Wellington Phoenix head coach Paul Temple believes his side were denied a “dead-set” penalty that could have rescued a point in their women’s A-League loss to Brisbane Roar.
The Wellington Phoenix slumped to their fourth straight road defeat in the Liberty A-League, losing 2-1 at Brisbane’s Perry Park.
The Roar scored either side of halftime to cancel out Isabel Cox’s maiden A-League goal.
Cox would have scored a second, three minutes from fulltime, had it not been for Roar defender Leah Scarpelli, who produced a goal-line clearance with her arm.
Main photo: Leah Scarpelli (right) makes contact with the ball as it heads for the net.
Temple: ‘It’s a clear handball’
Despite Wellington’s protestations for handball, the Nix weren’t awarded a penalty.
“It’s a clear handball,” Phoenix head coach Paul Temple said post-match. “It’s a pretty dead-set penalty, to be honest with you. The camera angle is very clear. It’s a handball on the line.
“It’s disappointing the officials don’t see it because you want them to be picking up things like that.
“It’s those moments like that where you’ve got to ask the question why is there VAR (video assistant referee) in the men’s league and not in the women’s league. Because if that goes to VAR it’s a clear penalty.
“But it’s not all about that. You don’t want to be a coach that loses the game and blames the referees or one moment like that.
“It’s not all about that. They’re just factors. We’ve got to take responsibility for ourselves and improve on things ourselves and be better.”
Temple says they need to find some answers for their away game woes.
“We don’t seem to be able to complete two good halves of football in a row at the moment and that’s really frustrating.
“Definitely an away game is a factor for us and we’ve got to find a way to get around that because since Western Sydney away we haven’t scored in second halves.
“You can see we start running out of gas and if we have to go and chase a game we don’t have the capacity to do that unless we make wholesale changes.
“It’s not easy but we’ve got to find a way to get around those things because we’ve obviously still got away games to come.”
Three changes to starting line-up
Paul Temple made three changes to the XI which started last week’s 1-0 defeat to Sydney FC, with goalkeeper Rylee Foster, fullback Zoe McMeeken and Cox coming into the side in place of Brianna Edwards, the injured Kate Taylor and the ill Emma Main.
Edwards was named amongst the substitutes, which included returning forwards Kelli Brown and Michaela Robertson and new signing Tiana Jaber.
After a slow start, the Phoenix dominated the first half, with Brisbane ‘keeper Jordan Silkowitz making a string of quality saves. Macey Fraser was the first to call Silkowitz into action but it was Annalie Longo who was the first to really test the American shot-stopper who did well to tip Longo’s effort from the right edge of the box over her bar.
Silkowitz made an even better save shortly after to keep out Fraser’s shot from the top of the box.
The Roar cleared the resulting corner behind for another set piece and Michaela Foster delivered an inch-perfect delivery at the second time of asking which Cox nodded home from a couple of yards out for her first professional goal.
Mariana Speckmaier, Fraser and Longo all had half chances to double Wellington’s lead before the half hour mark but weren’t able to trouble Silkowitz with their shots from the edge of the box.
Completely against the run of play Matildas midfielder Tameka Yallop drew Brisbane level in the 34th minute when she pounced on a Phoenix mistake and beat Foster with a first-time finish.
The hosts had a couple more shots at goal before halftime as the Nix looked rattled but neither troubled Foster.
The Roar took the lead just seconds in the second half when Kijah Stephenson finished well at the back post after a great run and cut-back from Sharn Freier.
Fraser had an opportunity to level the game shortly after but shot straight at Jordan Silkowitz from the edge of the box.
Longo had an opening a few yards further out in the 65th minute but blazed over Brisbane’s goal.
Temple made his first substitution moments later bringing on Jaber for her Phoenix debut in place of Hailey Davidson. The Australian defender came on at centre back, with Rebecca Lake moving into the midfield and Foster into fullback.
The Roar enjoyed a good spell for the next quarter of an hour and should have scored their third. Captain Ayesha Norrie rattled the right post, American forward Mia Corbin was denied at point blank by Rylee Foster and substitute Tamar Levin blasted a shot against the crossbar when the Wellington goal was open.
Alyssa Whinham, Kelli Brown and Michaela Robertson were introduced for the final 15 minutes and two of them combined to give the Nix their best chance of the second half. Brown found Robertson with a great through ball in the 83rd minute, but she dragged her shot wide of Brisbane’s goal.
The Phoenix should have been awarded a spot kick when Scarpelli used her left arm to prevent Cox scoring her second goal from a Wellington corner.
The Nix’s appeals fell on deaf ears and they were unable to create another goalscoring opportunity with the Roar professionally closing out the match.
The Wellington Phoenix will have little time to dwell on the defeat, with another road match to come on Friday night. Tomorrow the team will make the short journey south to the Gold Coast where they will prepare for their Unite Round match against Central Coast Mariners in Sydney.
Game played on Sunday January 7, 2024
Brisbane Roar 2 (Tameka Yallop 34′, Kijah Stephenson 46′)
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Isabel Cox 20′)
29. Jordan SILKOWITZ (gk), 3. Deborah-Anne DE LA HARPE (2. Rebecca KIRKUP 88th), 4. Kijah STEPHENSON (12. Tamar LEVIN 78th), 5. Jenna MCCORMICK, 6. Holly MCQUEEN, 7. Ayesha NORRIE (c), 9. Mia CORBIN, 11. Sharn FREIER, 13. Tameka YALLOP, 17. Leah SCARPELLI, 19. Hollie PALMER.
Unused substitutes: 21. Isabella SHUTTLEWORTH (gk), 18. Teagan THOMPSON, 20. Bonnie DAVIES.
1. Rylee FOSTER (gk), 2. Zoe MCMEEKEN, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 6. Macey FRASER, 7. Isabel COX, 11. Hope BRESLIN (9. Kelli BROWN 77th), 13. Michaela FOSTER (10. Alyssa WHINHAM 78th), 16. Annalie LONGO (c), 17. Mariana SPECKMAIER (14. Michaela ROBERTSON 78th), 18. Hailey DAVIDSON (26. Tiana JABER 67th), 23. Rebecca LAKE.
Unused substitutes: 12. Brianna EDWARDS (gk).