David Ball’s late winner has netted Wellington all three points in a cracking A-League Men encounter against Newcastle on Wednesday night.
Having spent much of the second half on the back foot, Phoenix’s Sam Sutton picked out Ball with a lovely cross in the 88th minute that allowed the Englishman to smash a header home and seal his side a 3-2 win at Central Coast Stadium.
The victory means the Phoenix have gone seven games without defeat and left them inside the top six in the race for finals.
Goal-scoring hero Ball said he was delighted to win his side the game, particular after losing to the Jets 4-0 in December.
“I just play a game of high energy, I’ve got to set an example to everyone,” he said.
“That’s the minimum that you do when you walk on the pitch… I’m starting to get my goals and assists now I probably warrant and I’m just happy to chip in.
“We obviously owed them one from the 4-0 at the start of the season.”
After an impressive display where his side’s counter-attacking football proved pivotal having been monstered in terms of possession, Ball said it was a hallmark of the Phoenix to hit on the counter.
“We did a good job, the manager sets us up certain ways to play certain teams and I think we did a good job on them today,” he added.
“On the counter attack, I think we’re as good as anyone.
“We’ve got players that are coming into the side today… Waineo’s not played for a while and then come in and scored a goal.
“Everyone’s doing their part and that’s what’s so good about this team.”
Despite conceding twice, man-of-the-match honours could easily have gone to red-hot Wellington keeper Oli Sail, whose saves denied a rampant Jets’ line-up a number of goals.
Sail produced a brilliant double save on 20 minutes, parrying away a blazing effort from Olivier Boumal and then a driven effort from Daniel Penha in the same passage of play.
Jaushua Sotirio opened the scoring on 25 minutes with a delightful penalty, sliding it past debutant Newcastle keeper Michael Weier after he was hacked by Matt Jurman while through on goal.
Penha continued to work Sail who made another stop from distance on the half-hour, but they finally levelled matters on 42 minutes when Beka Mikeltadze found an acre of space and picked out Penha to turn one home from close range for a 1-all scoreline.
But, they were quickly behind again as Ben Waine broke away on the counterattack and backed himself, tucking the ball past Weier to make it 2-1.
Newcastle took control after the half and had several chances only to be denied until Boumal found plenty of room and blasted one past Sail to make it 2-all.
The Phoenix custodian’s brilliance paid dividends when Ball bobbed up to steal the points against the run of play and, as if he hadn’t done enough, he dived late to deny a Mikeltadze free kick in the game’s dying stages.
The result continued Newcastle’s struggles away from home, reaping just one win from seven games on the road this season.
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