Phoenix pick up wooden spoon

Paul Ifill of the Phoenix and Marcos Flores of the Victory compete for the ball during the round 27 A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix the Melbourne Victory. Photo / Getty Images.
Paul Ifill of the Phoenix and Marcos Flores of the Victory compete for the ball during the round 27 A-League match between the Wellington Phoenix the Melbourne Victory. Photo / Getty Images.

Wellington Phoenix 2
Melbourne Victory 3

When your season ends with the symbolic presentation of a kitchen utensil you know it's been a campaign to forget.

The Wellington Phoenix were consigned to the A-League's wooden spoon today when they were beaten 3-2 by the Melbourne Victory at a cold and windy Westpac Stadium.

This season has been one to forget in nearly every facet for the Phoenix who saw former head coach Ricki Herbert stand down, co-owners have too much say on how the team should play and everything else in between.

The Phoenix won't officially be given a wooden spoon - the term is simply metaphoric - but if the club wants to avoid another last-place finish next season they need to make some vast improvements during the winter.

They enjoyed a purple patch of brilliance mid-way through the second half today when they drew level with the Victory at 2-2 when Stein Huysegems and Jeremy Brockie both scored in quick succession but they couldn't find a winner.

Victory striker Archie Thompson, who is so often a tormenter of the Phoenix, helped himself to that winner in the 84th minute, which put an end to Wellington's hopes of forcing a result.

The opening spell in today's game was an entertaining affair despite the heavy gusts of wind that roared through the Cake Tin with no regard for where the players wanted to pass the football.

As the teams entered the stadium, the Yellow Fever supporters group unveiled a banner which read "Avoid The Spoon'', which should have served as more than enough inspiration for the home side.

The Phoenix began brightly too as they brought the usual vigour they do to home fixtures, but like too many Phoenix games this season, they conceded a soft goal early on.

Of course it was Marco Rojas who provided the Victory with the lead and the former fan favourite at the Phoenix barely celebrated the goal after he latched on to a nice cross from Connor Pain to beat Mark Paston in the 10th minute.

During the next half an hour and a bit, Victory goalkeeper Nathan Coe was the busiest man on the pitch as he made six first-half saves to keep the Phoenix scoreless.

Corey Gameiro, Leo Bertos, Huysegems and Brockie all forced the shot-stopper in to action during the first spell but couldn't find a way past the 28-year-old Australian international.

Paston, who announced his retirement from the Phoenix this morning, was given the honour of captaining the side for the day in his final game and made a sharp reflex save in the 53rd minute to keep the Wellingtonians in the contest as they tried to mount some defiance.

Paston's good work counted for little though when only minutes later Marcos Flores doubled the advantage for the Victory when he touched home a goal from a corner in the 57th minute.

The Argentine was inexcusably left completely unmarked near the back post and gave Paston little chance to save from close range as Melbourne took a 2-0 lead.

Eventually the Phoenix found their way in to the contest when they finally breached Coe after the hour mark but in the end it was Thompson who had the final say as he spoiled Paston's farewell appearance.

Melbourne Victory 3 (Marco Rojas 10, Marcos Flores 57, Archie Thompson 84) Wellington Phoenix 2 (Stein Huysegems 65, Jeremy Brockie 66) HT: 1-0


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