Phoenix rise up against Sydney

Sydney FC has suffered its first home defeat of the Hyundai A-League season with an 89th minute Shane Smeltz penalty snatching all the points for the Wellington Phoenix tonight at the Sydney Football Stadium.

Sydney FC has suffered its first home defeat of the Hyundai A-League season with an 89th minute Shane Smeltz penalty snatching all the points for the Wellington Phoenix tonight at the Sydney Football Stadium.

The Phoenix might have been at the bottom of the table heading into tonight-s game but they-ve proven something of a bogey side for John Kosmina-s men this-season and the Sydney mentor admitted they were just too good on the night.

“They came here to have a fight, they were up for it,” he said after the match. “The Kiwi-s pressed us, they overloaded us in midfield and we struggled to find our feet, couldn-t keep the ball and credit to them.”

John Kosmina made no secret of his disappointment during the week after his side was held to an unlikely draw by the Mariners last Saturday, but Sydney started without the spark or fire he would-ve hoped for as a response.

In a half bereft of creativity, the Sky Blues- best chance came off a clumsy piece of Wellington defending. Alex Brosque stole the ball after a communication breakdown between Ben Sigmund and Phoenix keeper, Mark Paston, but the Sydney striker couldn-t find the target.

The crowd came to life for the first time when Steve Corica, Sydney-s most likely player for most of the match, beat Tony Lochhead with a classy turn before launching a thirty metre switch of play.

Alex Brosque-s centre was cleared, but only as far as Terry McFlynn, who stung Paston-s gloves with a follow-up volley.

It was Wellington, though, that struck the first blow, with the visitors opening the scoring with their first real opportunity of the game on 33 minutes.

Tim Brown found space down the right and fizzed a wicked cross into the Sky Blue penalty area, where Leo Bertos was on hand to head home neatly from the six-yard box and give his team a one goal advantage.

The home side needed to up the ante at the start of the second stanza but was lucky not to fall further behind with Lochhead and Bertos each wasting golden opportunities to score in quick succession, both blasting the ball into the side netting around an hour into the game.

With the healthy Sky Blue crowd getting restless, their team finally began to dictate the play with around 20 left on the clock.

Birthday boy, Mark Bridge came close with a curling free-kick that fooled many when it rebounded into the side netting, but Sydney-s best move of the match came two minutes later when Bridge slid a ball to Terry McFlynn on the edge of the area.

The Northern Irishman set himself with a good first touch, but couldn-t reproduce last week-s heroics as his shot sprayed wide of the mark.

The spell of pressure earned Sydney a reprieve when Paston misjudged Stuart Musialik-s skidding 30 metre drive, allowing the hosts to finally level the ledger.

FC lifted on the back of the equaliser but Bertos issued a late warning that Wellington wasn-t done when he flew past Antony Golec and fired his shot across the face.

With just under two minutes of regulation time left on the clock Shane Smeltz peeled off to the right and sent a hopeful ball back across the box.

Ivan Necevski-s smart reflexes kept out what initially looked like an ordinary deflection, but the linesman called Sydney captain, Tony Popovic for a hand-ball and Smeltz made no mistake with the resulting penalty, giving the Phoenix a rare double against the Sky Blues and creating even more congestion on a tight Hyundai A-League ladder.

Sydney now has two weeks to regroup thanks to the FIFA international break, before resuming its campaign on the road against Adelaide United.

“You-re going to go through bad times, you-re going to go through bad games where things don-t work for you,” said John Kosmina. “You live with that, take it on the jaw and we dust ourselves off, we go to Adelaide in two weeks time and see what we can do down there.”

Match Detail

Sydney FC 1 (Stuart Musialik 77-)
Wellington Phoenix 2 (Leo Bertos 33-, Shane Smeltz 89- pen)

Sydney FC: 20. Ivan Necevski (gk), 5. Mitchell Prentice, 6. Tony Popovic (c), 8. Stuart Musialik, 10. Steve Corica, 12. Shannon Cole (2. Iain Fyfe 62-), 14. Alex Brosque (23. John Aloisi 74-), 15. Terry McFlynn, 19. Mark Bridge, 29. Beau Busch, 31. Anthony Golec.

Substitutes not used: 1. Clint Bolton (gk), 28. Bobby Petta.

Yellow Cards: nil.
Red Cards: nil.
Goals: Musialik 77′.

Wellington Phoenix: 1. Mark Paston (gk), 3. Tony Lochhead, 4. Jonathan McKain (c), 5. Karl Dodd, 6. Tim Brown, 7. Leo Bertos (8. Vaughan Coveny 90+1-), 9. Shane Smeltz, 10. Michael Ferrante, 13. Troy Hearfield, 18. Ben Sigmund, 25. Emmanuel Muscat.

Substitutes not used: 20. Glen Moss (gk), 11. Daniel Cortes, 23. Costa Barbarouses.

Yellow Cards: nil.
Red Cards: nil.
Goals: Bertos 33′, Smeltz 89’pen.

Referee: Craig Zetter.
Crowd: 12,856.