Sydney FC 1
Wellington Phoenix 0
The Wellington Phoenix have failed to find any home comforts at Campbelltown Stadium, going down 1-0 to Sydney FC in their latest A-League outing.
Playing what was theoretically a home game just an hour from downtown Sydney didn't play in Wellington's favour, a second half penalty from the competition's Golden Boot leader Adam Le Fondre settling the contest and consigning the Phoenix to a seventh loss in their last nine matches against this opposition.
With a stiff breeze at their backs, Sydney FC had the best of the first half chances but through a combination of sloppy finishing and desperate Wellington defending were unable to break the deadlock. The Sky Blues looked hungrier and were quicker to the loose ball, creating several opportunities to score.
The Phoenix's Polish goalkeeper Filip Kurto – who must surely be in the conversation to win the A-League goalkeeper of the season award – came up big early in the game, his strong right hand denying Iranian international Reza Ghoochannejhad after he was put through one-on-one by Le Fondre. The Englishman himself lobbed over from a handy position shortly afterwards, before Ghoochannejhad struck the post with Kurto beaten.
Having soaked up all that pressure, the Phoenix thought they'd taken the lead themselves in the 26th minute when Polish utility Michal Kopczynski had the ball in the net after a goalmouth scramble. However, what would have been his first A-League goal was correctly chalked off by an assistant referee's flag.
Phoenix coach Mark Rudan made just one change to his starting side, with defender Dylan Fox replacing Steven Taylor who failed a late fitness test. Unfortunately Fox's afternoon lasted just half an hour, stretchered off after flinging himself in front of an Anthony Caceres effort and copping some friendly fire to his ankle from his skipper Andrew Durante. Sadly for Fox, who was making just a third start of the campaign, the injury is likely to sideline him for the next six to eight weeks.
The Phoenix started more brightly in the second period, with David Williams guiding a shot just wide of the right-hand post before Roy Krishna was denied by a last-ditch tackle from Alex Wilkinson. On his 30th birthday, Irish striker Cillian Sheridan replaced Sarpreet Singh ten minutes into the second half but couldn't make a significant impact.
The introduction of Alex Brosque after an hour proved pivotal for Sydney FC though, the skipper winning his side a penalty after he was brought down by Kurto. Le Fondre smashed the resulting spot-kick into the roof of the net to notch his 14th goal of the season.
Wellington searched for an equaliser with energetic substitute Max Burgess coming closest, but Sydney FC were able to close out the contest and move temporarily into second place on the A-League ladder. Despite the defeat, Wellington remain sixth and now have a two-week break before a visit to the cellar-dwelling Central Coast Mariners on March 9.
Sydney FC 1 (Le Fondre pen 65')
Wellington Phoenix 0