Fiery Phoenix draw keeps Western’s top-six hopes alive
Ten-men Western United have secured an all-important point in the race for the top six, hanging on to a 1-1 draw with Wellington in Launceston.
In a tense and physical affair, both sides were unable to replicate their five-goal thriller in Wollongong just two-weeks prior – as chances were few and far between.
Ben Waine opened the scoring for Wellington inside the opening ten minutes before Lachie Wales equalised soon after.
Western were reduced to ten men when Brendan Hamill was sent-off on the stroke of halftime.
The draw places Western only a single point behind Western Sydney with two games in hand while Wellington are a further two points behind.
Waine, who only 11 days ago scored the winner against Western, bopped up yet again to give Wellington an early advantage – latching onto Ulises Davila’s inch-perfect cross and flicking it expertly past Ryan Scott.
Against the run of play, United found their avenue back into the game as Connor Pain’s ball found Wales and in among a sea of Phoenix defenders, the forward somehow curled his effort into the back of the net.
As the first-half came to a close, Brendan Hamill was given his marching orders after his elbow collided with Waine’s chin – capping off a feisty opening 45 minutes which saw six bookings.
Both sides were unable to shoot ahead in the second-half and create a multitude of chances in the final 45 as Western held firm against a late Wellington barrage of chances.
The closest of the lot came from Davila when his shot fired off the woodwork in the dying moments.
Hamill was sent from the field just before halftime.Source:Getty Images
The Launceston air may have been icy-cold but the action on the field was piping-hot.
Both Wellington and Western engaged in a physical affair from the off as both teams raised the temperature with a series of heavy tackles and fouls – keeping referee Alex King busy who handed out nine yellow cards.
King also controversially sent off Brendan Hamill after his elbow collided with Ben Waine on the way down from a header.
WAINE’S WORLD TOUR
Ben Waine is in some scoring form at the moment.
The 19-year-old striker continued his recent scoring surge, scoring his third goal in three games which made it five goals for the season and has ultimately locked his place in the ‘Nix starting XI for the run home.
Not only that, his form will keep him right in the mix for a call-up to New Zealand’s Olympic side – a team he scored eight goals for in helping them qualify for Tokyo.
One of the A-League’s greatest stalwarts ticked off yet another milestone as Andrew Durante lined up in his 350th game.
It was only fitting that his milestone game was against the side he played the bulk of his A-League appearances for in Wellington, who he represented 273 times over an 11-year period across the Tasman.
The 38-year-old, who also sits sixth in the all-time Australian national league appearances with 408, was solid at the back, marshalling the defence alongside the in-form Tomoki Imai.
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