Wellington Hold Leaders To Keep Play-Off Hopes Alive
  Sun 18th Jan 2009
A-League 2008/2009 - Round 20 between Wellington Phoenix and Adelaide United at Westpac Stadium
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Costa Barbarouses 31') drew with Adelaide United 1 (Paul Reid 9')
Source: Back of the Net
Wellington Phoenix maintained their slim prospects of securing a maiden play-off place in the Hyundai A-League on Sunday evening, as they held league leaders Adelaide United to a 1-1 draw at Westpac Stadium, despite fielding just ten men for the final forty minutes of the match.

Combative midfielder Tim Brown became the latest player in recent weeks to incur the wrath of officialdom for committing two bookable offences, with decidedly inconsistent referee Chris Beath wielding the red card six minutes into the second half of a keenly contested encounter, watched by 8,241 fans.

Adelaide began strongly, and only a stunning reflex save from Glen Moss denied them in the second minute. Scott Jamieson's free-kick from near the corner flag was met at the near post by the unmarked Robert Cornthwaite some six yards from goal. His header bulleted towards the target, but Moss' reflexes kept the visitors at bay.

He had less joy seven minutes later, as the league leaders opened the scoring. Wellington were cut to shreds by a slick passing manoeuvre, which saw Angelo Costanzo slip the ball to Paul Reid, who played a neat one-two with Cristiano which found the midfielder in space in the penalty area.

Reid quickly sized up his options, and curled home a beauty beyond the despairing fingertips of Moss into the far corner of the net, a strike which silenced the vocal locals, for whom this match marked the opportunity to bid farewell to the retiring Vaughan Coveny, and both Moss and Shane Smeltz, the undoubted stars of Wellington's campaign, who are transferring to rival A-League clubs next season.

The home team were reeling from this setback when Adelaide twice went close to doubling their lead. Another Jamieson free-kick was flicked on by Paul Agostino, an action which deceived Sasa Ognenovski as he arrived on the far post.

He was unable to take advantage of the opening, in much the same fashion as Travis Dodd soon afterwards - namesake Karl deflected his drive to safety to prevent the visitors from turning their early superiority into an even greater one on the scoreboard.

Wellington were beginning to come into the game, however, led by Daniel. The mercurial Brazilian-turned-Kiwi was causing problems for Adelaide's defence with a couple of teasing crosses and probing passes, one of which presented Leo Bertos with a shooting chance in the seventh minute, a tame attempt which Eugene Galekovic smothered solidly.

This was matched by Moss' denial, in the 25th minute, of a shot struck with similar feebleness by Cristiano. By this time, Wellington were beginning to get on top of their opponents, and in the 31st minute, they scored one of the best goals in their brief history.

Manny Muscat brought the ball out of defence and picked out Smeltz ahead of him. The league's leading scorer deftly back-heeled the ball into the path of Bertos, who was buccaneering up on his outside.

The flank player cut a swathe into the Adelaide penalty area before clipping a cross into the middle, where young Costa Barbarouses was arriving bang on cue. His stooping header arrowed past Galekovic into the bottom far corner of the net - 1-1. Wellington's goal of the season, no question!

And scored by a player whom many fans have longed to see given the opportunity to take on the home team?s A-League rivals. Ricki Herbert finally gave him his head, and Barbarouses responded with a fine display, which has left many begging the question, 'Why has he been used so sparingly?'

It was Adelaide's turn to be stumbling on the ropes now, and only a fine save by Galekovic prevented Daniel from heading Wellington in front, as he met Bertos' corner on the far post eleven minutes before half-time.

The home team continued to press, with Tony Lochhead and Smeltz opening up Adelaide's right flank in the minutes before half-time. But the league leaders haven't amassed the best defensive record in the competition without working hard for each other on and off the ball, and it was those efforts which ensured Wellington weren't able to hit the front before the interval.

They came close just before the half-time whistle, however. Bertos and Daniel combined to slip Ben Sigmund in on goal. The defender beat an opponent before cracking an angled shot goalwards, the ball being deflected narrowly past the far post.

Wellington carried on where they left off in the second spell, piling on the pressure. Brown slipped Daniel into the penalty area, but his hesitance was dealt with mercilessly by Adelaide?s rearguard, who also survived a tumble in between defenders by Barbarouses on the edge of the penalty area and a handling offence by Cornthwaite during this period.

