Melbourne Victory’s disastrous season has continued with yet another heavy defeat – this time at the hands of the Wellington Phoenix — to mount even more pressure on coach Grant Brebner.
Tomar Hemed and David Ball had the ‘Nix two up at the break before Ulises Davila and Clayton Lewis’ second-half strikes condemned Victory to a 4-1 defeat, their fourth-straight loss and their ninth in 12 games.
Brebner told Fox Sports’ Mark Bosnich after the defeat he would not consider quitting despite the club’s dismal position.
“It’s not the type of person I am, I totally understand the position we’re in and I understand the expectation of this football club to win games and trophies,” Brebner said.
“… But I do believe we can get ourselves out of this. I do believe the players that will come back into this team will make us better. The here and now is tough, but if you’re asking me that direct question (will I resign), the answer is no.”
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There are suggestions, however, the Victory could be already seeking a replacement for Brebner, with Fox Sports’ Robbie Slater reporting they had made contact with former Western Sydney Wanderers and Perth Glory coach Tony Popovic.
Victory’s leaky defence was cut open by a blistering Phoenix counter-attack to open the scoring despite showing some good early signs in attack.
Reno Piscopo’s fantastic touch and cross-field ball to Ball set-up the counter before the striker cut the ball back to Davila on the edge of the box who found Hemed in space to fire home the opener.
Wellington yet again punished the Victory defence following a scramble in the box, Ball fired home from close-range and despite the ball seemingly striking Alex Rufer’s arm in the build-up – VAR ruled it as a goal.
The Phoenix should’ve made it three moments later when Lewis fired against the woodwork and Hemed somehow missed from point-blank range in the follow-up.
Oliver Sail’s tremendous form between the sticks continued denying two fantastic chances either side of Ball’s goal from Elvis Kamsoba and Ben Folami.
The Nix’s blistering attack didn’t let-off after half-time as Davila curled home their third and Lewis put the nail into the coffin moments later scoring their fourth.
Victory pulled back a mere consolation from Kamsoba who cleverly flicked the ball over Sail but in the act of scoring pulled up lame and was forced-off with an injury.
Despite yet another defeat, Brebner believes his side played with confidence and showed signs of effort throughout the 90 against a ruthless Wellington outfit.
However, he bemoaned individual mistakes from key players which cost them on the scoreboard – something which he believes has played a major part in their fall down the table.
“We played well,” Brebner told the media post-game.
“We didn’t play like a team that was devoid of confidence… we just made some terrible decisions in the penalty box which cost us dearly.”
Brebner, who is facing a mountain of pressure after the worst start in the club’s history is adamant, he will do all he can to turn Victory’s fortunes around.
“I do not shy away from the fact that I see them as the biggest football club in Australia. The expectation of this football club is to win football games and to win trophies” Brebner said.
“We’re not in that situation at the moment, we’re in the situation we’re in but I’ve been in it as a player in a difficult situation and now as the head coach and one thing I’m committed to doing is making sure that I work 100% along with my staff to get us out of it.”
On the opposite bench, Wellington Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay was pleased with how his side were able to get back on the winners list after a couple solid performances without “being rewarded”.
“I think we played some really good football today,” Talay told the media post-game.
“We exposed them in some very good areas and I think the most important thing for us was scoring four goals and I think that boosts the confidence.”
After two consecutive games where VAR had cost Wellington points, the Phoenix’s were finally on the right-end of some luck following an apparent Alex Rufer handball in the lead-up to David Ball’s finish.
“It’s part of the game,” Talay said.
“It is nice that Bally (Ball) was rewarded with a goal in that sequence.”
VICTORY DRIVEN FURTHER INTO ABYSS
Different game, same story – the Victory are at the bottom of the Mariana Trench.
Despite some promising signs early, Melbourne was punished by a ruthless Wellington attack taking full-advantage of a Victory defence who have now conceded 30 goals in 12 games and 17 of them throughout this four-game skid.
Melbourne now sits four points off second-last and despite not being all to blame for their poor form – the pressure continues to rise on Grant Brebner.
FINALLY, LUCK FOR THE ‘NIX
You could make a case that heading into tonight’s game that Wellington are the A-League’s most unlucky side.
Following a late equaliser rubbed out against the Wanderers and penalty denied in the final-moments of their draw with Brisbane on Sunday, their luck with VAR finally turned when David Ball’s strike wasn’t ruled off due to a technicality in the rule-book.
It seemed as if the ball struck Alex Rufer’s arm in the build-up, however due to the ball being played by Ben Folami following the ricochet off Rufer’s arm – the play reset deeming it not to be a handball.
Backup goalkeepers don’t usually get their opportunity, but Oliver Sail upon getting his has never looked back.
Sail, who replaced mainstay Stefan Marinovic between the sticks has been in tremendous form despite the ‘Nix defence being ravaged by injuries.
Despite conceding a late consolation, the 25-year-old was impenetrable in the opening-half making a series of important saves when the game was on the line.