Fine margins costly again for Wellington Phoenix in women’s A-League

posted in: A-League (Women), News

The Wellington Phoenix have suffered their fifth consecutive one-goal defeat in Australia, losing their latest women’s A-League match 2-1 to the Central Coast Mariners.

The Central Coast Mariners won the Unite Round match at Leichhardt Oval in Sydney, despite Emma Main scoring her third goal of the season to give the Nix an early lead.

The Nix remain fourth on the ladder for now, but their place in the top six is under threat.

Phoenix head coach Paul Temple labelled the performance “incredibly disappointing”.

“It’s pretty emotional at the moment,” Temple said post-match. “It’s hard to get true clarity on what’s going on in the games, especially tonight.

“I just feel for the supporters. They’re spending a lot of money coming to watch us play and travelling around Australia. We can hear them from the sideline but we’re not really giving them anything to really cheer about at the moment.

“At the moment, we’re a team that’s lacking in confidence in our ability to navigate through games and to really find our rhythm and our identity at the moment, and that’s the most disappointing thing for me.

“We had lots of discussions through the week about being a team that can fight, scrap and win battles when we need to, and be a team that can play good football and play through teams when we need do, and having to have the balance between the two, and we were absolutely nowhere near that balance again tonight.

“We weren’t good enough defensively and we weren’t good enough offensively either so there’s a lot of soul searching to be done.”

Temple makes three changes to starting line-up

Paul Temple made three changes to the XI which started Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Brisbane Roar, with holding midfielder Kate Taylor and forward Emma Main returning from injury and illness respectively, while attacking midfielder Alyssa Whinham was named to make her first start of the season.

Main got the Phoenix off to a dream start, pouncing on a wayward pass from Mariners ‘keeper Casey Dumont and curling a shot into the bottom right corner just three minutes into the match. It was the team’s 50th goal in their history.

Emma Main turns in joy after putting her side ahead in the third minute.

The early milestone goal energised the Nix. A pinpoint through ball from Michaela Foster forced Dumont to scramble out of her box to clear moments later, before Mariana Speckmaier sent a shot just wide of the right upright.

Macey Fraser and Whinham also both tried their luck from distance, but Dumont got comfortably behind both efforts.

Rylee Foster produced a significantly more acrobatic save in the 18th minute, clinging onto a long-range shot from Central Coast midfielder Peta Trimis that looked to nestle in the top left corner. An even better one followed, as Foster clawed away a header from Mariners captain Bianca Galic.

Central Coast grew into the game, collecting a number of corners and putting pressure on the Wellington backline.

Their American forward Rola Badawiya should have equalised in the 22nd minute, but she made up for her mistake moments later when she showed some real quality to cut into the box and slot her shot into the far corner of the Phoenix goal.

The leveller spurred both teams on and the match progressed at a breakneck tempo. Both midfields struggled to stop counter attacks, resulting in a back and forth first half.

The Mariners celebrate after scoring against the Phoenix.

Attempts were exchanged from range, Speckmaier firing over again before Trimis scuffed an ambitious one.

Rylee Foster continued her excellent game when she rushed off her line and smothered a close-range opportunity for Mariners defender Faye Bryson. There was nothing she could do when Trimis was slipped through on goal and expertly slotted home Central Coast’s second.

The Phoenix continued to threaten on the break in the lead-up to halftime, with Whinham producing an exciting run which led to a string of corners, but no clear-cut opportunities.

Half-time change for Phoenix

Temple made one change at halftime, introducing Hailey Davidson at right back in place of Zoe McMeeken.

The second half picked up where the first left off, both sides with energy and speculative efforts but no real incisiveness. Main and Michaela Foster forced Dumont to make two saves, but the ‘keeper was largely untroubled.

In the 55th minute Bryson produced a miraculous double goal-line clearance to deny Rebecca Lake her first professional goal. Consecutive efforts were stopped on the line after a spilled corner led to a goalmouth scramble.

The match slowed down as the players tired and prompted Temple to inject Kelli Brown and Hope Breslin in the 65th minute for Whinham and Main, who was struggling with cramp.

Lake produced an important clearance soon after, while Rylee Foster kept the Nix in the game with a great one-on-one save to deny Mariners’ substitute Annalise Rasmussen in the 75th minute.

As the game drew to a close, Central Coast had more of the ball, frustrating Wellington, who had to rely on sporadic counter attacks and set pieces, but their final ball was lacking.

The fourth official signalled six minutes of additional time for the Phoenix to find an equaliser, but it did not arrive. The Mariners defended stoutly to see out the remaining time, with Annalie Longo providing the only scare for Central Coast when her shot was well blocked in the fourth minute of stoppage time.

The Wellington Phoenix will now focus on their round 13 match against top-of-the-table Melbourne City in Melbourne next Saturday.

Match highlights



Game played on Friday January 12, 2024

Wellington Phoenix 1 (Emma Main 3′)
Central Coast Mariners 2 (Rola Badawiya 23′, Peta Trimis 34′)


Table at 1am (NZT) on Saturday January 13.


Wellington Phoenix

1. Rylee FOSTER (gk), 2. Zoe MCMEEKEN (18. Hailey DAVIDSON 46th), 3. Kate TAYLOR, 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 6. Macey FRASER, 10. Alyssa WHINHAM (11. Hope BRESLIN 65th), 13. Michaela FOSTER, 16. Annalie LONGO (c), 17. Mariana SPECKMAIER, 20. Emma MAIN (9. Kelli BROWN 65th), 23. Rebecca LAKE.

Unused substitutes: 22. Aimee DANIELI (gk), 26. Tiana JABER.

Central Coast Mariners

92. Casey DUMONT (gk), 2. Faye BRYSON, 3. Ashley IRWIN, 6. Isabel GOMEZ, 8. Bianca GALIC (c), 9. WURIGUMULA (4. Paige HAYWARD 46th), 10. Rola BADAWIYA (27. Maya LOBO 81st), 12. Jazmin WARDLOW (5. Annabel MARTIN 46th), 19. Tiarna KARAMBASIS, 22. Peta TRIMIS, 24. Shadeene EVANS (11. Annalise RASMUSSEN 70th).

Unused substitutes: 1. Sarah LANGMAN (gk) .


10. Alyssa WHINHAM (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 26′
16. Annalie LONGO (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 37′
2. Faye BRYSON (Central Coast Mariners) – yellow – 69′
13. Michaela FOSTER (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 70′
6. Macey FRASER (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 79′


This story is published with the help of the Wellington Phoenix.

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