Venue: AAMI Park, Melbourne
Referee: Ben Williams
Yellow cards: MV - Diogo Ferreira 41’, Matthew Foschini 89’
WP - Ben Sigmund 17’, Chris Greenacre 51’, Paul Ifill 78’
The Phoenix were close to an early opener when Paul Ifill’s 5th minute free-kick was not cleared properly by the Victory defence and almost fell in behind goalkeeper Michael Petkovic after hitting Surat Sukha who was at the back post.
Ifill was creating a few problems for the Victory with his pace and positioning but it was former Victory midfielder Nick Ward who came the next closest in the 11th minute when his glancing volley from a Leo Bertos corner flicked the front post after getting through the Melbourne defence.
After the Phoenix controlled the first 15 minutes or so, the Victory picked themselves up and got right back into the contest but were often wasteful going forward as Wellington’s defenders continually closed down their advances.
Things began to die down after an exciting start as both sides enjoyed plenty of possession in the middle of the pitch but were struggling to create any goalscoring chances of note until the 43rd minute when Ifill found an unmarked Chris Greenacre in the area but the Englishman’s right-footed shot, after a mishit volley, was well-saved by Petkovic causing the half to end without a goal.
The second half kicked off in a very similar fashion to how the middle stages of the opening term played out but at least Phoenix recruit Nick Ward was trying to spark some life into proceedings by taking on his teammates of just three weeks ago and attempting to create scoring chances.
Phoenix keeper Danny Vukovic was forced into his first save in the 62nd minute when Victory substitute Mate Dugandzic made a clever run before playing into the feet of Carlos Hernandez whose powerful shot was blocked by the ex-Central Coast Mariners gloveman.
That seemed to spark the game into life as both sides opened up, particularly the Phoenix, who again came close in the 69th minute when Tim Brown’s running shot from outside the area beat Petkovic but did not find its way into the back of the net.
Then it was Melbourne’s turn to go close when Billy Celeski found Ricardinho in the area before the Brazilian took on the Phoenix defence only to have his lobbed shot tipped over the bar by an alert Vukovic.
Proceedings had definitely taken a turn for the better as both sides chased a winner in the final 15 minutes but that elusive goal did not come for either side and the match ended as a 0-0 draw, keeping the Victory fourth on the table with seven points in nine games and allowing the Phoenix to move up to fifth.
Michael Petkovic (gk), Surat Sukha, Leigh Broxham, Grant Brebner, Ricardinho (Kellaway 85’), Roddy Vargas, Diogo Ferreira (Foschini 80’), Billy Celeski, Tom Pondeljak (Dugandzic 59’), Carlos Hernandez, Adrian Leijer
Subs - Sebastian Mattei (gk), Mate Dugandzic (59’), Matthew Foschini (80’), Geoff Kellaway (85’)
Danny Vukovic (gk), Manny Muscat, Tony Lochhead, Nick Ward, Tim Brown, Leo Bertos, Paul Ifill (Daniel 81’), Chris Greenacre (Pavlovic 76’), Jade North, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante
Subs - Mark Paston (gk), Daniel (81’), Troy Hearfield, Mirjan Pavlovic (76’)