Soccer: Woodwork twice denies Stein stunner

By Kris Shannon

Jeremy Brockie of Wellington shoots at goal during the round 17 A-League match against Adelaide United at Eden Park. Photo / Getty Images
Jeremy Brockie of Wellington shoots at goal during the round 17 A-League match against Adelaide United at Eden Park. Photo / Getty Images

The Phoenix treated Eden Park to some sparkling attacking play on Saturday night but the most memorable moment of the A-League soccer match was a chance that was wasted.

Just past the half hour of Wellington's 2-1 win over Adelaide, Phoenix striker Stein Huysegems had a golden opportunity to add to his league-leading eight goals. Instead, he produced something far more spectacular.

Meeting Tyler Boyd's cross just outside the six yard box, Huysegems made a solid connection with his left foot and sent a low strike smacking against the left post. With Adelaide goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic well-beaten, the rebound flashed back to the Belgian who somehow contorted his body and made contact with his right peg.

Different foot, same result, as the ball cannoned off the bar and remained in play. Considering the quality of the move that preceded it, Huysegems had contrived to miss one of the goals of the season. Twice.

"I don't know," Huysegems said when asked for an explanation. "I hit the post and the crossbar in one second. It was unbelievable.

"I haven't seen it happen anywhere else - for me it was the first time."

It was a first for many of the seasoned observers in the press box, and replays on the big screen produced a cry from the 18,000-strong crowd that was part-amazement, part-sympathy.

Huysegems was a touch rueful when reflecting on the incident but, having claimed the three points which lifted the Phoenix into the thick of the playoff race, he understood the bigger picture.

"I was a little bit disappointed, because of course I wanted to score," he said. "I was a little bit unlucky, I think. Especially the first shot, maybe five centimetres more to the right it goes against the post and into the goal.

"But that's OK - some games you score and some games you don't. And we won, so that was the most important thing."

The win would have been by a bigger margin but for some inaccurate finishing, epitomised by Huysegems' misfortune. The striker also missed an earlier one-on-one chance but, considering the football played in the first half, it's hard to be too critical.

The Phoenix were at their fluent best for the opening 45 minutes with Carlos Hernandez pulling the strings in midfield.

Vinnie Lia's perfect through ball and Boyd's early cross created Huysegems' date with the woodwork, while Kenny Cunningham matched his compatriot for impact.

"I think we had good pressure and had a couple of chances and scored good goals - we deserved to be 2-0 in front," Huysegems said.

The win was Wellington's fifth in their last seven games and lifted them to eighth on the table, a point outside the playoff places.

Facing the two teams below them in the next fortnight, the Phoenix should soon sit inside the top six - with a little luck.

- APNZ

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