Forget the Sydney Derby. Forget the Melbourne Derby. Forget the F3 Derby. The biggest derby of them all was played in Wellington this weekend – The Distance Derby. Who doesn’t love a manufactured rivalry?!
I went in to the stadium full of hope. Tonight is the night we finally get some points on the board. Heck, I’ll take one point at this stage. We just need to finish in the final third of the park, it can’t be that hard!
After 11 minutes of football, my hope significantly diminished. Fornaroli gave the visitors the lead from close range, a little dink off the outside of the foot sending the ball to the top of the net. He looked pretty happy to have opened his account with his new team, cuddles all round. Perth lead by 1.
The crowd got a lot more vocal around the 23 minute mark when Glory’s Wuthrich put in a dangerous looking tackle on David Ball – he’d probably seen Archie two-foot a kid earlier and wanted to give it a crack. It’s not often we WANT the VAR to get involved, but this was one of those times. The home fans were not happy with the yellow card and firmly believed that we should have been playing against 10 men for the remainder of the game. The fans certainly let the referee know their thoughts.
Not too much longer after that incident, Perth doubled their lead through Ikonomidis. Fornaroli once again in the action, flicking the ball over Walter Scott’s head to Ikonomidis who fired it past Marinovic. The mood in the stadium got about as gloomy as the damn weather (summer football eh?).
Down by two at the half, Ufuk Talay would have gone in to the sheds and lit a fire under the boys – I’m sure they were grateful for the warmth.
The moment everyone was waiting for came with 15 minutes left in the match. Talay substituted Callum McCowatt for Super Gary Hooper. Turns out the Oompa Loompa song from Willy Wonka makes an excellent Gary Hooper chant – though my judgement might be skewed by the beverages I had consumed.
It felt like we got a push of energy, though I guess bringing on two attacking players in Hooper and Waine probably helped that. Making more frequent runs into the box. But we were still struggling to convert anything. My frustration was not helped by the group of 10 year-olds in front of me who began to yell “Put it in the mixer” on repeat for ten minutes. If I never hear that phrase again, it’ll be too soon.
90+ minutes and a glimmer of hope – we weren’t gonna get any points from the match but it’s always nice to get goals. Hooper gets fouled in the box by Djulbic. Given our awful record, I try to make it a thing not to celebrate the awarding of a penalty but when referee King pointed to the spot, cries of “LAST GOAL WINS” went up in the Yellow Fever, and I have to admit that I joined in – for the lols. I also don’t actually watch pens so I can’t provide comment on what happened there either. Part of me didn’t believe the crowd I was facing when they all celebrated that it had gone in, but when I turned back and saw the scoreline I felt a bit better.
Three straight losses for the Phoenix to start the season and I’m not sure things are looking any brighter in the coming weeks with both City and Victory away. There’s so much potential in this Phoenix side and once they settle in to that then great things could happen. We just can’t wait too much longer for that to click or we’ll be too far gone.
If the table’s upside down we’re on top.
By Tracey Hodge