Unbeaten run ends as Jets knock Phoenix off the top of men’s A-League table

posted in: A-League (Men), News

The Newcastle Jets have knocked the Wellington Phoenix off the top of the men’s A-League table, inflicting a 3-0 defeat in their seventh-round match at Sky Stadium in Wellington.

Apostolos Stamatelopoulos scored early in each half, while Clayton Taylor found the back of the net shortly before halftime as Newcastle stunned the competition leaders.

The Nix had a number of goalscoring opportunities of their own, but weren’t able to find a way past Ryan Scott in the Jets’ goal.

“We could have played another two or three hours and we wouldn’t have scored,” Phoenix head coach Giancarlo Italiano told media after the match. “That kind of sums up the whole theme of the game.

“We created chances, I just never believed that we were going to score tonight.

“It was more my intuition than a stat. I think we had 16/17 shots, it’s quite a number of shots and we had quite a number of good chances.

“We were in the right places, but when it came to that second phase … where we needed a bit more application mentally, we weren’t good.”

Giancarlo Italiano: ‘We defended quite poorly’

Italiano was also disappointed with how Wellington conceded the three goals.

“We defended quite poorly, especially in crucial moments; the first five minutes of the first half, the end of the first half, the last five minutes, and the sucker punch was giving away the penalty at the beginning of the second half.”

It is also his first defeat as an A-League head coach.

“I’m been very fortunate. This is the first time that’s happened, and it won’t be the last.

“I just have to make sure the group understands the process is more about the performance than the result.

“I don’t want them to put their head down or not believe in what we’re doing. That’s the most important part of the messaging.”

Smiles all round for the Jets who were in front from the fourth minute.

One change to starting line-up

Giancarlo Italiano made just one change to the XI which started last week’s 1-0 win over Western United, with fit-again striker Oskar Zawada returning up front in place of David Ball, who was named amongst an otherwise unchanged bench.

The Phoenix found themselves a goal down inside four minutes when Stamatelopoulos pounced on a loose ball in the Wellington box and tucked his shot in off the far post.

Apart from collecting the ball from the back of his own net Alex Paulsen was relatively unemployed in the Nix goal in the first half.

In contrast, his opposite, Ryan Scott, was busy, especially in the opening quarter of an hour.

He made his first save in the eighth minute, keeping out a diving header from Nicholas Pennington, who got into a great position at the back post.

Scott was also effective as a sweeper ‘keeper, coming out of his box to snuff out a couple of Phoenix chances, the first of which was in the 10th minute when Kosta Barbarouses slipped in behind the Jets’ back four.

Barbarouses had a shot from the right-hand side of the Newcastle box moments later and Scott did well to save it with his left boot.

The Phoenix’s next best chance fell to Alex Rufer midway through the first half when the ball found its way to his feet inside the Jets’ six yard box. Unfortunately for Rufer and the Nix his shot was well smothered by some desperate Newcastle defence.

Pennington had looked the Phoenix’s most dangerous player in the first half, making some great runs into the Jets’ box and he turned provider shortly after the half an hour mark when he slipped Zawada in behind the Newcastle back four. However, the opportunity came to nothing as the Polish striker flashed his shot wide.

The Jets doubled their advantage a couple of minutes out from halftime when the Nix were unable to deal with a right wing cross and Taylor stroked home into an empty net from four yards out.

He gave Newcastle the chance to make it 3-0 seconds into the second half when he earned a penalty after being bundled over in the box by Wellington centre backs Finn Surman and Scott Wootton. Stamatelopoulos stepped up to the penalty and became the first player in three attempts to beat Paulsen from the spot this season.

Clayton Taylor is upended in the Phoenix penalty area, leading to the Jets’ penalty.

Italiano brought on Ben Old and Sam Sutton in the for the final 35 minutes and the Phoenix did everything put score.

Pennington forced a sharp save from Ryan Scott at his near post in 56th minute, Surman headed wide of goal five minutes later and Tim Payne rattled the right-hand post midway through the second half after making a lung-busting run into the box

Old had a great chance shortly after when he was teed up by Kraev, but the Nix substitute blazed his shot off target.

Bozhidar Kraev looked the most likely to pull a goal back for Wellington in the final quarter of an hour after moving further forward after Zawada was forced off with injury. Kraev tested Newcastle’s ‘keeper with a long-range free-kick and a shot from the edge of the area, but Scott was up to the task on both occasions.

He also did well to keep out a cross-come-shot from Payne that looked to be dipping under his crossbar.

Paulsen made his only save of the second half in the final minute of time added on, doing well to prevent former Phoenix fullback Lucas Mauragis from scoring Newcastle’s fourth.

The Wellington Phoenix have extra time to prepare for their next match against Macarthur FC in Sydney, with the fixture pushed back to Monday week (December 18).

Match highlights


Game played on Saturday December 9, 2023

Wellington Phoenix 0
Newcastle Jets 3 (Apostolos Stamatelopoulos 4′, 47′ pen, Clayton Taylor 43′)


Wellington Phoenix

40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 3. Finn SURMAN, 4. Scott WOOTTON, 6. Tim PAYNE, 7. Kosta BARBAROUSES, 9. Oskar ZAWADA (10. David BALL 63rd), 11. Bozhidar KRAEV, 12. Mohamed AL-TAAY (8. Ben OLD 55th), 14. Alex RUFER (c), 15. Nicholas PENNINGTON (24. Oskar VAN HATTUM 78th), 18. Lukas KELLY-HEALD (19. Sam SUTTON 55th).

Unused substitutes: 25. Jack DUNCAN (gk), 5. Fin CONCHIE, 23. Luke SUPYK.

Newcastle Jets

1. Ryan SCOTT (gk), 5. Lucas MAURAGIS, 6. Brandon O’NEILL (c), 8. Apostolos STAMATELOPOULOS (26. Archie GOODWIN 78th), 10. Reno PISCOPO (19. Callum TIMMINS 78th), 13. Clayton TAYLOR (23. Daniel WILMERING 84th), 14. Dane INGHAM, 17. Kostandinos GROZOS, 22. Phillip CANCAR, 33. Mark NATTA, 39. Thomas AQUILINA (7. Trent BUHAGIAR 84th).

Unused substitutes: 20. Michael WEIER (gk), 25. Carl JENKINSON, 29. Justin VIDIC.


22. Phillip CANCAR (Newcastle Jets) – yellow – 29th
14. Alex RUFER (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 45+1
7. Kosta BARBAROUSES (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 90+1


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