Melbourne City 2
Wellington Phoenix 1
The Phoenix are ruing missed chances after failing to build on a halftime lead and then conceding two late goals in a loss to Melbourne City last night.
At first glance, the odds appeared against the Phoenix getting anything in a state where they had won just three of 27 previous visits. City climbed to third with this victory, while Wellington remain six points adrift at the bottom of the A-League table.
But dig a little deeper and this was a prime opportunity for the Phoenix to earn a positive result. After starting the season with four wins, City had collected just seven points from a possible 27 — only one more than the Phoenix over the same time frame – and had lost three in a row.
And exactly like the Phoenix, Melbourne City have farewelled an assistant coach (Michael Valkanis) and a high-profile player (Tim Cahill) in controversial circumstances in the past few weeks.
The most recently departed Phoenix player, Dario Vidosic, made his Melbourne City debut last night in the kind of quirk that made a goal against his former club seem likely. But one of the few consolations for the Phoenix from this match was that Vidosic was ineffective and ultimately substituted.
Vidosic's performance was typical of his new team's for the first 60 minutes. Wellington set up to hit the hosts on the counter-attack, and all was going according to plan when Roy Krishna scored just before the break off a long ball from Tom Doyle. City dominated first-half possession but did little with it and were booed off by many of their 5000 fans.
The goal was Krishna's 30th for the Phoenix since his first almost four years ago and he is just the second player to reach that milestone, after Paul Ifill. The Fijian was a constant threat, particularly when his pace was combined with his side's counter-attacking tactics.
The Phoenix missed chances to double their lead in the second half, with Andrija Kaludjerovic the worst offender. He went closest with a 56th-minute header that bounced up on to the underside of the crossbar.
Wellington's hopes of a second win this season disappeared when Ross McCormack scored at the far post in the 72nd and 80th minutes off crosses from lively 19-year-old substitute Daniel Arzani, one from the right and one from the left.
The other notable feature of this match for the Phoenix was the return of Nathan Burns, who got on for the last 20 minutes.
Wellington have little time to recover, with the club hosting Melbourne Victory at Westpac Stadium on Wednesday night.
Melbourne City 2 (R. McCormack 72, 80) Wellington Phoenix 1 (R. Krishna 42). Halftime: 0-1.