Wellington Phoenix have been held to a 2-2 draw by the Melbourne Heart at a windy Westpac Stadium this afternoon. The Phoenix notched up a new Australian national league record of 24 games without defeat at one venue as they gave up an early lead before grabbing a second-half equaliser against a determined Heart outfit.
Venue: Westpac Stadium, Wellington Crowd: approx. 8,000 Referee: Matthew Breeze Yellow cards:WP - Paul Ifill 79' MH - Simon Colosimo 44'
GOAL The Phoenix got off to a great start when Manny Muscat played a superb ball through the Heart defence into the path of Chris Greencare and the former Tranmere Rovers frontman finished with aplomb to notch up his fourth of the season.
Things were looking ominous for the Heart in the early stages on yet another windy day in Wellington but they were given a chance to restore parity when Muscat brought down Heart youngster Adrian Zahra in the area forcing referee Mathew Breeze to point to the spot. GOAL Veteran striker John Aloisi stepped up to the plate and drilled it hard and low past Mark Paston to make it 1-1 in the 14th minute.
It was an end-to-end affair with both sides spring boarding their attacks from defence with the Heart slightly edging the home side after equalising although it was the Phoenix who were the next closest to score when Leo Bertos found Paul Ifill in the area but his angled header just after the half-hour mark was off target.
GOAL Then in the 37th minute, Melbourne's Matt Thompson provided the highlight of the match when he turned two Wellington defenders inside out with his back to goal before finishing with precision to make it 2-1 to the visitors which is the way it ended at half-time.
Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert made two changes at half-time indicating he was unhappy with his men as they chased an equaliser after giving up an early lead whilst the Heart sat back in the initial stages of the second term.
GOAL It took just under fifteen minutes for the Phoenix to grab the leveller with Bertos receiving a clever backheel from Muscat on the left flank before whipping in a curling shot towards goal which was carried by the wind straight past Clint Bolton who completely misjudged the flight of the ball.
Once Wellington got back on level pegging, they were a lot more comfortable in their play and it looked like a winner was on the cards but the Heart managed to snub out any further chances and record a vital draw on the road.
WP Mark Paston (gk), Manny Muscat, Nick Ward (Pavlovic 46'), Tim Brown, Leo Bertos (Daniel 81'), Paul Ifill, Chris Greenacre, Troy Hearfield, Jade North (Lia 46'), Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante
Subs - Danny Vukovic (gk), Daniel (81'), Mirjan Pavlovic (46'), Vince Lia (46')
MH Clint Bolton (gk), Michael Marrone, Simon Colosimo, Michael Beauchamp, Matt Thompson (Hoffman 83'), Rutger Worm, Wayne Srhoj, John Aloisi, Josip Skoko (Kalmar 62'), Dean Heffernan, Adrian Zahra (Terra 69')
Subs - Peter Zois (gk), Alex Terra (69'), Jason Hoffman (83'), Nick Kalmar (62')