Phoenix storm into top six after impressive win over Western United
Wellington Phoenix cruised into the Hyundai A-League top six after an impressive 3-1 win over Western United on Saturday afternoon.
A poacher's effort from David Ball, Callum McCowatt's first Hyundai A-League goal and another strike from Ulises Davila helped the New Zealanders secure a vital away win and extend their unbeaten run to seven matches.
United scored a late consolation via Alessandro Diamanti's spot-kick after Steven Taylor was penalised for blocking Valentino Yuel's shot with his hands.
Ufuk Talay's side return to the top six at the expense of Western Sydney Wanderers, while Western United miss the chance to leapfrog Melbourne City into second.
Although they survived an early scare when Stefan Marinovic parried Dylan Pierias' effort, Phoenix swiftly found their superb recent form in Ballarat.
Luke DeVere headed over, Reno Piscopo tested Filip Kurto before bending a shot agonisingly wide, while at the other end, Max Burgess cracked a swerving effort from distance against the foot of the post.
Kurto produced an outstanding stop to parry Ball's effort past the post with his fingertips after the Englishman streaked into the box but Ball gave Phoenix a deserved lead just seconds after by tucking Davila's centre in the corner following the Mexican star's lungbursting run from halfway.
Scott McDonald called Marinovic into action in the second half but their positive start to the second half was extinguished when Callum McCowatt struck his maiden Hyundai A-League goal to put the visitors in cruise control.
Davila set the seal on an outstanding display by dispatching his eighth goal of the season past Kurto with ten minutes remaining, finishing coolly after racing through on goal.
Phoenix draw first blood through Ball
Ball had been denied in spectacular fashion by Filip Kurto, but the one-time Puskas award nominee broke the deadlock seconds later.
Cameron Devlin nicked the ball away on half way and fed Ulises Davila, who turned away from his marker brilliantly, charged up the left and squared for Ball to slide in his second Hyundai A-League goal.
That strike the ninth time in 12 matches Western United had conceded the first goal this season - a worrying trend for the league new boys.
McCowatt strikes maiden Hyundai A-League goal
Last weekend it was Australia U-23 star Reno Piscopo who etched his name onto the Hyundai A-League score sheet for the first time. On this occasion, it was Kiwi starlet Callum McCowatt.
Piscopo was the creator, driving infield from the left and finding the New Zealand international in the box and although the attacker got fortunate with a deflection off Jonathan Aspropotamitis the finish across the face of goal was superb and left Kurto with no chance.
Melbourne City v Western United
Friday, 3 January 2020
Kick off: 7.30pm AEDT
Wellington Phoenix v Central Coast Mariners
Saturday, 4 January 2020
Kick off: 5.00pm AEDT