A new “Kiwi Messi”, a vulnerable Victory and a rising Phoenix made up the pieces of an emphatic end of year clash.
A Keisuke Honda-less Melbourne Victory were still in full gear as they were equally matched by a competitive and entertaining Wellington Phoenix side.
A fantastic start to the game saw Victory’s Thomas Deng misjudge the bounce of a through ball resulting in the Nix’s Roy Krishna diverting away from Lawrence Thomas and over hitting his shot at goal, setting the tone for a pulsating affair that never relented.
A near sell out AAMI Park meant for a fantastic Friday night atmosphere where Victory favourite Marco Rojas’ tag as the ‘Kiwi Messi’ has been dismantled to make way for Wellington’s Sarpreet Singh, an exceptional talent who is no doubt in pole position for the A-League Young Footballer of the Year gong.
Wellington Phoenix continued their improvement on the season thus far. Furthermore, by getting the best out of the limited resources he has, Mark Rudan has made his Wellington side fearless going forward and ensured every player is accountable in defence.
The Victory were particularly susceptible to the counter attacking efforts of the Nix, whilst Wellington’s lead was lost due to a poor clearance from Andrew Durante, ultimately leaving both sides sharing the points.
Lawrence Thomas — 7
Stood up exceptionally well to get in the way of a Sarpreet Singh drive on goal towards the end of the first half. Had no chance in keeping out Williams’ effort.
Storm Roux — 7.5
Made some penetrative darting runs along his flank and consistently put the ball on a platter for Victory’s forwards to attack.
Thomas Deng — 5
Genuinely struggled throughout the tie, finding difficulty in safely clearing the ball when he to and being outmatched for pace by the Wellington forward pack.
On the other hand, he was powerful aerially and in his interceptions. Claims for his inclusion in the Socceroos squad for the Asian Cup were left unsatisfied following the final 23’s announcement, as Graham Arnold opted for the more naturalised right back in the form of Rhyan Grant.
Nick Ansell — N/A
Suffered an injury merely ten minutes in. No doubt he and Victory are hoping it is not too serious.
Corey Brown — 6
Despite demonstrating impressive energy and work rate, he failed to impress when getting in to good crossing positions, often letting down his teammates with the final ball.
Leigh Broxham — 7
As is typical of his ‘utility’ status, Broxham was shifted in to a central defence role following an injury to Nick Ansell.