Soccer: Phoenix hammered in Adelaide

By Daniel Richardson

Adelaide United celebrate a goal in their 5-1 win over the Phoenix. Photo / Getty Images
Adelaide United celebrate a goal in their 5-1 win over the Phoenix. Photo / Getty Images

Adelaide 5 Phoenix 1
You don't know what you're going to get from the Wellington Phoenix at the moment.
Beaten 5-0 by the bottom-placed Melbourne Heart on their home ground three weeks ago, they then bounced back with a 4-1 win over Central Coast away from home last Friday.

But they found their way back to the other end of the spectrum last night as they were hammered 5-1 by Adelaide United in South Australia.

Although Wellington have mixed their form this month they had also collected 22 of the 30 points available to them from their past 10 games.

Adelaide were also a team who had enjoyed a nice run of late and came in to the contest sitting fifth on the A-League ladder.

Wellington are hovering just outside the top six of the points table and need to produce a decent finish to the season to earn a playoff spot.

Coping with the loss of defensive midfielder Albert Riera has been a problem for Wellington lately and they again missed his presence last night.

While Manny Muscat is an able stop-gap, Riera had carved a notable niche for himself as a player who held space in the midfield and allowed the creativity of Carlos Hernandez to flow in front of him.

Muscat's move to the midfield has also prompted a recall for left back Reece Caira who has experienced mixed fortunes lately.

It was down the flanks where the Phoenix were really at sea during the first spell as Adelaide's wide men Jeronimo Neumann and Fabio Ferreira created plenty of problems.

Neumann grabbed Adelaide's first goal in the 23rd with an unstoppable dipping shot over Phoenix goalkeeper Glen Moss, while Ferreira laid on the home side's second as Cirio finished from close range just before the half-hour mark.

After conceding their second goal, Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick had seen enough as he pulled the inconsistent Tyler Boyd and summoned teenager Matthew Ridenton to help plug the midfield for Wellington.

Hernandez was unable to work his way in to the contest all night as the Phoenix were completely dominated through the middle, which meant there was no service for striker Stein Huysegems up front.

The Phoenix had lost nine of their past 12 trips to Coopers Stadium in Adelaide and they did nothing to repair that record as the home side continued their parade with a pair of goals mid-way through the second spell.

The biggest concern for Merrick would have been the manner in which they were scored as the Phoenix were found wanting down the left flank.

Some sympathy can be given for how they conceded their third though as Caira was down with a suspected broken cheek bone and despite Merrick's moves to make a substitution, he was unable to make a change as Wellington boxed on with 10 men as Adelaide took advantage.

That goal aside, Wellington had no excuses during a game they were thoroughly outplayed by a rampant Adelaide outfit.

Although Kenny Cunningham pulled one back for the visitors, Merrick was given a notable headache when Muscat was shown a red card for picking up his second yellow in the 73rd minute.

That means Muscat won't be available for Wellington's next game when they host Perth on Sunday, March 9.

Merrick will have to further juggle his midfield when the Glory come to the capital, while left back Caira may also be set for a stint on the sidelines through injury.

Adelaide United 5 (Jeronimo Neumann 23, 62, Cirio 29, Fabio Ferreira 62, Awer Mabil 90+2) Wellington Phoenix 1 (Kenny Cunningham 67) Halftime: 2-0

- APNZ

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