Phoenix go top again after 3-2 win against Adelaide United in men’s A-League

posted in: A-League (Men), News

The Wellington Phoenix have restored their three-point lead at the top of the Isuzu UTE A-League.

The Phoenix have beaten Adelaide United 3-2 at Sky Stadium in Wellington to move a win clear of defending champions Central Coast Mariners.

Ben Old scored a brace for the Nix either side of Oskar van Hattum’s maiden A-League goal.

Main photo: Scott Wootton (left) is the first to congratulate goalscorer Ben Old. Photo credit: Natural Light Photography Company.

Van Hattum found the back of the net within a minute of coming off the bench after head coach Giancarlo Italiano made a quadruple substitution to try and break a 1-1 deadlock.

“I said ‘I’m not happy with the draw, I need to win the game here because we’re at home and we need to take the initiative’,” Italiano told media post-match.

“The way the game was going at that time I just felt the group needed that injection and my objective was to win the game.

“Because we’re a team first and a collective I had no doubt that when those boys came on they were going to give 100%. That was what we needed at the time and they did very well.

“I felt as though Oskar van Hattum and Kosta [Barbarouses] are great subs to come off the bench.

“And Fin Conch (Conchie) coming on in the middle [I thought] he’d give us a little bit with the ball and he’s the one that pinched the ball for the first goal so I was very happy.

“I’m very happy with Oskar van Hattum scoring his first goal as well. I think he deserves it. He’s been doing exceptionally well.”

Oskar van Hattum pounces to score his first-ever A-League goal.

Wellington now have 40 points, just one shy of the tally the Phoenix managed in the 2019-20 season, when they finished a club-best third on the ladder.

And there are still seven rounds remaining this campaign, with 21 more points up for grabs.

“I think we’re established in the six now. I’m not sure if it’s mathematically impossible that we miss the six, but I think we’ve done that job there.

“I think the next goal now is to make sure we lock up that top four which is very, very important and then we go from there.”

Giancarlo Italiano made two changes to the XI which started last week’s scoreless draw in Perth, with new signing Youstin Salas and Bulgarian playmaker Bozhidar Kraev replacing academy graduates Fin Conchie and Isaac Hughes in the starting line-up.

Italiano was forced to make a change to his bench after the warm-up with young fullback Matt Sheridan replacing Oskar Zawada.

The Phoenix struggled to find their rhythm in the first half.

Centre back Scott Wootton registered the Nix’s first shot in the 11th minute and it was well-blocked by an Adelaide defender.

Wellington’s next shot came another 11 minutes later when Old burst into the box but his opportunity was well snuffed out.

Adelaide too had a few opportunities in the opening half an hour but none of them tested Phoenix goalkeeper Alex Paulsen.

Photo credit: Natural Light Photography Company.

Ben Old broke the offside trap and the stalemate with a well-taken right-footed shot in the 36th minute.

Old was initially flagged for offside but after intervention from the video assistant referee the goal was awarded.

The Reds had the next four goalscoring opportunities, but they were still unable to threaten Paulsen’s goal.

Kraev should have doubled the Nix’s lead in first half stoppage time after some clever build-up play from Old and David Ball but the Bulgarian found the wrong side of the Adelaide post.

Paulsen ensured Wellington led at halftime by making a couple of clutch saves, the first of which was acrobatic to deny Austin Ayoubi.

The Reds were given the chance to draw themselves level a quarter of an hour into the second half when Phoenix captain Alex Rufer was deemed to have fouled Harry van der Saag in the box.

Fellow Adelaide forward Luka Jovanovic stepped up to the spot and fired home the penalty in off the left post.

Kraev rattled the left post at the other end of the pitch shortly after but unfortunately for him it rebounded away from goal.

From the resulting possession, Tim Payne headed a Kraev cross straight at Adelaide ‘keeper James Delianov.

Italiano then went to his bench, bringing on Barbarouses, van Hattum, Conchie and Sam Sutton.

Seconds after coming on three of the four combined with Old to set up Wellington’s second, ultimately scored by van Hattum.

Sutton produced a good save from Delianov soon after and from the resulting corner Old rifled home the Nix’s third goal, this time with his favoured left foot.

Substitute Hiroshi Ibusuki scored a consolation goal for the Reds in the fourth minute of second half stoppage time but Adelaide were unable to prevent the Phoenix from taking all three points.

The Wellington Phoenix will be back across the Tasman next weekend to play Melbourne City on Saturday night.

Match highlights


Game played on Sunday March 3, 2024

Wellington Phoenix 3 (Ben Old 34′, 78′, Oskar van Hattum 69′)
Adelaide United 2 (Luka Jovanovic 60′ pen, Hiroshi Ibusuki 90+4′)


Table at 9pm (NZT) on Sunday March 3.


Wellington Phoenix

40. Alex PAULSEN (gk), 3. Finn SURMAN, 4. Scott WOOTTON, 6. Tim PAYNE, 8. Ben OLD, 10. David BALL (26. Isaac HUGHES 76th), 11. Bozhidar KRAEV (7. Kosta BARBAROUSES 69th), 12. Mohamed AL-TAAY (5. Fin CONCHIE 69th), 14. Alex RUFER (c), 17. Youstin SALAS (24. Oskar VAN HATTUM 69th), 18. Lukas KELLY-HEALD (19. Sam SUTTON 69th).

Unused substitutes: 25. Jack DUNCAN (gk), 43. Matthew SHERIDAN.

Adelaide United

1. James DELIANOV (gk), 2. Harry VAN DER SAAG (66. Nestory IRANKUNDA 70th) 3. Ben WARLAND, 6. Stefan MAUK, 7. Ryan KITTO (c), 8. ISAIAS, 17. Luka JOVANOVIC (9. Hiroshi IBUSUKI 61st), 42. Austin AYOUBI (19. Yaya DUKULY, 61st), 43. Giuseppe BOVALINA, 51. Panagiotis KIKIANIS, 55. Ethan ALAGICH (37. Jonny YULL 70th).

Unused substitutes: 40. Ethan COX (gk), 21. Javi LOPEZ, 22. Ryan TUNNICLIFFE.


8. ISAIAS (Adelaide United) – yellow – 54′
3. Ben WARLAND (Adelaide United) – yellow – 76′
66. Nestory IRANKUNDA (Adelaide United) – yellow – 90+2′


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