Phoenix settle for draw with Heart
Sun, 14 Oct 2012 7:03p.m.
By Guy Hand
Wellington Phoenix is without doubt the A-League's unsung hero factory.
Understrength, but never overwhelmed, the Phoenix churned out another against-the-odds performance for a gritty 1-1 draw against 10-man Melbourne Heart at AAMI Park on Sunday to stay unbeaten this season.
Minus seven players and their coach on international duty and with a team sheet of debutants and no-names, the Phoenix confounded predictions they would be hammered by the in-form Heart.
But Wellington's cause was greatly enhanced by the Heart being reduced to 10 men early in the second half when Simon Colosimo was sent off for deliberately handballing a goalbound shot.
Trailing 1-0 at the time after the Heart had the better chances throughout the first half, Paul Ifill banged home the resulting penalty to level the scores.
Then they withstood the Heart, and created several more chances of their own, to ensure a deserved share of the points.
The Heart looked on track to add to their opening week win in the first half, taking a 20th minute lead through a superb Matt Thompson goal.
Fullback Aziz Behich won a ball deep in defence, ran 70m and crossed to midfielder Fred, who laid the ball back for Thompson to drive home.
But the Heart were made to pay for squandering several good chances when Colosimo illegally played goalkeeper to push Alex Smith's certain goal over the bar.
Colosimo's send-off altered the game markedly.
The Phoenix - with wingers Louis Fenton and Ifill prominent - then took command and stretched the Heart.
They came closest to a second when Ifill was put through on goal, but lofted a good chance over.
Then defender Michael Boxall turned Phoenix's hero, clearing a Dylan Macallister chance off the line with 13 minutes left - the Heart's best chance of a winner.
It was yet another addition to the perennial finalists' long history of confounding A-League expectations.
Both the Phoenix and Heart have a win and a draw from their opening two matches of the season.
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