Sydney Football Stadium. Queensland dominated the opening hour of the game and had a 1-0 lead thanks to a 15th minute goal from Matt McKay, but they failed to kill the game off and paid for it. Sydney got back into the match against the run of play when Steve Corica got a knee onto Robbie Middleby-s cross and from then on Sydney had enough chances of their own to think they could have got the three points. McKay opened the scoring, capitalising on poor work by Ivan Necevski, who failed to gather Tahj Minniecon-s shot, McKay quick to react and steer home. Queensland looked the hungrier and more likely to score again, but it was Sydney who grabbed an equaliser in the 64th minute and this noticeably lifted the home team. Mark Bridge almost had a quick second for Sydney, his header hitting the crossbar, while Mitch Nichols went close for Queensland with a header of his own late in the match.

Perth Glory hopes of getting back into finals contention suffered a cruel blow at Members Equity Stadium, with Sasho Petrovski equalising for Central Coast Mariners with almost the last kick of the match. Glory looked to have secured a deserved win thanks to a second half double by Nikita Rukavytsya, but Petrovski came off the bench and was hand to slide in and guide his shot home from Dylan Macallister-s mishit shot and earn a ten-men Mariners a point. The Mariners had taken the lead on the half hour when Mile Jedinak scored yet another sensational goal from a free kick and looked to be on course to hand Perth their first home defeat in four games. But a fired up home side came out breathing fire in the second half and when Rukavytsya used his pace to outsprint Nigel Boogaard and finish superbly past Danny Vukovic, it was game on. Seven minutes later Rukavytsya played one-two-s with firstly Adrian Trinidad and then Eugene Dadi; the young striker finishing again with deadly efficiency to put Perth ahead. Trinidad was full of verve and enterprise and was unlucky not to add his name to the scorers list, cutting inside Brad Porter and hitting his shot against the near post; the ball travelling agonisingly across the face of goal. The Mariners then faced the final few minutes a man down when an injured Boogaard made a reckless challenge on Trinidad from behind, but as we have seen so many times this season their resilience is strong and they managed to equalise through Petrovski-s late strike.

It was a case of deja vu in the final match of the round at EnergyAustralia Stadium, with Saso Ognenovski producing an equalising goal with almost the last kick or header in this case of the game. Just like the previous evening, the home side will wonder how they let three points slip away. Newcastle, who started the match in last place on the ladder, looked on course for an upset win over Adelaide, with Matt Thompson-s 56th minute strike looking enough to get his home side home. But with the match into its third minute of injury time, Paul Reid-s long free kick to the edge of the box was headed home by Ognenovski, with Jets keeper Ante Covic hopelessly stranded after initially coming off his goal line to get the free kick. The first half was devoid of major goalmouth action, with the best chance coming in the dying seconds of the half; Marko Jesic-s snap shot from 15 yards, going wide of the post. The Jets started the second half the stronger with Jason Naidovski picking up a poor back heel by Angelo Costanzo; instantly passing to Thompson, who took responsibility and scored off the near post. The game opened up after this with both sides trading chances, Adelaide captain Travis Dodd denied by two great saves in succession by Covic. It was Adelaide though that had the last say with Ognenovski-s last gasp goal to send the Jets supporters- home somewhat shell-shocked they hadn-t won.

Weekend Goals Tally: 11

Card Count: 14 yellows - 1 red

Attendance/Average: 30,092 / 7,523

Goal of the Week Shane Smeltz has never been known for scoring goals from outside of the penalty box, but on Friday night he added that to his arsenal and what a goal it was. Taking a pass with his back to goal, he turned Thwaite 30 yards out, advanced 10 yards, and with the Victory defence holding off, curled a delightful shot into the top corner. Not just Goal of the Week, but a genuine contender for Goal of the Season.

Player of the Week His talents are just starting to flourish on a consistent basis and Nikita Rukavytsya showed just what talents he has to offer on Saturday night with a terrific double. The first goal was all about his pace and improved finishing, while the second was about his ability to create and link with teammates in and around the box. He was a constant threat to the Mariners generally solid defence and should have had a hat-trick.

One to Watch Another young player blooded by Gary Van Egmond this season was finally given his chance on Sunday. Teenager Jason Naidovski is strongly built striker, who has plied his trade successfully at the Australian Institute of Sport. Coming in for the suspended Joel Griffiths, he might not have scored, but he harassed the Adelaide defenders all game and it was his persistence that set up Matt Thompson-s goal for the Jets.

Leading Goalscorers 9 - Shane Smeltz (WP) 8 - Matt Simon (CCM), Nikita Rukavytsya (PG), 7 - Charlie Miller (QR), Danny Allsopp (MV) 6 -Travis Dodd (AU), 5 - Cristiano (AU), Joel Griffiths (NJ), Eugene Dadi (PG), Archie Thompson (MV), Mile Jedinak (CCM), Sasho Petrovski (CCM)