Strugglers Wellington Phoenix sealed one of the shocks of the season with Blake Powell scoring four in a mauling of the high-flying Western Sydney Wanderers at home.
Wanderers fizzle as Powell blasts four for Phoenix
Despite limited ball, the Phoenix were able to put five goals past the second-placed Wanderers. Blake Powell becoming the league's first player to score more than twice in a match this season.
After a week of fan troubles, the Wanderers displayed their worst performance of their season as they provided little resistance to a ruthless Phoenix side. For all the attention on their problematic supporters, the absence of Andreu, Dimas and Alberto Aguilar almost went unnoticed and without that trio, one of the title favourites looked little more than cellar dwellers.
For all their dominance of possession, the Wanderers looked to have little idea what to do with the ball and playing out of pressure was ad-hoc rather than seamless and fluid.
The Wanderers' sluggish backline was caught napping by Tom Doyle, who supplied a well-timed cross to the unmarked Blake Powell, who pounced with a diving header into the net. The hosts nearly drew level just five minutes later when Mark Bridge embarked on a one-man counter-attack, finding Dutch winger Romeo Castelen whose back post lunge rattled the cross bar instead of the net. Wellington goalkeeper Glen Moss produce a stunning save to deny the Wanderers minutes later when Dario Vidosic's well-placed shot still wasn't sufficient to beat the New Zealand international before Bridge spurned a guilt-edge chance in front of goal.
The wasteful finishing that was concerning became costly when Powell struck his second. Bringing a stray long ball down and letting fly with a fierce left-foot shot, Powell displayed superb technique to silence the home fans. It was barely half an hour into the match when Powell sealed his hat-trick.
From a tame long ball, Powell outmuscled his former teammate Scott Jamieson before chipping the ball into the net, past an oncoming Andrew Redmayne.
There was no stopping the man who was playing state league football last year and midway through the struck the back of the net for the fourth time this afternoon with a diving back post header.
The Wanderers side that began disjointed quickly became dejected. Their attacks broke down under minimal pressure and poor cohesion gave them little opportunities in dangerous areas.
When they couldn't come close to goal, Mitch Nichols took matters into his own hands, unleashing a powerful long-range drive to reduce the deficit. Some pride was restored for the hosts via Bridge, slotting through the legs of Moss but it was too little, too late for the Wanderers. A late red card and subsequent penalty allowed Phoenix to seal the rout and in doing so, the Wanderers surrendered top spot on the table in lacklustre fashion.