Phoenix break the ‘distance hoodoo’ to narrow gap at the top

Chloe Knott scores the winner for Wellington

Wellington Phoenix’s remarkable resurgence under Paul Temple has continued with the Kiwi club’s first ever Liberty A-League victory over table-topping Perth Glory.

A fourth win of the season came despite going a goal behind in the “Distance Derby”, as second-half strikes from Hope Breslin and Chloe Knott proved decisive and allowed Phoenix to bounce back from last weekend’s defeat at the Mariners.

Glory put Phoenix’s goal under intense late pressure but couldn’t build on Millie Farrow’s first goal for the club, allowing Phoenix to come within a point of their visitors on the league table.

The fact that Farrow’s goal came after 20 minutes of opening domination from Phoenix proved the resilience of Alex Epakis’s side that had carried them to the top of the table coming into this game and had kept them undefeated until this point.

The home side were attacking in waves, with Mariana Speckmaier drawing a sharp save from Morgan Aquino at her near post after cutting in from the left and Manaia Elliott driving at the Glory rearguard.

But with just about their first attack, Sofia Sakalis’s neat reverse pass found Millie Farrow in the box and though the English striker’s first touch was heavy she recovered to poke the ball past Riley Foster.

The deflation of Phoenix was palpable, and their cultured patterns began to fray as Gory took hold of the contest. Just before the break Hope Breslin’s low cross evade Spackmaier by millimetres, adding to Phoenix’s angst.

But halftime allowed Paul Temple’s side to regroup and within two minutes of the second half they were level. The goal stemmed from Phoenix’s ruthless pressing, trapping Glory in the corner then Annalie Longo transferred the ball unerringly to Breslin, all alone in the box with time to sidefoot the equaliser past Aquino.

Perth’s situation was hardly improved by Claudia Mihocic having to be withdrawn looking dazed, and Phoenix scented blood in a sporting sense.

Elliott tried an audacious effort from fully 35m that Aquino tipped over but with an hour gone the incessant pressure paid off.

Wellington were rather controversially awarded a corner which Perth half cleared, only for Michaela Foster to return the ball into the box. Speckmaier reacted quickest, heading against the bar, and Knott followed up to drive Wellington’s second goal in with her head.

Phoenix went for the kill, with Breslin firing narrowly over and then Speckmaier, played into space, sending a shot flashing across goal. Perth then threw everything at their hosts but couldn’t find a way past Foster.


Phoenix had the stuffing knocked out of them by conceding after dominating the first 20 minutes, and could easily have let Glory’s ruthlessness leave them on the canvas. But clearly Paul Temple has instilled remarkable self-belief in his side, and they came out for the second half meaning business – within two minutes they were level, and on their way to another win.


Mariana Speckmaier was at the heart of everything good that Phoenix did in attack, her movement pulling the Glory defence all over the place. Her ability to find teammates in dangerous positions is uncanny and her shot has venom. With Macey Fraser ill and unable to play, Speckmaier stepped up to provide the inspiration.


There’s gridlock near the top of the table now, with Phoenix pulling to within a point of Glory heading into the international break. Temple’s side has another home to follow this, hosting Melbourne Victory, while Glory lick their wounds in preparation for a trip to Melbourne City.