Melbourne Victory’s nine-game unbeaten run was ended with a 1-0 loss to the Wellington Phoenix in the Isuzu UTE A-League on Wednesday.
Victory had chances at WIN Stadium in Wollongong, where Reno Piscopo’s second-half goal proved to be the difference.
It came four days after Victory’s FFA Cup success and ended the Club’s nine-match unbeaten run.
The early efforts came from distance for both sides as Piscopo and Chris Ikonomidis put strikes off target from range in what would prove to be the theme of the first half.
Victory’s next opportunity came via a free-kick in the 16th minute, Francesco Margiotta curling a 25-yard effort narrowly over the crossbar.
Only a last-ditch clearance denied Victory an opener in the 25th minute.
Ikonomidis’ cross from the left was aimed at Margiotta and after a scramble in the area, Phoenix goalkeeper Oli Sail managed to clear off the line.
Wellington was also beginning to look threatening and David Ball headed a corner to the near post over the bar shortly after the half-hour mark.
Victory goalkeeper Ivan Kelava was forced into a straightforward save to begin the second half, keeping out a Tim Payne strike.
Ben Folami almost opened the scoring for Victory in the 52nd minute, tricking his way into the area before shooting off target.
The attacker went even closer just 10 minutes later, forcing Sail to tip a shot around his post after receiving a pass from Ikonomidis.
The chances continued to come for Victory and Josh Brillante’s powerful shot went straight at Sail in the 65th minute.
Just three minutes later and Sail was forced into another excellent save.
A fine team move ended with Jason Davidson picking out Marco Rojas – playing his 100th Isuzu UTE A-League game for the Club – with a cross, but Sail denied the Victory star.
The encounter had started to open up and Kelava made a fine low save from Jaushua Sotirio with less than 20 minutes remaining.
But Wellington opened the scoring through Piscopo, who tucked away from inside the area after a pass from Ball.
Nick D’Agostino fired wide from inside the area in additional time as Victory was unable to find an equaliser.
What they said – Brendan Hamill
on the result…
“Disappointing obviously, it’s a tough team to come and play in Wollongong. We had chances, they had a few chances, it just didn’t go our way tonight. We’ve just got to pick ourselves, we’ve got a game in three days.”
on whether there’s a cup hangover…
“Not at all. We want more. We expect more of ourselves as a group and as a Club so as I said we’ve got a game in three days and you don’t play every couple of days if you’re not winning things so we’ve got to pick ourselves up and go again.”
Player in focus
Folami again looked dangerous for Victory. The attacker went closest to opening the scoring before Victory fell behind.
Victory’s nine-game unbeaten run was ended and the result left it in fourth on the table.
Isuzu UTE A-League 2021/22 Round 12
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Reno Piscopo 74′)
Melbourne Victory 0
Wellington Phoenix: Sail (gk); Payne (Fenton 71′), Wootton, Laws, Sutton; Sandoval (Old 82′), Rufer (c) (Pennington 90′), Lewis, Piscopo (Waine 90′); Sotirio (Van Hattum 90′), Ball.
Melbourne Victory: Kelava (gk); Geria, Hamill, Broxham, Davidson; Brillante (c), Kirdar; Velupillay (Rojas 62′), Ikonomidis (Brooks 78′), Folami (Brimmer 73′); Margiotta (D’Agostino 73′).
Yellow cards: Ball 57′, Fenton 76′, Piscopo 90′
Red cards: Nil
Venue: WIN Stadium
Victory’s busy run of fixtures continued against the Newcastle Jets at AAMI Park on Saturday.