Wellington Phoenix men cry foul after VAR misses clear push on Callan Elliot

Phoenix defender Callan Elliot pleads with referee Shaun Lucas.

Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Phoenix defender Callan Elliot pleads with referee Shaun Lucas.

Wellington Phoenix men’s coach Ufuk Talay has been left seething after a controversial goal from former striker Tomer Hemed gave Western Sydney Wanderers a dramatic 2-0 win at WIN Stadium in Wollongong on Friday, ending their 13-game unbeaten run.

Referee Stephen Lucas needed the help of video assistant referee Kris Griffiths-Jones to confirm the ball had crossed the line before awarding the 66th minute goal to the Wanderers after James McGarry tried his best to clear it off the line.

But while replays showed the entire ball had indeed crossed the line, Griffiths-Jones missed the blatant shove from Hemed on Callan Elliot in the lead-up, which should have resulted in a foul to the Phoenix.

Not only did Hemed shove Elliot, leaving the former Israeli international unmarked at the far post, but Elliot went crashing into goalkeeper Oli Sail, who dropped the ball while attempting to gather Bernie Ibini’s flick-on header following a free-kick, enabling Hemed to put the Wanderers in front.

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“It’s a tough pill to swallow,” Talay said. “I thought we were the better team throughout the game.

“I think, in my opinion, a poor decision in refereeing, a foul on Callan Elliot inside the box, led to the goal.

“At the end of the day whether it finished 5-0 or 2-0 or 1-0, it’s disappointing because I thought we were the better team overall for 90 minutes.”

Western Sydney captain Rhys Williams points to the big screen after Stephen Lucas checks Tomer Hemed’s goal with the video assistant referee.

Mark Kolbe/Getty Images

Western Sydney captain Rhys Williams points to the big screen after Stephen Lucas checks Tomer Hemed’s goal with the video assistant referee.

Talay wondered if Griffith-Jones had only checked to see if the ball had crossed the line when he reviewed the footage and had not noticed the push.

“In my opinion they may have missed the push on Cal Elliot.”

Talay said he would speak with the club before deciding whether to follow the incident up with the league bosses.

“At the end of the day there are mistakes within the game, players make 1000 mistakes within the game, but in my opinion the officials can’t get it wrong.”

John Koutroumbis sealed the win in stoppage time, running the length of the pitch to score into an empty net after Sail went up for a corner in search of a late equaliser and left the Nix with no one back to cover.

“You never want to concede goals, whether it’s one, two or three, but it was the dying seconds of the game, we pushed everyone forward to try and equalise and it’s one of those ones where they break and they score.”

The Phoenix had the ball in the back of the net in the first half, but Joshua Laws was deemed offside.

The loss was the Phoenix’s first since round 15 of last season and prevented them from equalling their best-ever start to an A-League Men campaign.

Western Sydney Wanderers 2 (Tomer Hemed 66’, John Koutroumbis 90+3’) Wellington Phoenix 0

HT: 0-0

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