Louis Fenton was as confident as anyone the penalty awarded to Melbourne City in the 61st minute would be overturned.
The Denis Genreau cross deflected off Fenton’s chest onto his outstretched arm, which prompted the referee to point to the spot.
Fenton’s calmness turned into disbelief and then into anger once it was clear the VAR would not overturn the decision.
The penalty was converted by Craig Noone and sealed the win for Melbourne City, though there is confusion as to whether the penalty should have stood under the new International Football Association Board’s rules.
According to IFAB: ‘If the ball comes off the player’s body, or off another player (of either team) who is close by onto the hands/arms it is often impossible to avoid contact with the ball.’
It is perhaps not surprising Fenton and the Phoenix bench reacted the way they did when the decision was upheld.
Wellington coach Ufuk Talay says the decision changed the game, with it ultimately putting the result out of reach.
“In my opinion, it came off [Fenton’s] body and then hit his arm after that,” he said.
“The rule new states that if it hits your body, then hits your arm it’s accidental, but the decision was made and that changed the game.”
The Phoenix opened the scoring through Gary Hooper, but their lead was short-lived as City hit the front just 11 minutes later with Conor Metcalfe and Scott Galloway getting on the scoresheet for the first time in Melbourne City colours.
It had been the first time the Phoenix had been in front all season and had chances to build on their positive start with Ulises Davila and David Ball causing problems for the makeshift City back four.
“We started off well scored from a set piece went up one-nil quite early and we allowed them to come back into the game,” Talay said.
“I don’t think it was our best performance to be honest today against City, but I thought we were still in for a fighting chance at two-one and then the decision made the game difficult for us.
“[The first] one was we didn’t deal from a cross and they scored with a header at the back post and [the second] one was a shot from distance, so we needed to put more pressure on the ball carrier.
“They had a lot of back possession, but I thought we were compact and good with our two nines as well.”
Wellington remain without a win in season 2019/20 and return to AAMI Park next Friday to face the Melbourne Victory.