Clean sheet specialists Phoenix extend unbeaten A-League run to nine games

posted in: A-League (Men), News

The Wellington Phoenix have kept their eighth clean sheet of the men’s A-League season, and remain unbeaten in nine games, after sharing the points with Perth Glory.

The Phoenix have drawn 0-0 with free-scoring Perth Glory at HBF Park in Perth.

The Nix had the best chances, with Ben Old rattling the woodwork before former Wellington goalkeeper Oli Sail made a big save to deny Oskar Zawada a 90th-minute matchwinner.

Former Phoenix ‘keeper Oli Sail kept Perth Glory in the game with this save.

The result stretches the Phoenix’s unbeaten run to nine matches and stretches their advantage over Central Coast Mariners and Melbourne Victory, who play each other on Sunday night.

“I’m very happy,” head coach Giancarlo Italiano told media post-match. “It was a solid point.

“The fact that we’ve picked up four points away from home in two games [when] we’ve had some injury concerns and bringing back players, I’m very happy.

“The long trip is difficult. We’re lucky enough the board gave us the funds to stay over for an extended period after Macarthur, and I think it made a difference tonight.

“If we had gone home and came back, I think we would have been in all sorts, so I’m very thankful to club management for organising that for us.”

Zawada, Bozhidar Kraev and new signing Youstin Salas impressed after coming on as second-half substitutes and were unfortunate not to lead the Nix to victory.

“I thought BK (Kraev) was excellent in the pocket in drawing the fullback and making more space for Payney (Tim Payne).

“Youstin as well gave us a lot of energy in the six…even at the end where he lost the ball and he hunted a player down and chased him all the way back to the 18 yard [box], I was really happy with that.

“And I thought Oz (Zawada), on a better day with a little bit more feel, a little bit more match conditioning, I think he finishes maybe one of those chances.”

Alex Rufer … back from injury.

Two changes to starting line-up

Giancarlo Italiano made two changes to the XI which started last Sunday’s 2-1 win over Macarthur FC, with fit-again internationals Alex Rufer and Tim Payne returning in place of the injured Kosta Barbarouses and Oskar van Hattum, who was named amongst the substitutes.

The Perth Glory made a fast start to the match with fullback Riley Warland dragging a shot narrowly wide of the Phoenix goal inside the opening minute.

The Nix fashioned the next two shots at goal, with Ben Old and Fin Conchie having their efforts blocked by the Glory defence in the ninth and 12th minutes respectively.

Perth captain Adam Taggart had his first chance half a dozen minutes later, heading a right-wing cross across the face of the goal.

Wellington centre back Scott Wootton also headed wide from a corner in the 27th minute, with neither goalkeeper tested in the opening half an hour.

Wootton snuffed out Taggart’s next opportunity shortly after, blocking his shot from the edge of the six-yard box.

Ben Old was one of the Phoenix’s most dangerous players throughout and he had an effort deflect wide in the 37th minute.

The Nix registered their first shot on target soon after with Mo Al-Taay’s left-footed effort from outside the box straight at Oli Sail in the Glory goal. Payne dragged his own left-footed shot narrowly wide in the 41st minute.

Alex Paulsen made his first save shortly before halftime when Taggart found a bit of space in the Wellington box, but his shot was partially blocked by Lukas Kelly-Heald and didn’t trouble Paulsen.

The Phoenix had more of the ball to start the second half, but weren’t able to create any chances. Italiano made his first change after just eight minutes, bringing on Youstin Salas in replace of Conchie.

He made a further two substitutions an hour into the match, with Oskar Zawada and Bozhidar Kraev on in place of David Ball and Al-Taay.

The substitutes made an instant impact, with Kraev shooting with his first touch, but it was well-blocked by Perth centre back Darryl Lachman on the edge of his six-yard box.

Moments later, Zawada had a header well-blocked before Salas smashed a long-range effort narrowly over the Glory goal.

Phoenix defenders were quick to close down Perth Glory threats.

Old came closest to breaking the deadlock in the 66th minute, rattling Sail’s left-hand post with his unfavoured right foot after beating his defender one-on-one.

Payne appealed for a penalty soon after being brought down in the Perth box, but the referee waved play on.

The Glory had their first shot of note in the second half in the 69th minute when substitute David Williams blasted a shot high and wide.

Soon after, Taggart dragged a shot narrowly wide of Paulsen’s right-hand post after the ball fortunately fell to him in the Wellington box.

Williams called Paulsen into action in the 82nd minute, with the Nix ‘keeper making a regulation save at his near post.

The Phoenix almost claimed all three points. Perth defender Josh Rawlins made a great last-ditch tackle to deny Alex Rufer in the 89th minute before Sail made a spectacular save with his right hand to keep out a strong header from Zawada.

It was to be the final goalscoring opportunity, with both sides forced to settle for a share of the spoils.

The Wellington Phoenix will turn their attention to next Sunday’s match against Adelaide United at Sky Stadium.

 Match highlights


Game played on Saturday February 24, 2024

Perth Glory 0
Wellington Phoenix 0


Table at 5am (NZT) Sunday February 25.


Perth Glory

1. Oli SAIL (gk), 3. Jacob MUIR (19. Trent OSTLER 60′), 7. Stefan COLAKOVSKI (9. David WILLIAMS 61′), 14. Riley WARLAND, 15. Aleksandar SUSNJAR, 16. Josh RAWLINS (27. Jayden GORMAN 90+1′), 20. Giordano COLLI, 22. Adam TAGGART (co-c), 23. Daniel BENNIE (31. Joel ANASMO 70′), 29. Darryl LACHMAN, 77. Bruce KAMAU

Substitutes not used: 11.Adam ZIMARINO, 13. Cameron COOK (gk), 34. Andriano LEBIB

Yellow cards: Muir, Colli, Rawlins, Kamau, Susnjar

Wellington Phoenix

40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 3. Finn SURMAN, 4. Scott WOOTTON, 5. Fin CONCHIE (17. Youstin SALAS 54′), 6. Tim PAYNE, 8. Ben OLD, 10. David BALL (11. Bozhidar KRAEV 61′), 12. Mo AL-TAAY (9. Oskar ZAWADA 61′), 14. Alex RUFER (c), 18. Lukas KELLY-HEALD, 26. Isaac HUGHES

Substitutes not used: 23. Luke SUPYK, 24. Oskar VAN HATTUM, 25. Jack DUNCAN (gk), 43. Matt SHERIDAN

Yellow card: Zawada


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