Matildas star inspires Sydney to 4-2 A-League win against Wellington Phoenix

posted in: A-League (Women), News

The Wellington Phoenix have been unable to prevent the “Cortnee Vine show” from leaving town with all three points.

The Matildas star scored two goals, the first of which was a goal of the season contender, to lead Sydney FC to a 4-2 win over the Phoenix at Porirua Park in Wellington.

The Nix cut the deficit to 3-2 midway through the second half after trailing 3-0 but couldn’t complete the comeback.

It’s Wellington’s Liberty A-League first defeat at their new Porirua home and just their second in Aotearoa this season.

“I thought the overall performance was poor and the energy and the belief wasn’t there today,” Phoenix head coach Paul Temple told media post-match. “You could see it. There was a tentativeness about us and that hasn’t happened very often this season.

“When you do that and you’re not performing at the level that you can perform to, and when teams have got good players like they do, they punish you.

“We were just too flat-footed [and] we didn’t deal very well with balls into our box, which is really disappointing because it’s been something we’ve been trying to work on.

“We said at halftime when we were two-nil down that we were still in the game and if we can score the next goal it could all change. We got it back to 3-2 but that fourth goal took the wind out of the sails really.”

The result leaves the Nix 10th on the Liberty A-League ladder, eight points outside the top six with three matches remaining, but Temple still believes they can make the finals.

“We can’t give up hope now.

“Obviously, we need to win the last three games and we’re going to need Western United to do us a bit of a favour against Western Sydney.

“But we’ve just got to concentrate on winning on Wednesday, going away to Canberra and winning and then we’ll see what the last game of the season brings.

“Hopefully, it’s all on the line on the last day, and we can still get ourselves in there.”

Paul Temple … ‘We can’t give up hope now.’

Two changes to starting line-up

Paul Temple made two changes to the XI which started last week’s 3-1 drought-breaking road win in Perth, with Macey Fraser and Manaia Elliott coming in for Isabel Cox and the injured Rebecca Lake. Cox was named amongst the substitutes, alongside the returning Aimee Danieli and Zoe McMeeken and fit-again Football Fern Kate Taylor.

Sydney had the better of the early possession, but the Phoenix looked dangerous when they were able to break through the Sky Blues’ midfield, with Michaela Robertson Wellington’s best outlet on the right wing.

The visitors were forced to make a change inside a quarter of an hour after fullback Kirsty Fenton suffered a serious-looking injury after being wrong-footed by Robertson.

The speedy winger had the Nix’s first shot of note in the 16th minute when she burst into the Sydney box, but her effort was well-blocked.

There was no blocking Cortnee Vine’s shot shortly after, with the Matilda finding the bottom left corner with a stunning half-volley from the top of the box after Sydney FC captain Mackenzie Hawkesby had picked her out from a right-wing corner.

The Phoenix started to string together some encouraging passages of play after going behind, with Alyssa Whinham becoming increasingly influential.

But they struggled to threaten Jada Whyman in the Sky Blues’ goal, with Mariana Speckmaier’s deflected shot the only time the Sydney ‘keeper was called into action in the first half an hour.

At the other end of the pitch, Wellington goalkeeper Rylee Foster scrambled well to turn a clever header from Vine around Foster’s left-hand post.

The Sky Blues did double their lead in the 42nd minute when Tiana Jaber unfortunately turned a threatening ball from Caley Tallon-Henniker into her own net.

The Phoenix concede a goal to Sydney.

The Nix came closest to scoring a first half goal in time added on with Hope Breslin’s long-range effort forcing a good save from Whyman.

Sydney came fast out of the blocks in the second half and the Fosters, Rylee and Michaela, combined well to snuff out a big opportunity for Hawkesby.

The Sky Blues’ captain turned provider in the 56th minute, combining again with Cortnee Vine to make it 3-0. This time Vine headed home Hawkesby’s free-kick from six yards out.

Temple responded to going three goals down by making a double substitution on the hour mark, bringing on Isabel Cox and Kate Taylor in place of academy graduates Manaia Elliott and Daisy Brazendale.

Cox made a near instant impact, heading home a left-wing cross from Macey Fraser after Sydney were unable to clear Fraser’s initial corner.

Eight minutes later, Mariana Speckmaier made it 3-2 when she calmly found the back of the net after Jada Whyman was unable to deal with Cox’s chipped cross from the byline.

Unfortunately for the Phoenix, Sydney restored their two-goal cushion soon after with Jordan Thompson pouncing on the loose ball in the Wellington box following another threatening Hawkesby free-kick.

The Nix continued to push numbers forward in search of a third and Helena Errington, on as a substitute in the 69th minute, came close to scoring her maiden A-League goal. Whyman just managed to get a toe to the ball before Errington after the Sky Blues’ keeper parried away Robertson’s effort.

Jada Whyman was called upon to make a further three saves before the final whistle, the pick of which came in the fourth minute of stoppage time when she again denied Errington, who’s first-time shot was on target but just too close to the goalkeeper.

The Phoenix ultimately were unable to find a third goal which would have set up a dramatic finish.

The Wellington Phoenix are back in action at Porirua Park on Wednesday evening against Adelaide United in their rescheduled round 16 match.

Match highlights


Game played on Sunday March 17, 2024

Wellington Phoenix 2 (Isabel Cox 63′, Mariana Speckmaier 71′)
Sydney 4 (Cortnee Vine 18′, 56′, own goal 42′, Jordan Thompson 74′)


Table at 8pm (NZT) on Sunday March 17.


Wellington Phoenix

1. Rylee FOSTER (gk), 4. Mackenzie BARRY, 6. Macey FRASER, 10. Alyssa WHINHAM (27. Helena ERRINGTON 69th), 11. Hope BRESLIN, 13. Michaela FOSTER (c), 14. Michaela ROBERTSON (2. Zoe MCMEEKEN 78th), 15. Daisy BRAZENDALE (3. Kate TAYLOR 59th), 17. Mariana SPECKMAIER, 21. Manaia ELLIOTT (7. Isabel COX 60th), 26. Tiana JABER.

Unused substitutes: 22. Aimee DANIELI (gk).


1. Jada WHYMAN (gk), 2. Margaux CHAUVET, 3. Charlotte MCLEAN, 4. Tori TUMETH, 5. Kirsty FENTON (9. Shea CONNORS 14th 10. Sienna SAVESKA 90+2), 11. Cortnee VINE, 14. Abbey LEMON, 15. Mackenzie HAWKESBY (c), 16. Jordan THOMPSON, 18. Taylor RAY (8. Darcey MALONE 90+2), 24. Caley TALLON-HENNIKER (13. Aideen KEANE 63rd).

Unused substitutes: 40. Jasmine BLACK (gk).


4. Mackenzie BARRY (Wellington Phoenix) – yellow – 55′
16. Jordan THOMPSON (Sydney FC) – yellow – 85′


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

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