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2021-22 Australian A-League Men, Regular Season
  • Gary Hooper (48')
  • Jaushua Sotirio (63')
  • Marco Ureña (52')

Wellington Phoenix down Central Coast Mariners for first A-League Men win

The Wellington Phoenix claimed their first win of the A-League Men season, defeating the Central Coast Mariners 2-1 at Wollongong's WIN Stadium.

After struggling to deal with the Mariners' attacking threat in the first half, the Phoenix sparked into life when Gary Hooper scored from a corner just after the break. Central Coast instantly responded through Costa Rican Marco Urena, but a 63rd-minute effort from Jaushua Sotirio put Wellington ahead once more.

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Ben Waine missed a penalty in the 85th minute which would have put the game beyond doubt, but the Phoenix hung on to secure their first win at their home away from home.

It was the Mariners who enjoyed the better of the first-half chances with Damian Tsekenis brought in to partner Urena up top. Josh Nisbet dropped on to the right flank as Cy Goddard went to the left and it was down Nisbet's side where the Mariners enjoyed the most success.

After handling Wellington's early surges, Nisbet and Storm Roux continued to ask questions down the Phoenix's left. But the best Central Coast could come up with were three long-range efforts from Oliver Bozanic, all of which were dealt with comfortably by Oliver Sail.

Sotirio and Hooper both had opportunities for the Phoenix but neither troubled Mark Birighitti. Hooper, though, had better luck after the break when Mariners defender Kye Rowles failed to clear a Phoenix corner in the 48th minute.

The Englishman was on hand to bundle past Birighitti, who had fallen to the turf, with the goal being awarded after a lengthy VAR check.

The lead lasted just four minutes. Josh Laws fluffed at a ball over the top that allowed Urena to nip in and slot past Sail.

Central Coast pushed in search of a second, but Wellington went up the other end to find the Mariners defence in a state of disarray. Sotirio was left open on the edge of the box and after pausing to control the ball, fired an effort off the legs of 19-year-old left back Jacob Farrell and past Birighitti into the net.

Bozanic and substitute Matthew Hatch tried to pull the Mariners level again but the Phoenix had the chance to wrap up the three points when Rowles felled Ben Old in the box.

With Hooper off the field, Reno Piscopo and Waine debated who would take the penalty. The latter did but was unable to convert as Birighitti saved to his right.