Davila hits double figures as Phoenix respond to beat Jets
Ulises Davila netted his 10th Hyundai A-League goal as Wellington Phoenix bounced back to down Newcastle Jets, 2-1.
The Mexican danger man pounced from close range on 69 minutes to make it 10 goals in 15 matches, only three minutes after Abdiel Arroyo took advantage of poor defending to drag the rock bottom club back level at Sky Stadium.
Following a goalless first half which saw interim head coach Craig Deans’ visitors spurn chances to take the lead, Phoenix substitute Jaushua Sotirio broke the deadlock with his first touch after entering the field on 53 minutes.
Captain Nigel Boogaard – playing his first match since October – Angus Thurgate and Kaine Sheppard saw their late efforts denied by the heroics of Kiwi number one Stefan Marinovic as the Jets rallied but came up short.
Brandon Wilson made his debut in the Phoenix midfield as Ufuk Talay’s fourth-placed side return to winning ways after their club record nine-match unbeaten streak was ended last week by Brisbane Roar.
The Jets slipped to their fifth straight defeat in the Kiwi capital and remain four points adrift at the foot of the ladder, without a win in eight matches, with reports suggesting a new head coach will be appointed in the Hunter next week.
Ball tests former Phoenix shot-stopper Italiano
Newcastle skipper Boogaard made his return from an abductor injury, playing for the first time since Round 4, as Deans switched to a back three and Matt Millar drilled a shot into the ‘Nix side-netting on seven minutes as the Jets right wing-back bombed forward.
Left sider Bobby Burns flew forward and set up Abdiel Arroyo to fire over on 12 minutes as the Jets opened with energy and intensity. The hosts struggled to get a foothold until the returning David Ball forced a diving save from ex-Phoenix ‘keeper Lewis Italiano on 17 minutes. Eight minutes later, Newcastle suffered a blow when a knee injury ended Lachlan Jackson’s match early.
Jets on top as Hoffman and Millar fire off target
The visitors should have gone ahead on the half hour when Luke DeVere surrendered possession, allowing Millar to break away and put the ball on a plate for Hoffman. The 30-year-old blazed over from close range with the goal gaping, before Millar came even closer from a rifled shot from 25 yards out that beat Marinovic but flashed wide of the post on 41 minutes.
Sotirio cashes in with his first touch after coming on
Panama international Arroyo slammed a strike over on the brink of half-time as the teams went into the sheds with the Jets leading the shot count 12-4, but Phoenix came to life when Davila gave Newcastle a reminder of his danger. The Mexican's long-range effort whistled over Italiano's crossbar on 50 minutes.
The tide was changing when Sotirio was introduced for Callum McCowatt on 51 minutes and, 128 seconds later, Wellington were ahead. Davila collected Hooper’s pass and set the former Western Sydney speedster away. One touch later, Sotirio had his second goal for Phoenix and Talay’s masterstroke had made the difference.
Arroyo takes advantage of sloppy defending to level
The home side were living dangerously when they allowed Hoffman space to shoot, but his 65th-minute effort flew straight at Marinovic. Phoenix threw away their advantage moments later when Ball lost possession and Arroyo showed his superior finishing ability from 12 yards under pressure from two ‘Nix defenders.
Davila makes no mistake from close range
As the Jets' confidence was brimming, they were dealt a hammer blow three minutes later. Striking a half-cleared ball, substitute Alex Rufer saw his shot skew off Nikolai Topor-Stanley’s block and into the path of Davila, who calmly slotted in his 10th goal of the campaign.
Ball struck a firm effort at Italiano as Wellington aimed to kick the Jets while they were down, but Boogaard’s header gave Phoenix a scare on 77 minutes as Marinovic had to dive full-length the parry the ball away. Jets threw bodies forward in stoppage time with first Thurgate denied by Marinovic's reflexes, then the Phoenix keeper produced a stunning point-blank stop to block Sheppard's volley.
Newcastle Jets v Western United
Saturday, 1 February 2020
McDonald Jones Stadium
Kick-off: 5pm AEDT
Wellington Phoenix on bye