Wellington Phoenix rue early miss after losing to Sydney FC in A-League Women

Wellington Phoenix defender Kate Taylor, right, tries to hold off the challenge from Sydney FC striker Remy Siemsen.

Matt King/Getty Images

Wellington Phoenix defender Kate Taylor, right, tries to hold off the challenge from Sydney FC striker Remy Siemsen.

Wellington Phoenix have fallen to their second consecutive defeat in the A-League Women, but they will be pleased to have put in a more competitive showing than they did in their previous game.

The Phoenix were beaten 3-0 by last season’s beaten finalists Sydney FC in sweltering conditions at Netstrata Jubilee Stadium on Sunday, undone by two moments of brilliance before a poor giveaway allowed Mackenzie Hawkesby to put the game to bed in the 66th minute.

They were left to rue a missed opportunity early in the game when midfielder Alyssa Whinham, who was a real standout on her starting debut, beat two defenders with her footwork but did not back herself to shoot when it was the best option available.

Chloe Knott, playing further forward in the absence of injured striker Grace Jale, created the goal-scoring opportunity by stealing possession high up the pitch.

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Having done all the hard work, beating two players in one-on-one situations, Whinham, elected not to shoot and instead laid a pass off at the far post. However, there was no one there to meet it.

Sydney hit the lead through the impressive Cortnee Vine in the 24th minute.

The right winger got behind Saskia Vosper following a throw-in and after throwing her hands in the air, wondering where her passing options were, Vine decided to go for it herself and poked the ball past Lily Alfeld, who was expecting it to be squared across goal, at the near post.

Phoenix coach Gemma Lewis made two changes to her starting XI, bringing midfielder Whinham and left winger Kelli Brown in for Jale and Jordan Jasnos.

Brown only lasted 38 minutes in her first A-League Women game, replaced by Talitha Kramer after struggling with an apparent hamstring injury.

Sydney doubled their lead through substitute Charlize Rule in the 53rd minute. Rule popped up at the far post and scored with a simple tap in after left winger Princess Ibini’s shot took a heavy deflection off Mackenzie Barry.

Alfeld pulled off a great save to deny Vine a second goal, springing off her line to bat the ball away for a corner in the 65th.

But Sydney got their third moments later when Barry, who put in a tireless shift at the back, lost possession, allowing Ibini to get in behind and square a pass to an unmarked Hawkesby at the far post.

After Whinham’s earlier effort, Phoenix were reduced to long-range shots and rarely troubled Whyman, who was even substituted midway through the second half, once Sydney went three goals ahead.

But despite losing 3-0, the Phoenix held their own against one of the title favourites for large periods of the game, which was played in 30 degree Celsius heat.

They were more organised defensively than they were against Newcastle Jets last week, when they conceded five goals, and looked more composed in possession, with Whinham making a huge difference.

Sydney FC 3 (Cortnee Vine 24’, Charlize Rule 53’, Mackenzie Hawkesby 66’) Wellington Phoenix 0

HT: 1-0

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