Soccer: Courageous Phoenix survive Roar attack

By Daniel Richardson

Tim Brown of the Phoenix celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal. Photo / Getty Images
Tim Brown of the Phoenix celebrates with team mates after scoring a goal. Photo / Getty Images

Wellington Phoenix 1
Brisbane Roar 1

Despite going in to the game as $10 outsiders, the Wellington Phoenix held on a for a courageous 1-all draw with the Brisbane Roar at Suncorp Stadium today.

Usually playing in Australia doesn't suit the Phoenix, who prefer the surrounds of their Westpac Stadium fortress in Wellington.

In what shaped up as one of the true David versus Goliath clashes of the season, the high-flying Brisbane enjoyed many attacking opportunities throughout the game.

Wellington entered the encounter on the back of three defeats - all by a solitary goal - after their season had begun with promise following a draw and a win.

Brisbane on the the other hand have rode a wave of success during an unbeaten streak of 33 games during the past year.

The defending A-League champions have been in irresistible form throughout the season with their constructive passing game and creative play.

The Phoenix went in to the game with an injury blow as Dani Sanchez was ruled out just before kick-off with a hip-flexor ailment.

His spot was taken in the starting line up by Brazilian midfielder Daniel, while Sanchez sat on the bench but didn't feature in the game.

Daniel succumbed to a hamstring complaint after a subdued performance and was subbed in the 74th minute for rookie Niko Tsattalios.

Brisbane opened the scoring after only 12 minutes when Thomas Broich's well-placed free kick found the head of Besart Berisha, who guided the ball past Phoenix goalkeeper Tony Warner.

Tim Brown, who took the field for the 100th time in the A-League, put the Phoenix on the board against the run of play in the 37th minute when he latched on to a sharp pass from Nicky Ward.

It was a well-taken finish from Brown in his 90th appearance for the Phoenix and gave them hope after they were thoroughly outplayed during the opening half hour.

The Roar enjoyed an unbelievable 75 per cent of possession during the first spell as they made all of the play but failed to take their half chances on occasion.

To their credit, the Phoenix scrambled desperately throughout the game and shut down the Roar at numerous instances.

Broich orchestrated plenty of the Brisbane attack, but too often they pushed too many passes looking for the perfect goal-scoring opportunity rather than taking on defenders and pushing their luck.

Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante had a blinder at centre back for the visitors, while Warner was busy in goal as the Roar dominated the shots on goal category of the stats sheet.

The Phoenix only offered little on the counter-attack but put plenty of men behind the ball as they did their best to hold on for a draw.

As seems to be part of any Phoenix game this season, three players picked up yellow cards with Manny Muscat, Ward and Alex Smith all receiving cautions from the referee.

The result saw Brisbane hold on to their spot at the top of the ladder, three points ahead of Sydney FC, while the Phoenix are equal-bottom with Gold Coast United.

Next on the menu for the Phoenix is a home-away-from-home game against Adelaide United at Eden Park on Saturday night.

Brisbane Roar 1 (Besart Berisha 12') Wellington Phoenix 1 (Tim Brown 37') HT: 1-1

- APNZ

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