Phoenix women salvage some late pride after costly first half in Melbourne

posted in: A-League (Women), News

The Wellington Phoenix have been unable to recover from a lacklustre first-half showing and have succumbed to their 10th defeat of the 2023-24 Liberty A-League.

The Phoenix were beaten 5-3 by Melbourne Victory at the Home of the Matildas in Melbourne, after trailing 4-0 at halftime.

Main photo: It was a frustrating day for Phoenix goalkeeper Rylee Foster.

Head coach Paul Temple is at a loss to explain his side’s first-half performance.

“The first half was probably the furthest away from where we want to be,” Temple told media post-match. “There was very little belief in what we were doing, and we conceded some really sloppy goals.

“It was very, very disappointing and the girls were extremely disappointed with themselves as well. We didn’t really put anything together and they’ve got such great players that were really hurting us.

“We spoke at halftime about what we want to be and the identity that we want. In the second half I thought there was a really good response. They really took the game to Victory … and we scored three good goals and probably could have had some more.

“I’m proud of the fact that we made that game into something … and in the end it was not as horrible as it was in the first half.”

The result leaves the Nix 10th on the A-League ladder, five points adrift of the last of the finals places.

“Five games to go, we need to probably get four wins and draw as a minimum to stand a chance.

“But football’s crazy [and] you can’t really predict results in this league. There’s always some kind of upset or result that people aren’t expecting.

“If we can continue the momentum from the second half into Friday night against Perth and play like that, we can go and beat Perth and all of a sudden we’re back at home for three of the last four games.”

Paul Temple … ‘It was very, very disappointing.’

Three changes to starting line-up

Paul Temple made three changes to the XI which started the 3-0 defeat to Western United before the international break with Football Ferns Mackenzie Barry, Macey Fraser and Michaela Foster returning to the starting line-up. Goalkeeper Brianna Edwards and fit-again forward Mariana Speckmaier were named among the substitutes.

Emma Main had the first shot on target nine minutes into the match but it was to be one of the few bright moments in the first half for the Phoenix.

Moments later, they found themselves a goal down when Victory midfielder Beattie Goad slipped in between two Wellington defenders and nodded home an Emily Gielnik cross.

Goalkeeper Rylee Foster is unable to stop a Victory goal.

Melbourne Victory are the most dangerous team in the A-League from set pieces this season, and they soon showcased their prowess.

Tori Hansen bundled home their second in the 17th minute after the Nix were unable to deal with a right-wing corner at their near post.

The hosts scored a near identical goal 18 minutes later, with Goad scoring her second after Gielnik flicked on a near post corner.

Alex Chidiac made it 4-0 on the stroke of halftime when she blasted a left-footed shot in off the underside of the crossbar and Phoenix goalkeeper Rylee Foster.

Temple made a double change at halftime, bringing on Michaela Robertson and Tiana Jaber in place of fullbacks Zoe McMeeken and Hailey Davidson, and the Nix made a bright start to the second half.

Alyssa Whinham forced a quality save from Victory ‘keeper Courtney Newbon in the 49th minute when Whinham broke from midfield and unleashed a shot from outside the box.

Newbon made a more regulation save soon after to deny another long-range Wellington shot, this time from Macey Fraser.

She was unable to prevent the Phoenix from getting on the score sheet in the 57th minute when Victory defender Jamilla Rankin headed a corner into her own net.

The Phoenix score in the second half.

The hosts restored their four goal advantage soon after when Rachel Lowe slotted past Foster.

The Nix however didn’t drop their heads and continued to play with positive intent.

Courtney Newbon made two quality saves in the 89th minute to deny substitutes Helena Errington and Robertson.

Robertson could not be stopped from the resulting corner, pouncing on a loose ball and smashing a shot past Newbon and into the roof of the net.

Wellington made it 5-3 shortly after the restart with Whinham teeing up another substitute in Speckmaier, who curled a first-time shot into the right-hand corner.

The Venezuela international had another shot in time added on but was unable to find the target and set up a dramatic finish.

The Wellington Phoenix will travel to Perth on Monday to prepare to play the seventh-placed Glory on Friday night.

Match highlights


Game played on Sunday March 3, 2024

Melbourne Victory 5 (Beattie Goad 10′, 35′, Tori Hansen 17′, own goal 45′, Rachel Lowe 64′)
Wellington Phoenix 3 (Own goal 57′, Michaela Robertson 90′, Mariana Speckmaier 90+1′)


Table at 8pm (NZT) on Sunday March 3.


Melbourne Victory

50. Courtney NEWBON (gk), 2. Jamilla RANKIN, 3. Tori HANSEN, 4. Sara D’APPOLONIA, 6. Beattie GOAD (22. Ava BRIEDIS 88th), 9. Emily GIELNIK (13. Kurea OKINO 76th), 10. Alexandra CHIDIAC, 15. Emma CHECKER, 16. Paige ZOIS (27. Rosie CURTIS 69th), 18. Kayla MORRISON (c), 23. Rachel LOWE (19. Lia PRIVITELLI 69th).

Unused substitutes: 66. Geo CANDY (gk).

Wellington Phoenix

1. Rylee FOSTER (gk), 2. Zoe MCMEEKEN (14. Michaela ROBERTSON 46th), 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 6. Macey FRASER (27. Helena ERRINGTON 71st), 7. Isabel COX, 10. Alyssa WHINHAM, 11. Hope BRESLIN, 13. Michaela FOSTER (c), 18. Hailey DAVIDSON (26. Tiana JABER 46th), 20. Emma MAIN (17. Mariana SPECKMAIER 61st), 23. Rebecca LAKE.

Unused substitutes: 12 Brianna EDWARDS (gk).


4. Sara D’APPOLONIA (Melbourne Victory) – yellow – 85′
13. Kurea OKINO (Melbourne Victory) – yellow – 87′


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