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Phoenix defenseman Tim Payne was sent off early in the second half.
At Central Energy Trust Arena, Palmerston North: Wellington Phoenix 2 (Oskar Zawada 11′, Kosta Barbarouses 20′) Perth glory 2 (David Williams 22′, 80′). HT: 2-1
Wellington Phoenix let a two-goal lead slip to draw 2-2 with Perth Glory at Palmerston North on Saturday after defender Tim Payne was controversially sent off following VAR interference.
First-half goals from forwards Oskar Zawada and Kosta Barbarouses had put the Phoenix on track for a fourth successive victory, despite David Williams pulling one back for Glory during a frenetic 45-minute first period.
But the Phoenix couldn’t hold on with 10 men after losing Payne to a persistent red card in the 56th minute – his sending off proved to be a major turning point in the game.
Just as the Yellow Fever prepared to take their shirts off, former Phoenix favorite Williams popped up at the near post and drew the Glory level with a thumping header in the 80th minute to pick up a point.
Payne was initially booked by referee Lachlan Keevers after Williams went down under minimal contact when he appeared to get a pass that would have put him on target.
Despite the fact that Williams had not received the ball, that Phoenix defenders Josh Laws and Callan Elliot were present, and that Payne had shown no malicious intent but simply swept the striker, Keevers wiped the water off the TV monitor and suggested the Glory fixed. a clear scoring opportunity was denied.
The yellow card was upgraded to a red and Payne was relegated to the touchline. He will now miss the Phoenix’s next game, against Melbourne Victory this Friday, leaving them without their first-choice centre-back and Scott Wootton still injured.
With Sky Stadium unavailable, as well as many other venues across the country, the Phoenix moved their Distance Derby clash two hours north to Central Energy Trust Arena.
They were greeted with a shocking surface showing the effects of the recent Juicy Fest concert and a speedway gathering from seven days earlier.
It was particularly bad in the penalty area at the south end of the pitch, where the concert stage had been, causing chaos for the two goalkeepers.
After a nerve-racking moment where Oli Sail slipped as he went to claim the ball at the edge of the area, the Phoenix went down on the other side and scored.
Who else but Zawada, who scored in every match during the four match series. The Polish striker opened the scoring with a flying header in the 11th minute after being handpicked by Payne.
Zawada now has seven goals this season, making it the most productive period of his career.
Zawada’s striker Barbarouses also got in on the act, tapping home from a rebound in the 20th minute after Glory goalkeeper Cam Cook spilled the slippery ball following a Lucas Mauragis effort from the left.
Glory cut the deficit to one two minutes later when Williams called Callan Elliot out at the back post to score with a header.
The opportunity arose after John Koutroumbis got the better of the otherwise brilliant Mauragis and smashed the ball in at Sail.
The ball raced back to Koutroumbis and he was able to cross it to the lurking Williams.
The Glory came agonizingly close to three points in stoppage time, but substitute Giordano Colli could only rattle the crossbar.
The Phoenix won a late corner, but Keevers blew the full-time whistle before they could get it, denying them a final scoring opportunity.