Referee Beath - rather conveniently, it seemed - waved play on when these offences took place. Yet he had been quick to wield the yellow card whenever a Wellington player had trod a fine line where the Laws of the Game are concerned.

He was wielding it again in the 51st minute, and followed it up with a red card - Brown?s second bookable offence reduced Wellington to ten men for the remainder of the contest, and handed the initiative to Adelaide.

But they failed to take advantage of it - more to the point, they weren't allowed to. Because the home team mustered a tremendous response in the face of adversity, and threw everything they had at the league leaders in an effort to clinch all three points and draw themselves level on the points table with Central Coast Mariners.

Certainly, Adelaide looked to make their numerical superiority count. But they were unable to take advantage when Moss spilled a Cornthwaite cross in the 57th minute, while Agostino headed Reid's corner narrowly over the bar sixty seconds later.

Reid then saw his shot on the turn flash across the face of goal in the 64th minute, after the visitors contrived a delightful patient passing move to open up Wellington's defence. But try as they might, they found their spirited opponents had an answer for everything, and it was Adelaide's defence which withheld the greater number of attacking opportunities throughout the rest of the match.

Barbarouses, in particular, was causing Adelaide all sorts of problems, and the burly figure of Ognenovski had his hands full endeavouring to contain the lively youngster, who had a shot blocked by the defender prior to stinging the gloves of Galekovic twenty minutes from time.

Ten minutes prior, Wellington should have taken the lead. Daniel and Lochhead combined to send Bertos careering down the left in acres of space, with Smeltz steaming through the middle in anticipation of a cross. It never came, Bertos opting to take on defenders, only to find himself outnumbered.

It summed up Adelaide?s defensive effort, in which Michael Valkanis was the epitome of solidity. It was largely thanks to his industry and direction that Wellington weren?t able to test Galekovic again until five minutes from time, when Jon McKain picked out Sigmund with a cross, the defender?s header requiring a sound save to maintain parity.

For his efforts, McKain found himself in all sorts of bother seconds later, courtesy the day?s most agricultural challenge. How Ognenovski escaped with just a yellow card defied logic, because this was far worse than anything Brown had done when he had been on the park.

= Indeed, McKain was unable to continue after this incident - little wonder referee Beath was serenaded by the Yellow Fever fraternity with those timeless chants, 'All we want is a decent referee' and 'You don't know what you're doing?!

Both teams went all out for the winner in the remaining minutes, but only once was either goal threatened. Deep in stoppage time, Bertos jinked past three opponents before crossing to the near post.

Smeltz launched himself at the sphere, but was unable to guide it on target. The despairing groans of Wellington?s fans were swiftly replaced by cheers for the ten men, whose play-off prospects remain alive after this brave draw against the league leaders.

They now top the table on goal difference from Melbourne Victory, whom Wellington must beat at the Telstra Dome on Friday night to stand a chance of making the play-offs, a situation which Adelaide can influence by beating Central Coast Mariners next Sunday, in the final game of the premiership phase of the Hyundai A-League season.

Match report written by Jeremy Ruane (courtesy of www.sportswebsoccer.com)

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Costa Barbarouses 31') drew with Adelaide United 1 (Paul Reid 9')
Match Statistics:
Crowd: 8241

Wellington Phoenix FC :
Player listing:
Moss (gk); Muscat, Dodd, Sigmund, Lochhead; Barbarouses (Ferrante +81), Brown, McKain (Christie +90), Bertos; Smeltz, Daniel (Kwasnik +75)

Substitutes not used: tba

Coach: Ricki Herbert

Yellow Cards: Brown 28', 51', McKain 14', Bertos 35'
Red Cards: Brown 51'

Adelaide United FC :
Player listing:
Galekovic; Cornthwaite, Valkanis, Ognenovski (booked, 85), Jamieson (booked, 79); T. Dodd, Costanzo (Mullen, 68), Reid, Barbiero; Cristiano, Agostino (Salley, 74 (booked, 84))

Substitutes not used: tba

Coach: Aurelio Vidmar

Yellow Cards: Nil
Red Cards: Nil

Referee: Chris Beath , 2 / 10
Pitch: 8 / 10
Game: 7 / 10

Best Players:
3. Michael Valkanis (AU)
2. Costa Barbarouses (WP)
1. Daniel de Costa (WP)
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