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Phoenix Women rout Adelaide United

The Wellington Phoenix Women have emphatically kept their A-League Women finals hopes alive by recording their biggest win of the 2023-24 season.

The Phoenix Women have bounced back from their disappointing 4-2 defeat to Sydney FC on Sunday to beat Adelaide United 4-0 in their rescheduled round 16 match at Porirua Park in Wellington.

Kate Taylor, Michaela Robertson and Michaela Foster scored second-half goals after Mariana Speckmaier gave the Nix a slender 1-0 halftime lead.

The result lifts Wellington to eighth on the ladder, five points outside the top-six with two rounds remaining.

“It was a really good performance,” Phoenix head coach Paul Temple said. “I thought everyone from back to front was really good.

“It was a good response. Definite change in energy and intensity and we talked about making a mark on the game, and I thought we started well and then in the second half we particularly were quite dominant.

“I loved the energy. That’s how I want the team to play. Some of the short passing combinations through the middle at the start of the second half were really enjoyable to watch.”

Wellington Phoenix Women
The Wellington Phoenix Women scored three second-half goals in a 4-0 shutout of Adelaide United. PHOTO: WELLINGTON PHOENIX

Temple was pleased his side kicked on in the second half.

“We’re not great at 1-nil leads this season. We’ve given up some one goal leads [but] as soon as we go two goals in front we haven’t lost.

“We’ve been in that situation a number of times and not come out with the win, so to come out, dominate the second half [and] score another three goals was big.

“We’ll go to Canberra now and we’ll be fizzing, and the team will be ready.”

Temple made four changes to the XI which started Sunday’s 4-2 defeat to Melbourne Victory, with Hailey Davidson, Kate Taylor, Emma Main and Isabel Cox returning to the side in place of Hope Breslin, Daisy Brazendale, Michaela Robertson and Manaia Elliott. Breslin, Robertson and Elliott were named among the substitutes.

The Phoenix had the better of the early possession but weren’t able to turn it into a goal-scoring opportunity inside the opening 10 minutes.

Instead the visitors had the first chance in the fourth minute when Adelaide midfielder Dylan Holmes drove from inside her half and shot from the top right of the Wellington box. Goalkeeper Rylee Foster was untroubled by the effort, making a regulation save down to her right.

The Nix looked dangerous throughout the first half from corners, with Michaela Foster’s delivery in the 12th minute troubling Adelaide before they eventually cleared the danger.

Moments later Mariana Speckmaier gave the Phoenix the lead, calmly slotting her shot past Claudia Jenkins in Adelaide’s goal after Macey Fraser had won possession high up the pitch.

It was Speckmaier’s 10th goal of the season and seventh in her last seven games.

Cox called Jenkins into action again midway through the half when she beat her defender one-on-one on the edge of the box and shot from a tight angle.

Adelaide’s ‘keeper did well to keep out another shot soon after, this time from Speckmaier who got more power behind her effort.

Rylee Foster made the best save of them all in the 29th minute, producing an acrobatic effort to keep out a long-range attempt from Reds captain Isabel Hodgson.

But overall, it was Wellington who looked more likely to score next before halftime.

Speckmaier headed narrowly wide from a left-wing corner in the 36th minute and the Phoenix threatened from a couple more set pieces before the break, but ultimately weren’t able to double their lead.

The Nix made a bright start to the second half and began to get their short passing game going with more regularity.

Taylor blazed over the bar,  Alyssa Whinham rattled the left post and Fraser struck a shot on target from outside the box all within 10 minutes of halftime.

Wellington got the reward for their dominance in the 59th minute when Kate Taylor fired home from six yards out after the Reds were unable to deal with Michaela Foster’s right-wing cross.

Taylor could have had another a couple of minutes later but she and Mackenzie Barry got in each other’s way as they queued up at the back post to meet Fraser’s cross from a short corner.

Michaela Robertson made it 3-0 soon after, tapping home from a couple of yards out after being teed up by Emma Main, who broke down the left wing and produced an inch-perfect cutback from the byline.

Robertson had only been on the pitch for a handful of minutes, having replaced Speckmaier.

Taylor and Whinham made way soon after and were replaced by Zoe McMeeken and Hope Breslin. Manaia Elliott was also brought off the bench for the final quarter of hour, coming on for Fraser.

Elliott had a couple of shots blocked and that was the closest the Phoenix came to scoring a fourth goal in normal time.

Stand-in captain Michaela Foster then capped the stellar team performance in the first minute of time added on, smashing home Wellington’s fourth after Robertson’s cross had evaded Elliott, Main and the Adelaide defence.

The Phoenix Women are back in action in Canberra United on Sunday for their third match in eight days. They will need to win again to keep their finals hopes alive, but first they need Western Sydney Wanderers to slip up against Western United and for the Newcastle Jets to fail to beat Melbourne Victory. Both of those matches are on Saturday.

Wellington Phoenix Women 4 (Mariana Speckmaier 13', Kate Taylor 59', Michaela Robertson 65', Michaela Foster 90+1') Adelaide United Women 0. HT: 1-0


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