Wellington Phoenix limp to season-ending loss

SAM WORTHINGTON
Last updated 19:50 12/04/2014
Carlos Hernandez
Getty Images
NOT GOOD ENOUGH: Leigh Broxham of the Victory wins the ball from Carlos Hernandez.

Relevant offers

Football

Francesco Totti strikes to deny Manchester City Wasteful Chelsea sneak past Sporting Lisbon Totti, Xavi break Champions League records Daniel Sturridge to miss England qualifiers Paris Saint Germain put on a show for Beyonce Bayern Munich score away win over CSKA Moscow Cristiano Ronaldo 'best player I have coached' Klaas Jan Huntelaar spares Schalke's blushes Jackson Martinez rescues point for Porto Stuttering Bilbao beaten by group minnows

The Wellington Phoenix's season is mercifully over after they limped across the finish line with a weak 4-1 loss to the Melbourne Victory this evening.

The Phoenix avoided the A-League wooden spoon after the Western Sydney Wanderers came back to beat the Melbourne Heart 3-2.

It was a depressing experience for the 5336 onlookers at a wintry Westpac Stadium, but at least the Victory's attacking quartet played some excellent stuff.

The game seemed like it was being played in an alternate universe from the Victory's previous visit in January when the Phoenix raised hopes of a playoff run with a thumping 5-0 win.

But injuries and suspensions have since decimated the squad, which hasn't won a game since February 21.

The margin of the loss sealed the Phoenix's worst ever defensive season, with the 51 goals against eclipsing last season's concession of 49.

Captain Andrew Durante was forced to marshal an inexperienced and makeshift rearguard, with the third-string Jacob Spoonley in goal and the unproven Luke Adams alongside him in central defence.

It was a recipe for disaster and the revenge-seeking Victory took less than a minute to land their first blow.

Gui Finkler flicked a clever ball in behind the defence for James Troisi who squared to Archie Thompson who buried the ball home.

The early strike sucked away what little confidence was remaining within the Phoenix ranks as they were routinely cut open with embarrassing ease.

It was 2-0 after half an hour as a counter-attacking Kosta Barbarouses set off down the left flank and linked with the prolific Troisi who, from a tight angle, unleashed a fierce left-footed shot into the roof of the net.

The Victory took a three-goal advantage into halftime as they simply marched through the middle of a soft defence, with Barbarouses again the provider, this time for Finkler who tucked past Spoonley with nonchalance.

It is such a pity Barbarouses is strutting his stuff against his hometown team, instead of for them, but you certainly can't blame him.

Things went from bad to worse after the break, when left back Shaun Timmins was rightly red-carded for going through the back of Barbarouses, who had the goal at his mercy.

Victory skipper Mark Milligan converted the penalty and the Yellow Fever were forced into some gallows humour with a rendition of Always Look On The Bright Side Of Life.

Ad Feedback

To complete a bizarre season, Jeremy Brockie struck with a brilliant volley in injury time to give the Phoenix at least some consolation.

The Phoenix will lick their wounds and reassemble on June 2 for what coach Ernie Merrick is promising will be a comprehensive pre-season.

The problem is Merrick doesn't have much room to move in materially improving personnel, with most of the squad already on the books for next season.

It seems likely that their leading scorer Stein Huysegems will be lost to Wellington with the off-contract striker benched for the first time this season.

Merrick has vowed to move swiftly in making decisions on his off-contract players with some announcements likely next week.

Timmins, Adams, Paul Ifill, Leo Bertos, Josh Brindell-South, Hamish Watson and Justin Gulley are the other players facing uncertain futures.

In the meantime all Phoenix fans have to look forward to is a potential pre-season visit by an English Premier League club, or clubs.

General manager David Dome had hoped to make an announcement before the end of the season but was unsuccessful.

Dome has said he is spending up to 10 hours a day on the exercise and, after watching yet another woeful performance, you wonder whether his energies might be better spent on trying to improve the squad.

Merrick has made much of his team's inexperience but this was still a starting XI containing eight senior internationals and three former youth internationals.

Melbourne Victory 4 (Archie Thompson, James Troisi, Gui Finkler, Mark Milligan) Wellington Phoenix 1 (Jeremy Brockie). HT: 3-0. Crowd: 5336

- Fairfax Media

Special offers
Opinion poll

Who will win this year's Champions League?

Ajax

Anderlecht

APOEL

Arsenal

Athletic Bilbao

Atletico Madrid

Barcelona

Basel

BATE Borisov

Bayer Leverkusen

Bayern Munich

Benfica

Borussia Dortmund

Chelsea

CSKA Moscow

Galatasaray

Juventus

Liverpool

Ludogorets

Malmo

Manchester City

Maribor

Monaco

Olympiacos

Paris St-Germain

Porto

Real Madrid

Roma

Schalke 04

Shaktar Donetsk

Sporting CP

Zenit St Petersburg

Vote Result

Featured Promotions

Sponsored Content