19/05/2024

Wellington Phoenix took a point in a tough road trip over the Glory. (Image: Perth Glory FC - Twitter)

Wellington Phoenix boss Ufuk Talay praises his squad's resiliency following a tough scorching road trip in Perth

Wellington Phoenix has come away with a 1-1 draw over rivals Perth Glory, with neither side taking the chocolates in the first Distance Derby of the season.

In unfamiliar territory, playing on the road at Macedonia Park, and with key players missing due to injury and illness, it was a brave showing from the Nix who came back from behind to hold on to a 1-1 draw to ensure, their unbeaten run since the league’s resumption following the World Cup break.

David Williams opened proceeding for the Glory just after the 20-minute mark, though they were unable to hold onto their lead for long with the Phoenix equalising nine minutes later through their Polish centre-forward Oskar Zawada, with the 26-year-old scoring his third goal of the campaign.

Both sides would have their chances to go ahead thereafter, but with both sides heading into halftime level, neither side would be able to find the net in the second half.

Speaking post-game, Wellington coach Ufuk Talay was pleased with how his side responded having gone a goal down early, crediting the mentality of the squad.

“It’s great that they responded very quickly, this group is quite resilient, the core group has been away the last two seasons based in Australia, so we do have a resilient group,” Talay said post-match.

“Things don’t change for us whether we’re winning five nil or we are losing five nil, we’ll still try to play a certain way and get the outcome that we want in the brand that we play.

“So if there’s going to be a change in the style, it generally comes from me, but the players know to go out there and execute the game plan.”

Having played in tough conditions and coming off a long journey to Perth, Talay was happy that his side took a point from the game though admitted it wasn’t a perfect performance.

“I don’t think it was our best performance but overall I think the boys worked hard, we went down a goal, and I think the first time we actually put the ball down and played we scored from it,” he said.

“I think we could have been a lot better with the ball at times and even in the second half, I think there were some good counter moments that we had.

“But we made some poor decisions on the pass or the execution wasn’t good, but overall it’s not easy coming to Perth. The kick-off time was 12:30 am New Zealand time, so a little bit difficult for the boys, when the game finished it was close to 3:00 am in New Zealand.

“It’s a lot warmer than what we expected, Perth’s always warm anyway, but we don’t get this heat back in Wellington, but overall [I’m] happy we walk away with a point and we continue the momentum of being unbeaten since we’ve come back from the World Cup break.”

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Since returning from the World Cup break, the Phoenix has looked like an improved outfit, with foreigners such as the aforementioned Zawada, Bozhidar Kraev, and Yan Sasse coming into their own and stringing some good performances together.

Speaking on the improvement of the side, Talay said the consistency of the squad has been key to their recent successes.

“The good thing we’ve had [the] last three weeks [is] we’ve kept the same team, we’ve had some consistency, I think that’s very important,” he said.

“Players building partnerships alongside each other I think that’s very important as well. They’re slowly getting there and this is probably the first time that they’ve [foreign players] played in this heat.

“Back in Europe you don’t get this heat in the season so this would have been a different challenge for those boys tonight.”

Several key players such as Ben Waine and Tim Payne missed the game due to non-COVID-related illnesses while Ben Old missed after having surgery to a hernia removed earlier in the week.

Talay gave a status update on the trio. He said neither will miss too much time.

“Not Covid, but ‘Wayno’ [Waine] was just sick, Tim Payne woke up and was feeling a little bit sick, he was throwing up his guts early in the morning, he felt a little bit better but then it started again so we just left him back at the hotel,” he said.

“’Wayno’ should be okay, ‘Panyey’ is okay and ‘Oldy’ [Ben Old] had a hernia operation yesterday so hopefully he’s back on the field running on the 27th, so we get some numbers back.”

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