After three straight losses where goalscoring felt like a distant memory, the response finally came from Melbourne Victory. And his name was Rudy Gestede.
Two identical goals from Jake Brimmer corners either side of half-time saw the Victory return to the winners list for just the second time this season – albeit at the cost of adding several names to a lengthy injury list.
It did not take long for the groans to reverberate around the stadium – with fans forgiven for googling local witch-doctors in the area to lift this curse – as the Victory were once again forced into several substitutions due to injuries.
Dylan Ryan lasted all of five minutes before he was taken off with a suspected ACL, while the much-anticipated ‘fab four’ was disassembled midway through the first half when an ankle injury saw Marco Rojas leave the field.
With Grant Brebner demanding more of his leaders during the week it was the senior players who stood up. Leigh Broxham threw his body in front of a Reno Piscopo attempt while Callum McManaman and Robbie Kruse provided plenty of creativity and class up front.
Wellington goalkeeper Oliver Sail showed why he had kept Stefan Marinovic out of the side with several pivotal saves. The 25-year-old saw off a barrage of early Victory attacks – including a bullet header from Gestede and two McManaman attempts from distance.
Albeit the Victory would be rewarded for its persistence.
A Gestede goal right on half-time gave the home side a much deserved lead – with the Frenchman and his teammates swarming under fire boss Grant Brebner in celebration; sending a strong message after a tumultuous week.
It only took the ex-Middlesbrough striker three minutes after the break to complete his brace, with Gestede making the most of Luke DeVere’s absence to head home his second.
Defender Ryan Shotton was another casualty on the night; he was replaced by academy product Zaydan Bello at half-time and saw the Victory finish the match without any of the back four who started last Sunday.
Debutant Dalibor Markovic put in a solid shift, while Aaron Anderson looked right at home in the heart of defence after replacing Ryan.
Wellington leaving AAMI Park injury free appeared to be one of only a few positives on the night for the Phoenix – the other perhaps being Sail’s performance – who failed to take advantage of Victory’s makeshift defence on the night.
MELBOURNE VICTORY 2 (Gestede 45+3, 49′)
WELLINGTON PHOENIX 0
Max Crocombe, Ryan Shotton (Zaydan Bello 45’), Leigh Broxham, Callum McManaman(Jay Barnett 70’),, Rudy Gestede (Luis Lawrie-Lattanzio 70’), Robbie Kruse, Birkan Kirdar, Dylan Ryan(Aaron Anderson 5’), Jake Brimmer, Marco Rojas (Jacob Butterfield 24’), Dalibor Markovic
Matt Acton, Elvis Kamsoba,
Oliver Sail, Liam McGing, James McGarry, Tim Payne, Reno Piscopo (Charles Lokoli Ngoy 75’), Cameron Devlin, Ulises Davila, Alex Rufer, Mirza Muratovic (Clayton Lewis 50’), Louis Fenton, Ben Waine
Stefan Marinovic, Te Atawhai Hudson Wihongi, Matt Ridenton, Sam Sutton, Joshua Laws,