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Player safety in spotlight as United wilt in Hindmarsh furnace


Some Wellington Phoenix players were ill with heatstroke during their 2-2 away draw against Adelaide yesterday after a request to delay the game was refused.

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Phoenix staff asked Football Federation Australia to delay kick-off in the fixture at Coopers Stadium in Adelaide which was played in oppressive temperatures above 38 degrees.

Wellington’s request was refused and the match went ahead as scheduled from 4.30pm.

Some Phoenix players suffered heatstroke and were sick at halftime of a game which featured drinks breaks at 15-minute intervals.

“They’re absolutely shattered,” Wellington’s coach Chris Greenacre said of his players.

Phoenix players stop to drink during the round 17 A-League match between the Adelaide United and Wellington Phoenix at Coopers Stadium in Adelaide, Sunday, Jan. 29, 2017. (AAP Image/David Mariuz) NO ARCHIVING, EDITORIAL USE ONLY

Phoenix players stop to drink during yesterday’s match. Photo: David Mariuz / AAP

“At the end of the day we are wanting to put a product out there for everybody.

“For fans at home they want to see a high-tempo game, lots of opportunities and I think factors like the heat really set us back a little bit.

“It could probably be addressed better after today, it probably will be addressed I think.

“It’s about the welfare of the players, that is what matters.

“Supporters will always come to the games and we’re concerned of their welfare; the players are the guys out there that are really putting their necks on the line.”

Wellington faded in a stifling second half – they led 2-1 until an 80th minute Adelaide equaliser.

And it was a costly result for the Phoenix, who would have been fifth had they won – instead, they’re seventh.

Adelaide coach Guillermo Amor was pragmatic about the heat controversy.

“It’s the federation, when to start,” Amor said.

“They say we play tonight at eight o’clock, we play eight o’clock. If they say we play tomorrow, Monday, we play Monday.”

Amor’s Reds remain last on the ladder but took the lead in the seventh minute when 18-year-old Riley McGree scored his first A-League goal – a thundering first-time left-footer from 15m.

But four minutes later, Wellington’s Thomas Doyle sliced through four Adelaide opponents before launching a cracking 15m blast of his own which struck the inside of the near post before finding the net.

Doyle’s teammate Roy Krishna put the visitors ahead with a classy finish in the 37th minute – after being played in by Kosta Barbarouses after a swift transition, he calmly slid the ball past Adelaide goalkeeper Eugene Galekovic.

Adelaide pressed for an equaliser for much of the second half and were rewarded when Nikola Mileusnic scored – like teammate McGree, it was his first goal in the league.

After Ben Garrucio’s free kick struck the left post, Mileusnic scrambled a tap-in from the rebound near the right post.


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