Phoenix win to delay Sydney’s party

Sydney FC’s A-League Premier’s Plate celebrations remain on hold after Wellington Phoenix’s 2-1 win over Perth Glory on Wednesday night.

Having been beaten 2-1 by Newcastle 24 hours earlier, the Sky Blues were hoping for a Phoenix loss at Bankwest Stadium to confirm the premiership.

However, the wait continues, with the Phoenix’s win moving them 12 points behind Sydney, with each team having four regular season matches remaining.

While the Phoenix need a miracle to dislodge Sydney – who also have a far superior goal difference – from top spot, their win over the Glory boosted their chances of a crucial top-two finish.

The Phoenix are now just a point behind second-placed Melbourne City and have a game in hand on the Victorian club.

Gary Hooper (88) celebrates with his Phoenix teammates after scoring against Perth Glory. Picture: Matt King/Getty ImagesSource:Getty Images

Perth would have jumped into third spot on the ladder with a win but paid the price for a poor start.
Wellington led 2-0 after 48 minutes through goals from Gary Hooper and Ulises Davila.

Glory wing-back Dane Ingham scored for the second game in succession to cut the Phoenix’s lead in half in the 62nd minute.

But the Kiwi club held on to win for the 12th time this season.

Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay said second spot was now in his side’s hands.

“Our focus from day one was to make the top six,” Talay said.

“We’ve secured a spot in the top six and now we’ll push as much as we can for second spot.”

Glory coach Tony Popovic said his team played well but was punished for two errors.

“At 2-1 I felt that it was certain we would get something from the game,” Popovic said.

“I thought it was a good all-round display by us.”

Talay’s decision to Hooper and Callum McCowatt into Wellington’s starting side paid dividends in the 32md minute.

From inside his own half, McCowatt delivered a 30-metre pass into Hooper’s path.

The former Celtic and Sheffield Wednesday marksman then used his strength to hold off Perth defender Alex Grant before guiding his shot past Glory goalkeeper Liam Reddy to give Wellington a 1-0 lead.

The Glory responded five minutes later with a long-distance strike from Bruno Fornaroli that was parried to safety by Phoenix goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic.

An unmarked McCowatt blew a great chance to double Wellington’s lead two minutes before half-time when he couldn’t connect cleanly with a shot from a Liberato Cacace cross.

However, the Phoenix didn’t have to wait much longer for their second goal, which came from the penalty spot three minutes into the second half.

Referee Alex King had no hesitation pointing to the spot after a clumsy foul from Glory substitute Jacob Tratt on Wellington striker David Ball.

Star Phoenix midfielder Davila, who had only just entered the contest after starting on the bench for the second successive match, made no mistake with the penalty in scoring his 12th goal of the season.

Ingham’s goal 14th minute later gave the Glory hope but it eventuated to nothing with Perth remaining in fifth spot on 34 points.

Originally published asPhoenix win to delay Sydney’s party

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