The substitute had only been on the pitch a matter of moments when, in the 69th minute, he controlled a nod down from Brad Inman and lashed the ball home off the underside of the bar.
It was tough on a Wellington side who had spurned some very presentable opportunities in the first half but make the trip back over the Tasman empty-handed.
During the opening 45 minutes, it wasn’t difficult to see why the Nix were seeking to earn a club record of ten games unbeaten. Many had tipped them for a season of struggle, but under Coach Ufuk Talay, they looked a cohesive and well-drilled unit.
Firstly, Jaushua Sotirio saw his thunderous drive ricochet off the crossbar and, later, it was defender Steven Taylor’s turn to hit the woodwork with a thumping header. In between these chances, Wellington also had a decent penalty appeal turned down by referee Alex King – and upheld by the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) – when Sotirio’s shot appeared to hit the hand of Roar midfielder Jacob Pepper.
The second half saw Brisbane start to take the game to their opponents as the heavens opened, forcing some of the 10,000-odd crowd to seek shelter higher up in the stands.
New signing Scott McDonald entered the fray in the 55th minute, after only rubber-stamping his move from Western United the day before, but he was usurped by fellow substitute Wenzel Hall, who has found opportunities under Robbie Fowler this season, limited.
Phoenix searched for an equaliser and the Roar were indebted to keeper Jamie Young, who superbly tipped over an effort from Phoenix’s Mexican attacker Ulises Davila. As the game entered its final moments, Brisbane had a chance to seal the win when Wenzel Hall squared the ball for Brad Inman — who only had Wellington keeper Stefan Marinovic to beat from eight yards out.
The attacking midfielder has been in fine goalscoring form of late; scoring four goals in his last three games, but somehow he scuffed his shot wide to make the last few minutes much nervier for the Roar than they needed to be.
But Brisbane did hold out to take all three points and climb to seventh on the A-League ladder at the halfway mark of the season. For Wellington, the disappointment of failing to go a record ten games unbeaten is tempered by the fact that they remain in fourth spot.
The Roar travels to Gosford next week to take on the Central Coast Mariners while Phoenix is back in action at home to Newcastle Jets.
SCORE: Brisbane Roar 1 – Wellington Phoenix 0
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