The first Saturday of the new year saw two games go right to the death.

Both games featured excitement and hints of controversy, setting the scene for a captivating second half of the season.

Adelaide United 0-0 Wellington Phoenix.

Who said goalless games are boring?

This one had everything but the goals – red cards, desperate defending and golden chances as Wellington Phoenix looked to extend their impressive run away to Adelaide United.

Despite travelling for the second consecutive week the Phoenix did not look fazed as they withstood Adelaide’s attack and even had chances of their own to win the game.

The home side had the better of the chances and thought they had scored when Jordan Elsey’s header bounced off Phoenix goalkeeper Fillip Kurto and looked as though it had crept over the line for a goal.

The tempo kicked in to overdrive soon after as Wellington’s Mandi was given a red card for kicking Vince Lia while he was lying over the ball, resulting in some push and shove between all players.

Losing Mandi created some tense moments for the Phoenix, the ball constantly in Wellington’s penalty area for the last few minutes as Adelaide looked to find a winner.

Though Adelaide were unable to break through and were forced to share the points.

Western Sydney Wanderers 1 – 2 Melbourne Victory.

The Western Sydney Wanderers needed a response and despite not acquiring the three points they proved they should not be ruled out just yet.

It was an embarrassing affair for the Wanderers the last time they met Melbourne Victory and they sought to rectify this as Lawrence Thomas was called in to action far too many times for his liking in the opening few minutes.

Though the Wanderers were not rewarded for the persistence as it was the visitors who opened the scoring through Ola Toivonen, who becomes the first Victory player to score in five consecutive matches.

But the Wanderers refused to lie down and were eventually found themselves level as Alexander Baumjohann made no mistake from the penalty spot.

The home side then came inches away from hitting the lead as Nick Fitzgerald dribbled past an adventurous Lawrence Thomas and would have scored had it not been for a goal line clearance by, you guessed it, Leigh Broxham.

In a tense final ten minutes Victory’s stars stood up and delivered.

James Troisi combined with Ola Toivonen for the second time to give Victory the lead with the ball bouncing off the chest of the Swedish International which proved to be the match winner.

Athos Sirianos