Football: Sigmund and Muscat bow out with defeat

By Kris Shannon

Wellington Phoenix 0 Western Sydney Wanderers 2
Ben Sigmund wore the captain's armband in his final appearance for the Phoenix. Photo / Getty
Ben Sigmund wore the captain's armband in his final appearance for the Phoenix. Photo / Getty

The Wellington Phoenix careers of Ben Sigmund and Manny Muscat ended with a whimper, appropriately enough given the campaign they had just endured.

The two stalwarts were yesterday farewelled with defeat against the Western Sydney Wanderers at Westpac Stadium, a loss that saw the Phoenix finish the season in ninth spot with seven victories from 27 games.

While Sigmund missed plenty of time through injury, both he and Muscat were part of a defence that shipped 54 goals - the second-most in the A-League - and struggled to keep the Phoenix relevant in a competition set for an exciting finals series.

The campaign was an unfortunate way for the tenures of Sigmund and Muscat to conclude, especially since the pair had combined for more than 360 appearances for the club. Sigmund is heading into retirement and Muscat is off to Melbourne City; both will be remembered as Phoenix legends.

But they were powerless to stop the Wanderers from leapfrogging Brisbane into second spot on the A-League ladder, with a first-half double-strike from Brendon Santalab sealing the points.

The Phoenix did threaten throughout, though, as both Michael McGlinchey and Roly Bonevacia were denied by the inside of the woodwork. The home side offered plenty of attacking enterprise and enjoyed more play in the final third, but the left-hand post and goalkeeper Andrew Redmayne combined to keep the Wanderers' sheet clean.

A rasping Blake Powell drive was repelled by a stunning save from Redmayne and a little more accuracy from Roy Krishna could have seen the Fijian find the net, leaving the Phoenix to rue their misfortune as Santalab decided the game.

The striker could have already earned his side a penalty, having been bundled over in the box by Tom Doyle for what looked like a legitimate spot kick, but needed no assistance from the referee for his brace.

He did, however, require a fair slice of luck for his first goal, watching gratefully as the ball rebounded off his body and barely dribble across the line, before giving his side all the ascendancy with a clinical strike on the stroke of halftime.

All that was left was for Sigmund to enjoy a ceremonial substitution and, courtesy of an errant Santalab elbow, the defender ended his career with his head swathed in bandages, a fitting adornment given the passion he always displayed.

Wellington Phoenix 0
Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Santalab 31, 44)
HT: 0-2

- NZ Herald

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