Wellington end Newcastle's unbeaten run to climb off the foot of A-League table
Two goals on either side of half-time helped Wellington Phoenix move above Melbourne Victory at the bottom of the A-League table with a 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets at McDonald Jones Stadium on Sunday night.
The result ended Wellington's four-game winless streak as the New Zealand outfit clinched a first clean sheet of the season against the Jets who saw their unbeaten run of five A-League games come to an end.
The Jets came into the contest on the back of three consecutive clean sheets, but conceded for the first time in almost six hours of play when David Ball's 22nd-minute strike took a telling deflection off Jets captain Nigel Boogaard, leaving Jack Duncan no chance of stopping the ball as it trickled into the back of the net.
The Phoenix opener came off the back of a heavy attacking assault from the hosts, as Roy O'Donovan failed to add to the four goals scored in his last six outings against the visiting side.
Newcastle were given a mountain to climb early in the second half when Ben Waine fired a well-placed shot from outside the box along the deck toward the bottom left corner, which snuck past Duncan to give Wellington a commanding lead.
Phoenix stopper Oliver Sail performed valiantly as he persevered to clinch his first A-League clean sheet in a third successive start ahead of Stefan Marinovic for Ufuk Talay's side. A strong stop to keep a diving Valentino Yuel header away from goal in the minutes leading up to Waine's sealing strike ensured Sail's contribution was key to Wellington's form-altering win.
A late VAR check for a lingering boot from Nicolai Topor-Stanley in a tangle with Ball was waved away before the final whistle blew on six minutes of added time, as the Phoenix back above Melbourne Victory who sit in 12th place on the A-League table.
The Jets made all the early running as O'Donovan found his way into a number of dangerous positions without piercing Sail's net.
Through one-on-one with the Phoenix stopper, O'Donovan stumbled his way into the box before shooting into the outrushing goalkeeper, and Valentino Yuel couldn't find the finish on the follow up.
Luka Prso fed O'Donovan in just a minute later with a curling ball into the box but the Jets striker could only header over the bar.
Wellington were under constant pressure as Matt Millar joined the Jets forwards in threatening in and around Wellington's defensive box. The galloping full-back created a chance for O'Donovan down the byline to play a cross into Yuel's feet as he tore toward the six-yard box but Liam McGing's intervention sent the ball out for a corner, when Nicolai Topor-Stanley came to the fore.
Two chances fell to the Newcastle defender in quick succession from the corner from Steven Ugarkovic. Topor-Stanley saw his opportunity at the back post stifled out by Sail, then headed wide of the opposite post in the aftermath when Angus Thurgate collected the ball and laid another dangerous cross into the box.
Newcastle had nothing to show for their dominance, which made it all the more cruel for the hosts as they watched Wellington take the lead through Ball's heavily deflected shot off the leg of Boogaard.
Ugarkovic sent a hopeful strike from range toward Sail which travelled from distance just past the left-hand upright in yet another nearly-moment throughout Newcastle's frustrating first half.
The fortunes of the hosts weren't to improve throughout the opening stages of the second stanza. Yuel's athletic, diving header from Topor-Stanley's cross was angled perfectly toward goal but Sail's stellar shift in between the sticks for the visitors went on as he leapt to his right to tip the ball around his post.
Much to their disbelief the Jets remained goalless. Perhaps sensing the hosts were in for an off night Wellington bombed forward in search for a second, and found it through a long-range strike from Ben Waine. The 19-year-old benefited off Johnny Koutroumbis' loose touch after an invasive forward pass from Clayton Lewis to lash a low shot past Duncan into the bottom left corner.
Adelaide United v Newcastle Jets
Friday, March 5 2021
Kick-off: 7.35pm AEDT
Wellington Phoenix v Perth Glory
Sunday, March 7 2021
Kick-off: 4.05pm AEDT
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