Ernie Merrick and the Jets returned to New Zealand and avenged their loss earlier in the season.
Hoffman hit a half-volley into the net on his third attempt inside the box and his goal was an illustration of the overall game – lots of endeavour, very open and with lots of chances for both sides. Newcastle had that little bit of luck, confidence and class on their side to take the opportunity that they created. The Phoenix, on the other hand, could not.
Burns and Krishna pace plan
Chris Greenacre set Wellington up with the idea to get the ball in behind for their strikers to chase and finish. With Sarpreet Singh, Nathan Burns and Roy Krishna all deployed up front, the Nix were aiming to give their pacy frontmen through balls and crosses to turn home. They had their chances, but could not quite find a finish. All missed clear-cut chances and rained shots down on the Newcastle Jets – with the majority going agonisingly wide. The offsides also stacked up against them as the chances continued to be squandered.
Ernie Merrick’s men urged to attack
Whenever Newcastle came forward they looked dangerous and the Scotsman could be heard throughout the contest urging his players higher up the pitch. His willingness to attack, coupled with his side’s desire to play to the system and his defenders holding high line, all contributed to an entertaining and open contest. The Jets’ backline was opened up on multiple occasions, but through a combination of work and luck, the visitors managed to survive with their goal unbreached.
Rotated lineups on display
Greenacre picked a youthful Phoenix side with Dylan Fox, Tom Doyle and Liberato Cacace in for the injured Andrew Durante and Marco Rossi. Krishna took the captains armband. For Newcastle, Andrew Nabbout had departed to Japan and Roy O Donovan was still injured, but Ronny Vargas made a long-awaited return. It was good to see him back from his early season injury and raring to go for the run into the finals.