The first A-League game of the new year produced a surprise result as Wellington Phoenix came from behind to take all three points from Western Sydney Wanderers at Pirtek Stadium. The New Years Day game featured another top performance from Wellington striker Stein Huysegems, who scored twice more and added an assist to propel the Phoenix to its third consecutive victory. Having opened the season on ten-game winless streak, Wellington are now level on points with Adelaide United and Perth Glory.
With Paul Ifill out for the rest of the season and Carlos Hernandez missing up to six weeks with a wrist injury, the attacking onus for Wellington fell to Huysegems and Jeremy Brockie. The latter has struggled to find his finishing all season but luckily for the Phoenix, the Belgian has been on a tear of late. He scored winners in each of Wellington's two previous victories and on the first day of the new year, picked up where he left off in late December.
After Mark Bridge scored a well-worked opener for the home side in the 62nd minute, setting in motion what looked like the usual way the Wanderers earn a home victory, Huysegems set up Tyler Boyd for Wellington's equalizer just six minutes later. Ten minutes after that, Huysegems scored his first, giving the visitors an unexpected lead heading into the final ten minutes. Rather than folding and giving up a late equalizer themselves, the Phoenix showed resilience and when Boyd returned the favor, setting up Huysegems in the 84th minute, the game was won.
Missing out on points from a home game against Wellington will surely come back to haunt Western Sydney in their title chase. Sitting four points behind Brisbane Roar, the Wanderers have now given the ladder toppers a game in hand without moving any closer. Still, Western Sydney are themselves four points clear of Melbourne Victory so will stay in second place for at least another week. The Wanderers do not play again until their January 11 Sydney Derby at Pirtek Stadium. Wellington aren't on the pitch again until Sunday January 12 when they host Central Coast Mariners.
WSW Bridge (Ono) 62'
WEL Boyd (Huysegems) 68'
WEL Huysegems 78'
WEL Huysegems (Boyd) 84'
Western Sydney Wanderers: Covic; D'Apuzzo, Topor-Stanley, Beauchamp, Polenz; Mooy (Trifiro 86'), La Rocca; Bridge (Santalab 71'), Ono (Haliti 80'), Hersi; Juric
Unused substitutes: Tyson, Heffernan
Wellington Phoenix: Moss; Muscat, Durante, Sigmund, Fenton (Boxall 41'); Cunningham (Boyd 64'), Riera, Lia; Hicks (Ridenton 46'); Huysegems, Brockie
Unused substitutes: Italiano, Bertos