Phoenix, Glory share spoils

The Wellington Phoenix played out an intense and entertaining 1-1 draw with Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.

The Wellington Phoenix played out an intense and entertaining 1-1 draw with Perth Glory at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.

Both sides started cautiously, with the knowledge that only a win would enhance their respective chances of a top-four spot.

The Phoenix slowly began to gain some ascendancy over the visitors, but failed to show any sort of penetration in the final third.

After a chanceless first 15 minutes, the first semblance of sight on goal came the Phoenix's way.

A mazy run by Leo Bertos saw the winger whip in a useful cross that was met by Shane Smeltz. The ball narrowly missed the target, but the linesman had flagged a foul against the Phoenix striker.

Bertos - playing against his former club - began stamping his authority on the game, and created another chance shortly after.

He turned Glory defender Naum Sekulovski inside out before hitting a fierce drive from the edge of the 18-yard box that Perth goalkeeper Tando Velaphi did well to hold.

Only moments later Bertos again caused havoc for the visitors with a neat run and cross that Tim Brown wasn't able to connect cleanly with.

The best chance of the half came for the home team on 31 minutes, with Smeltz managing to evade several Perth players before hitting a thunderbolt from 20 yards that only narrowly went the wrong side of the post.

However, neither side was able to break the deadlock and the scores were level going into the break.

Whatever was said at half-time did the trick, as the two sides came out firing in the second period as both teams lifted the tempo and threw men forward.

Perth had the first real chance of the half on 51 minutes, following some sustained pressure on the home team.

A loose ball that wasn't cleared successfully fell invitingly to Nikita Rukavytsya with the Australian International smashing the ball into the crossbar.

Just a minute later, it was the Phoenix's turn to hit the bar in what has to go down as the miss of the season from Shane Smeltz.

Sekulovski hit a suicidal backpass into his own box, leaving Smeltz in a one-on-one situation with Velaphi but the Perth stopper was able to partially glove the ball, leaving Smeltz with an open goal from eight yards.

Somehow, he was only able to hit it into the crossbar, in a scenario where it was easier to score than miss the target.

The Phoenix had another good chance shortly afterward, with Michael Ferrante hitting a stinging drive that Velaphi did well to save, following a lucky break of the ball off referee Strebre Delovski on 63 minutes.

It was the Glory who made the most of their chances however, and they broke the deadlock on 75 minutes through Eugene Dadi.

The big Ivorian cashed in on some loose defending as he volleyed home a partially cleared cross from inside the Phoenix box.

Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert brought on Daniel Cortes, and the Brazilian's impact was immediate.

After an incisive run he played a clever one-two with Bertos to open some space inside the Perth goalbox. His curling shot was brilliantly palmed away by Velaphi, but the rebound broke for Tim Brown who nodded home to level the scores on 83 minutes.

Both sides then threw men forward in an effort to win the match, and Bertos very nearly sealed it for the home side.

A rasping 20-yard drive was tipped onto the bar by another impressive Velaphi save, to deny the Phoenix the spoils in the 87th minute.

Overall, a draw was a fair result, but not one that helps either side in their quest for a finals spot.

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Dadi 75') Perth Glory 1 (Brown 83')