ALM R22 Match Wrap: Wellington Phoenix 1-0 Brisbane Roar

Brisbane Roar were edged out 1-0 by Isuzu UTE A-League league leaders, Wellington Phoenix in Round 22 action at Sky Stadium on Sunday morning.

In a match that produced a plethora of chances it was Bozhidar Kraev’s 2nd minute strike that proved to be decisive for a Phoenix side who finished with ten men after Alex Rufer’s second half red card.

The home side opened the scoring inside two minutes when Sam Sutton found Kraev inside the penalty area allowing the Bulgarian to slide home a composed finish to put Phoenix in front.

Moments later Nikola Mileusnic came close for the Roar, flashing a strike wide of the far post after being played in by Jay O’Shea.

Roar’s best chance of the opening half fell to Keegan Jelacic in the 20th minute when the midfielder won possession on the top of the box before beating his marker and forcing Alex Paulsen into a strong save with a powerful effort on goal.

Phoenix came out of the blocks fast again in the second half with Kraev heading a Salas cross wide of far post in the 48th minute before Mohamad Al-Taay got in behind the Roar defence but couldn’t beat Macklin Freke from a tight angle two minutes later.

Roar responded quickly with two chances of their own through Floring Berenguer, who had an effort from close range deflected over the bar before Tom Aldred came within inches of an equaliser with a header from the resulting corner.

Aldred, who has playing his 100th A-League match for the club again came close in the 64th minute with a strike at the near post after being picked out on the end of a driving run into the area by Jelacic.

Phoenix were reduced to ten men in the 81st minute when Captain, Alex Rufer had his yellow card upgraded to red by VAR for a stomp on Henry Hore.

Jay O’Shea forced Paulsen into another strong save with a powerful effort from the resulting free-kick.

Despite their 19 efforts on goal Roar were unable to find a breakthrough as the home side held on for a crucial three points in the title race.

Roar remain eighth on the A-League ladder following Saturdays 1-0 defeat, five points adrift of the competition’s top six with four rounds remaining of the regular season.

Next up for Roar is a crucial clash on the road against sixth placed, Western Sydney Wanderers at CommBank Stadium next Friday night.

Isuzu UTE A-League Men 2023/24 – Round 22: Wellington Phoenix v Brisbane Roar
Sky Stadium, Wellington
Sunday, 31 March

Wellington Phoenix – 1 (Bozhidar KRAEV 2’)
Brisbane Roar – 0