Wellington Phoenix – Match Report Vs. Perth Glory (26/03/2022)

Wellington Phoenix snatched a 2-1 Victory over Perth Glory thanks to a 97th-minute winner. Perth sat very deep and narrow which naturally affected how the Wellington players played. The defenders were able to play out of the back with relatively little pressure while the attacking players rarely had space and time around the opposition penalty area. Wellington’s 4-2-2-2 formation meant that a lot of their attacking moves utilized the wide areas that were made available by Perth’s block. 

Ratings:

  • A1 – Very good, could play higher
  • A2 – Strong potential to play higher
  • B1 – Good, strong player at level
  • B2 – Potential to be a strong player at level
  • C – Average for the level, re-watch
  • D – Below average in this match

Sam Sutton

  • Nationality: New Zealand
  • Age: 20
  • Date of Birth: 10/12/2001
  • Club: Wellington Phoenix 
  • Career: East Coast Bays, Wellington Phoenix (Y). 
  • Position: Left Back
  • Secondary Position: Centre Midfield 
  • Preferred Foot: Left

Sutton started the game at left-back and, as a result, saw a fair amount of the ball. He did a good job of stretching the opposition defence with his positioning. He received a lot of diagonal outlet passes, as he was occupying the more open wide areas, and he did a good job of controlling the ball when he did. Sutton showed a good ability to retain the ball under pressure, able to turn in tight spaces, and maintain close control of the ball. However, in the final 3rd, he had a bit of a tough time breaking down the Perth block. This was the problem for the whole Wellington Phoenix team but he was a bit lacking in ideas other than putting in fairly aimless crosses. Ironically when he switched to a central midfield role he had more of an offensive impact, in part because he was getting the ball in positions that allowed him to put in crosses from different angles that were harder for Perth to deal with.

He also had a quite exciting long-range shot, demonstrating his ability to strike the ball strongly with his left foot. Defensively he was usually positioned well to deal with the few Perth attacks that came his way. Sutton is quite small, standing 5’7, but that did not seem to hinder his ability to win the ball from his opposition. He is a very strong 1v1 defender, with nobody able to get the better of him during the part of the game where he played left-back. When he switched to a centre midfield position he was dribbled past a couple of times but as he acclimated to the position he was able to make some more good defensive plays.

Rating: A2

Sutton is young and very defensively solid. He is not the most dynamic attacking force of all time but he has some skills that suggest that aspect of his game could develop further. This leads me to believe that a move to a higher level is possible a couple of years down the line. He probably won’t ever play for Bayern Munich but recent ‘Nix alumni have done well in the Scottish Premier League, 2. Bundesliga, and even the lower end of Serie A. I think leagues of that sort of level are a definite possibility for Sutton. According to Transfermarkt, he has UK citizenship which would help him obtain a work permit in England or Scotland. 

Ben Waine

  • Nationality: New Zealand
  • Age: 20
  • Date of Birth: 11/06/2001
  • Club: Wellington Phoenix 
  • Career: Wellington Phoenix (Y)
  • Position: Striker
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Like Old, Waine did not see a lot of the ball in this game. But he did score a very well taken goal. Based on Wyscout, this seems to be the quintessential Ben Waine experience. Throughout his career, Waine has received an average of 7.87 passes per game in A-League action. But despite getting the ball so rarely, he’s averaging a very respectful 0.46 xG+xA per 90 minutes. If we normalize this by per 100 passes received, we find that Waine is averaging 5.8 expected goal contributions for every 100 passes he receives. The top 5 scoring centre-forwards in the premier league this season are averaging 3.85. Now per 100 passes is not the perfect metric but the point I am trying to make in a long-winded fashion is that Waine is a striker who does a lot with a little. He can do this through a combination of good off-the-ball movement and a strong physical profile. Waine is fast and strong. This allows him to get behind defences and win physical battles in the box. Both of his two chances in this game were a result of doing just that.

He scored a goal by getting behind the defence with his speed and had a headed chance by winning a physical battle in front of the goal. He did a good job of stretching the opposition defence with his speed and movement, most notably when he was fouled by Osama Malik during a footrace, leading to a red card for the Perth player. He did a lot of running off the ball and tracked back well, though his pressing didn’t lead to Wellington winning the ball back very consistently. When he actually had the ball at his feet (which, as outlined above, was not very often) he didn’t always look the most comfortable. He was usually ending up in wide areas where he would either put in a not particularly effective cross or just pass the ball backwards. 

Rating: A2

Waine is a young and productive striker who holds a UK passport. This is naturally going to make him attractive to teams in England and he has already reportedly turned down a move to Coventry City in the English Championship, citing the need to have regular playing time. That has not fully worked out for him this season but the departure of Gary Hooper due to a combination of injuries and personal reasons should give Waine a clear runway for the rest of the season. He’s already quite effective but if he can get a little bit better with the ball at his feet then he could really hit another level. 

Finn Surman

  • Nationality: New Zealand
  • Age: 18
  • Date of Birth: 23/09/2003
  • Club: Wellington Phoenix
  • Career: Selwyn United, Wellington Phoenix (Y)
  • Position: Centre Back
  • Preferred Foot: Right

Surman started the game looking a bit anxious and unsure of himself. Early in the game he had a misplaced pass, was outwitted by an opposing player’s quick change of direction, and misjudged a high ball leading to a very awkward headed clearance. Perhaps this was to be expected since this was only Surman’s second-ever A-League start. But he came on strong after that slow start and ended up having a very solid game. He did well to mop up loose balls and interrupt attacking moves that came his way. He mostly kept things safe with his passing but it was his long-range pass to Ben Waine which led to the Perth red card. Though he started out looking a little unsure about when to step up and when to stay in his position, as he got more comfortable he showed good awareness of when to make more aggressive defensive plays. His clearances were very authoritative.

He was able to get good distance on headed clearances and would consistently put the ball into less dangerous areas while clearing. But one area where he consistently left a little bit to be desired was his aerial ability in situations where he was challenging another player for the ball directly. Surman is big (his height is not listed on Wellington Phoenix’s website, Transfermarkt or Wikipedia so I can’t get any more specific than that) but he had some trouble imposing himself on opposing players in physical battles. This might partly be a matter of him still growing into his frame, he is only 18. This will certainly be something to look out for in future viewings. 

Rating: A2

Surman will need to become more consistent and improve his aerial ability if he is to make the jump to a higher level. But his skill level relative to his age and his physical profile make him a promising prospect. It will probably be at least a couple of years before we see him ready to step up to another level but I could definitely see it happening. He also has UK citizenship, via Welsh heritage, according to Transfermarkt. 

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