A last-gasp penalty has seen Adelaide United succumb to a 2-1 defeat against Wellington Phoenix at WIN Stadium on ANZAC Day.
Tomer Hemed converted a 97th minute spot-kick after Stefan Mauk had opened the scoring in impressive fashion after the interval before Ben Waine levelled proceedings seven minutes later.
The Reds were left to rue several missed chances as well as the opportunity to jump into first place on the A-League table.
Adelaide remain in third spot on 30 points after suffering just its second loss in 11 games.
Wellington caught the Reds napping inside two minutes as Waine’s header hit the crossbar from Ulises Davila’s clipped cross to the back post.
Adelaide settled and dominated possession with the Phoenix content on absorbing pressure and looking to break quickly in transition.
Davila had the best chance of the opening 45 minutes when he was played through but Joe Gauci stood tall to thwart the Mexican’s one-on-one attempt.
Craig Goodwin had Adelaide’s most promising sighting, stinging the gloves of Oliver Sail at the near post.
However, despite United’s dominance and playing at a solid tempo they were unable to penetrate Wellington’s compact defensive set-up – often forced to send crosses into the box.
Whilst chances were at a premium for the Reds in the first-half, things opened up in the second stanza.
The visitors squandered two glorious opportunities after the re-start. Tim Payne got a crucial touch to deny a certain tap-in for Tomi Juric and Goodwin put wide his follow-up attempt from Ben Halloran’s initial strike.
Mauk slotted his seventh goal of the season and first in six matches on 51 minutes, after capping off a sensational team goal to finally break Wellington’s resistance.
Goodwin then forced Oliver Sail into another strong save as he cut inside and fired a powerful attempt with his right foot.
However, the lead was momentary and Waine continued his scoring streak, capitalising on Hemed’s forward touch from Davila’s long ball which caught Jordan Elsey and George Timotheou square. The goal would stand despite questions of a handball or offside in the build-up.
Halloran responded with a far-post hit but Sail dived at full stretch to repel the danger.
In the 76th minute Sail pulled off the save of the match, diving low to his right to prevent Ryan Strain’s shot from Halloran’s cutback.
Sail’s parry would fall to Joshua Cavallo but he was unable to keep his effort down.
There would be more twists and turns in the end-to-end contest as Ufuk Talay’s side were awarded a stoppage time penalty which Hemed confidently dispatched. However, before the foul on Jaushua Sotirio, there appeared to be a handball.
Carl Veart announced an unchanged line-up for the clash while Kusini Yengi returned to the bench after missing the last three games with a hamstring issue.
2’ | CHANCE: Waine’s header smacks the crossbar from Davila’s cross towards the back post.
15’ | SAVE! Gauci stands tall to deny Davila’s one-on-one finish.
51’ | GOAL! Mauk starts and finishes off an incisive passing move to open the scoring.
58’ | GOAL: Hemed and Timotheou tangle following a ball over the top from Davila and it falls to Waine who rounds Gauci and scores.
76’ | CHANCE! Halloran’s cut back finds Strain and his shot is kept out by a low save before Cavallo skies over on the follow up.
90+7’ | GOAL: Hemed converts the penalty after Gauci catches Sotirio late from the corner.
Sunday, 25 April 2021
A-League 2020/21 – Matchweek 18
Wellington Phoenix 2 (Waine 58’, Hemed (p) 90+7’)
Adelaide United 1 (Mauk 51’)
Venue: WIN Stadium