The Wellington Phoenix renaissance continued as they held the Melbourne Victory to a 1-1 draw at AAMI Park on Friday night.

It could have been a much different story when David Williams’ fantastic right-footed effort from outside the box gave Mark Rudan’s men the lead just after half-time. However, Ola Toivonen’s predatory instincts inside the area was enough to salvage a point for the Victory on a sweltering Melbourne night.

The Victory came into the game fresh off a draw in the Melbourne Derby and were looking to bounce back with a win against the in-form ‘Nix. Kevin Muscat’s men went into this game unchanged as they were still without Japanese superstar, Keisuke Honda who missed another game through soreness.

While Wellington who were coming off a third consecutive victory in the league against the Brisbane Roar made one change with Williams coming in for Nathan Burns.

The ‘Nix started strong out of the blocks putting pressure in the Victory defence with their swift ball movement led in particular by Sarpreet Singh who continues his fantastic rise to prominence.

However, the Victory’s injury woes would continue when Nick Ansell was forced off the ground early and was replaced by Josh Hope which saw Leigh Broxham having to slot in the back four once again as a make-shift centre-half.

The Phoenix almost took the lead when Mandi’s free-kick just fizzled past the post and Singh forced a fantastic save out of Lawrence Thomas leading to a stalemate at half-time.

Once again, Wellington were causing problems for the Melbourne defence as Roy Krishna got in behind and almost directed his shot into the bottom corner just after the break.

However, their luck would slowly turn around as Williams picked the ball up on the edge of the area and slammed home a wonderful curled effort which displaced Thomas between the sticks and gave Mark Rudan’s men a deserved lead to the stunned silence at AAMI Park.

The Victory pressed in search of an equaliser as Terry Antonis continued to marvel with his fantastic build-up play which lead to one of his efforts being turned home by Toivonen who now made it five goals in seven to open his Victory career.

The game ended as a draw and the Victory momentarily leapfrog the Perth Glory on top of the table on goal difference while Wellington sit fourth as they jumped Melbourne City.

The Victory will next travel to Sydney to take on the Wanderers at ANZ Stadium next Saturday night while the Phoenix will travel to Adelaide to take on the Reds next Saturday evening.

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Nick D’Urbano
nicholas.durbano9@gmail.com