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Corner Chat: Exploring the Phoenix’s Woes From The Flags

I can't resist a good photo of a corner flag

It has been an excellent season for the Wellington Phoenix thus far. Their attack is firing on all cylinders with Nathan Burns and Roy Krishna slotting home goals at absurd rates. Roly Bonevacia and Michael McGlinchey are proving to be great acquisitions, chipping in the odd goal to go with their workrate and creative passing elements. Alex Gorrin and Albert Riera are dominating the majority of midfield battles, and Andrew Durante and Ben Sigmund are ageing well with some impressive displays in the middle of the defensive unit.

Alas, there’s still one element to the game which seems to be a constant weakness of the Phoenix – corners. Overhit, underhit, directly out of play, cleared, or not getting past the first man – it seems the Phoenix have every type of corner delivery up their sleeves except the ones that lead to a goal.

Of course, could this perceived weakness just be confirmation bias? If I believe the Phoenix are bad at something, I’m more inclined to notice a bad corner than a successful one, therefore selectively remembering corners which back up my theory. Football fans are particularly great at this when it comes to ignoring their teams doing things (like diving) while firing into rage when it happens against them.

So, I dug deep into the archives to see the results – are the Phoenix bad at corners? I present to you, the first ever #STATCHAT about corner taking…

Corner Chat:

1. The Phoenix have taken 59 unsuccessful corners since their last goal from a corner.

2. The Phoenix have scored just once from their last 160 corners.

3. That one goal? This scorcher of a goal by Jeremy Brockie at 3.20:

4. Since the start of the 2013-2014 season, the Phoenix have scored two goals from corners. They have attempted 196 corners.

5. Both those goals were volleys, the second being this goal by Kenny Cunningham at 1.52:

6. The Phoenix’s last direct headed goal from a corner occurred on the 30th of March, 2012, from Ben Sigmund.

7. In the team for that game? Mirjan Pavlovic, Nick Ward, Tony Warner, Tim Brown and Daniel.

8. That goal was scored 1,004 days ago.

9. The Phoenix have played 67 A-League games since then without a direct header from a corner.

10. That is an astonishing 6,072 minutes of gameplay without scoring a direct header from a corner.

To provide added context to these figures, I looked at two other A-League sides and how they fared from corners since the start of last season. Here’s the results:

Central Coast Mariners: 3 goals from 167 corners (1.8%)

Perth Glory: 8 goals from 209 corners (3.8%)

Compare that to the Phoenix – 2 goals from 196 corners (1%) – and adding in some context on how often you can be expected to score from corners, it’s still fair to say that the Phoenix are drastically underperforming from the corner flag.

Notes From Last Night:

  • Michael McGlinchey had a perfect passing day – completing all 38 of his passes while also setting up four shots at goal.
  • On the other hand, Vince Lia had the worst passing percentage of a Nix midfielder this season, at 25/38 (65.8%).
  • Strikers Roy Krishna (5/10), Nathan Burns (14/21) and Jeremy Brockie (8/13) also were all less accurate than their season percentages.
  • For an attack-minded player, Krishna has been giving pretty good support to his wingback Tom Doyle this season, and three tackles and two clearances in just 52 minutes is excellent defensive work from the winger.
  • However, with Krishna out for the next game with a hamstring injury, and Burns off to the Socceroos, who will step in up front? Will we see a return for Tyler Boyd, or will Kenny Cunningham get a chance to rekindle his form from the middle of last season with a start up front?
  • Finally, I’m not sure I see where the furious debate over the penalty has come from. Any calls of a dive are unfounded due to Krishna’s complete lack of calls for the penalty, while the 17-year old defender (making me feel old) has no complaints. What looked like an innocent ankle-tap is still worthy of a penalty.
  • Oh, that reminds me. Should penalty takers be allowed to tuck away the rebound if the keeper parries the penalty? An argument could be made that it rewards incompetence, and that the ball should be up for grabs for anyone but the penalty taker. Maybe I’m too sympathetic towards the keeper in those scenarios, but you could probably talk me into a rule change when I’m in a contrarian mood.

Categories: A-League

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Niall Anderson

Hamilton raised, Niall Anderson now halves his time between university studies in Auckland and catching up on all things Waikato football in the Tron. Having covered Waikato FC and WaiBOP United in the ASB Premiership, Niall is also the lead writer at Find him on Twitter @NiallGunner.

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