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Wellington Phoenix see off 10-man Avondale to reach FFA Cup quarterfinals


Avondale’s Blake Carpenter was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Phoenix defender Louis Fenton.

Mike Owen/Getty Images

Avondale’s Blake Carpenter was shown a straight red card for a reckless challenge on Phoenix defender Louis Fenton.

Wellington Phoenix are through to the FFA Cup quarterfinals for the first time after beating 10-man NPL club Avondale 4-1 in a fiery encounter at ABD Stadium in Melbourne on Tuesday.

Most of the damage was done inside an eventful first half, which featured three goals and a red card.

Jaushua Sotirio stepped up in Gary Hooper’s absence to score a double inside the first 15 minutes before strike partner Ben Waine got the final touch on a goal-bound Alex Rufer header to make it 3-0 in the 24th.

Avondale played most of the game with just 10 men after Blake Carpenter was shown a straight red card for a studs up challenge on Louis Fenton in the 25th minute, effectively ending the game as a contest.

Phoenix coach Ufuk Talay said there were fears Fenton, who has a long history with injuries, had been seriously hurt. The game threatened to boil over after the incident, but the players cooled after halftime.

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“I thought it was a very bad challenge. We thought when Louis called for us to go over that it was pretty bad. He’s got some good scrapes down his whole shin,” Talay said.

“Hopefully he’ll pull through with a bit of ice on his leg and he’ll be available for the weekend.”

Led by their New Zealand captain Scott Hilliar, the Avondale underdogs made a promising start to the game with Carpenter forcing a good save out of Oli Sail after Stefan Valentini burst down the left wing.

Phoenix striker Jaushua Sotirio scored twice inside the opening 15 minutes.

Mike Owen/Getty Images

Phoenix striker Jaushua Sotirio scored twice inside the opening 15 minutes.

But the Phoenix, desperate to atone following their 4-0 defeat to Newcastle Jets in the A-League Men last Friday, flexed their muscles against their semi-professional opponents and hit the lead after four minutes.

Sotirio burst onto a perfectly weighted pass from David Ball, who celebrated his 32nd birthday with two assists during a man of the match performance, to open the scoring with an emphatic finish.

Sotirio had a second just nine minutes later, teed up again by Ball, and looping a powerful shot over the top of Avondale goalkeeper Rory Brian.

Rufer, who has never scored in the A-League Men, thought he had broken his goal drought when he rose high at the back post to meet a Reno Piscopo cross, but Waine was credited with the 24th minute goal.

The second half was a more even affair and Avondale almost caught Phoenix on the counter following a corner-kick at the other end, but Tim Payne sprinted back and made a vital block to deny Kristian Trajceski.

Avondale did manage to pull one goal back though when Jonatan Gremano headed the ball back across goal and Matthew Reid emerged from a crowd of bodies to score with a thumping header in the 74th.

But any hope of a comeback was dashed when Ball and Callan Elliot combined down the right and substitute Luka Prso finished off Elliot’s cross to score his first goal for the Phoenix and seal the win.

“For me the biggest thing was a reaction, and I think we got it tonight from the players. It was a good response,” Talay said.

“Our plan was to press them and to press them high, and I think it worked. We got the ball in good areas, and we capitalised.”

The Phoenix will meet reigning A-League Men champions Melbourne City in the FFA Cup quarterfinals next Wednesday. They are back in action against Sydney FC in the A-League Men this Sunday.

Wellington Phoenix 4 (Jaushua Sotirio 4’, 14’, Ben Waine 24’, Luka Prso 81’) Avondale 1 (Matthew Reid 74’)

HT: 3-0



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