• Christian Marchetti

Three conclusions as Wellington beat Mariners to get off the mark in 2021

The Wellington Phoenix have snatched their first win of 2021 after a late goal from substitute Jaushua Sotirio helped them beat Central Coast.


Below are our three key conclusions from the 2-1 win.


Should Matt Simon be dropped?


Matt Simon has always been a player that has divided opinion amongst A-League fans.


If you're a Mariners fan, you love him for never backing out of a challenge and giving one hundred per cent every game.


However, rival fans are often annoyed by his antics.


But five games into the new season, Alen Stajcic might have to start considering what his veteran forward is contributing to his side.


Simon's hold-up play and workload off the ball cannot be overlooked, but sooner or later a striker will be judged on his direct involvement in the team's goals.


Right now, young Alou Kuol is outshining him in that area, after he headed in his third of the campaign to equalise before halftime.


Simon is still without a goal this season, and to be honest; he doesn't look like scoring either.


The 35-year-old had a 40% shot accuracy going into the match tonight.


It might be time for Costa Rican Marcos Ureña to get a go from the start.


A classic smash and grab


Wellington has struggled at times so far this season to find a way to break down stubborn opposition.


They dominated much of the 2-1 losses to Sydney and Newcastle, with only a controversial red card to Alex Rufer denying them the points against Macarthur.


After ten minutes, you already got the feeling it could be another frustrating day until two big-name imports combined brilliantly in the fifteenth minute.


Captain Ulises Davila pinged the ball into Israeli striker Tomer Hemed, who laid it back into Davila's path with a sensational back heel.


The Mexican then drove a fizzing low strike past Mark Birighitti and into the bottom corner.


This moment illustrated not only how you need some individual brilliance sometimes to penetrate low blocks, but the attacking threat the Nix have at their disposal.


Davila established himself last campaign as one of the most exciting creative players in the league, whilst Hemed provides a different dynamic up top with his physicality.


Ufuk Talay's disappointment will be the inability to kill teams off, as Wellington seemed to struggle to regain their mojo after conceding the equaliser.


Despite fading away in the second half, they got that bit of luck they have been starved of so far this season with an undeserving late winner.

At their best, they play some of the best attacking football in the league, but right now they can't seem to find the consistency that led to a third-placed finish last season.


But in the end, tonight was all about the result.


No need to panic


This performance from Stajcic's side was quite similar to their other defeat this season at home to the Wanderers.


They were arguably the better team, but an unfortunate late goal against the run of play leaves them going home without anything to show for it.


Davila's strike was just the second they have conceded all season, whilst the way they bounced back would have been unheard of in previous years.


The Mariners were the better side after halftime and will be annoyed that they didn't snatch all three points themselves.

But I guess that speaks volumes of the change in mentality at the club now.


In recent years, they would have looked at a night like tonight as a marker of improvement, pushing a strong Wellington side to the end.


But in that dressing room right now they will be scratching their heads wondering how they lost.


Stajcic has emphasised results over development this season, and it will only serve them good in the long-term.