A game for the ages, but not for all the right reasons…
Sheer elation for the Wellington Phoenix, dire defeat for the Central Coast Mariners. For all of the Mariners’ excellent effort in the first half, it proved to be a red card that changed the game completely for Mike Mulvey’s side.
The Mariners immediately demonstrated a passion that has been missing for much of the season. But again they surrendered a lead, going ahead originally through Matt Simon’s clinical penalty and then Andrew Hoole’s well taken finish.
They were brought down a peg as a result of a red card earned by Kye Rowles, within 30 seconds of the second half’s start. Central Coast lessened their intensity as the half came to a close, subsequently losing their attacking prowess - Connor Pain had little to work with following Rowles’ red.
In contrast to showings throughout the season, this Mariners did not give up though, having a late equaliser through Jordan Murray ruled out for offside.
Mandi’s absence for the Phoenix appeared to be a larger loss than it did on Tuesday against the Wanderers, but in the end the Phoenix’s attacking prowess was left less required by the Mariners’ defensive weaknesses.
A fantastic Wellington crowd would have been delighted with their side’s showing, shown especially as a streaker entered the field in the 69th minute with plenty of time to give his side the recognition they well and truly deserved.
It is unknown at this time what became of him.
Filip Kurto — 6
Definitely had to do better against Andrew Hoole’s low drive, but the Pole did subsequently deal with Pain’s unexpectedly strong hit at his near post.
Had little to contend with in the second half (beyond an effort from Connor Pain just outside the box) and therefore had little air time to perform his theatrics.
Steven Taylor — 6.5
Finally met his first real individual match in the form of the equally cheeky Matt Simon. Poorly handled the aforementioned Wizard of Woy Woy in the box, leading to the game’s opener.
As with the theme of the game, the Geordie excelled as his side did.
Andrew Durante — 6
Had a mediocre showing on his 300th appearance, but was strong aerially in challenging Matt Simon.
Tom Doyle — 7
Possibly could have prevented Hoole’s goal had Kurto not got a hand to it. Broke forward often to create something for his side with mixed results.
Louis Fenton — 8
The flying fullback was critical in ensuring his side never took their foot off the gas, winning the ball back well and taking on the Mariners left side with a confidence not typically sighted in the right back.
Michal Kopczynski — 7.5
Did well to anticipate his tackles in midfield as the Mariners players’ tendency to over commit in an effort to maintain intensity played in to his hands. The Polish defensive midfielder was one of his side’s better players in a poor first half.
Mitch Nichols — 5
Akin to the rest of his side, Nichols started off poorly and was responsible for giving the ball away in midfield in the lead up to Hoole’s goal. Showed a bit of quality towards the end of the first period but was hooked off as the first half began.
Liberato Cacace — 7
The youngster had a solid all round game and continued a string of quality performances for his side.
Sarpreet Singh — 7.5
Made some positive movements when given time on the ball in the first half but was not able to show his true quality until the Mariners were forced to retreat.
David Williams — 8.5
Did well in moving the ball with his back to goal in the first half but the former Melbourne City man often found himself surrounded by the Mariners defence and thus had little room to manoeuvre.
To continue the theme, Williams was exceptional in the second period, looking to set up the likes of Krishna and Sheridan whilst positioning himself well to provide an option. Scored the tiebreaker following Krishna and Singh’s good work.
Roy Krishna — 9
Strode past the Mariners defence with sheer speedy dominance, earning two penalties and dispatching both with tenacity past Kennedy.
He dazzled when he needed to and worked when his side needed him most. Earned an assist as well as he laid off the ball to Williams following an impressive effort by Singh.
The Fijian’s second half performance was a far cry from he and his side’s first half showing. A near perfect performance if not for a quiet first half.
Cillian Sheridan — 8
The perfect substitution by Mark Rudan, instantly making an impact as he flicked the ball on to Krishna who raced through on goal and won a penalty.
The Irishman further displayed the quality that has previously earned him a Republic of Ireland international cap, entertaining the crowd with his desire and movement similar to how he captivates listeners on his “Misted Sherry” podcast.
Max Burgess — 6
The Phoenix’s weapon off the bench was brought on after his side had wrapped up the three points and thus could influence little.
Dylan Fox — N/A
Brought on late to provide defensive stability.
Central Coast Mariners
Ben Kennedy — 6
Leaped fantastically to deny a looping header in the first period and nearly prevented Krishna’s first penalty, ultimately it was not enough. Still uncertain in the air at times.
Kye Rowles — 4
A tale of two halves as the youngster had a solid first half as a part of a three man defence but brought down Krishna who was racing through on goal in the second period to earn a red.
Jake McGing — 6
Opted to put pressure on the likes of Williams and Cacace to great effect in the first half. Maintained his good quality, putting in a well-timed tackle against a stampeding Sheridan in the second half.
Jonathan Aspropotamitis — 6
Signed on as an injured player in pre-season and finally got his chance to play in the A-League following nearly a year out with an ACL issue.
A tumultuous return for the former Wanderer who could do little more than try and savour anything for his side.
Jacob Melling — 6.5
A brilliantly timed tackle set Andrew Hoole on his way to put the Mariners in heaven at 2-0, a place they have not known all season.
Fearless in his tackling, even as he was reverted to a left back role after Rowles’ red card. In defence, Melling was industrious, rarely letting anyone past him until Krishna bested him, forcing an already frustrated Melling to bring down the striker.
Can hold his head up as he was quality beyond the penalty.
Tom Hiariej — 6
Brought in for Aiden O’Neill and Hiariej’s first half performance proved that the Dutchman is indispensable.
But he went missing in the second period as his side played second fiddle to an onslaught of Wellington attacks.
Matt Millar — 6
The former South Melbourne man has been a shrewd acquisition. Whether it was as a wingback or right back, Millar was a perennial presence going forward, yet defensively he was suspect, which Wellington took advantage of to great effect.
Connor Pain — 7
The Mariners’ go to man throughout the game would have been understandably dismayed by his side’s loss, as beyond showing plenty of quality the winger often did well defensively, accounting for his side’s lapses in defence.
Tommy Oar — 6
Brilliantly glided through the Wellington midfield but underwent a shift in confidence as he lacked options. Additionally, Oar appeared to tire quickly on his return to the Mariners starting 11 and thus was lacking defensively.
Andrew Hoole — 5
Known as a player of fluctuating consistency, today was one of his off days despite notching a well taken goal to give his side a false buffer at 2-0. Some truly pitiful corners at times, in moments where his side needed some of his technical quality.
Matt Simon — 7
Caused trouble in the first half for Steven Taylor, earning a penalty as the Englishman wrapped himself around the burly striker and dispatching the resulting spot kick smartly. Never backed down for his side.
Jack Clisby — 5
Filled in at left back to push Melling back in to midfield and was showed up by Fenton down his flank.
Jordan Murray — 7
Did fantastically with the few opportunities he was given; linking up positively with Simon and appeared to earn his side’s equaliser with a great touch and tap finish.
Unfortunately for the Mariners, it was ruled out for offside.
Michael McGlinchey — 6
Did well off the bench, teeing up Millar and trying to create something for his side.