A-League: Ufuk Talay's tenure as Wellington Phoenix coach ends with early playoffs exit against Adelaide United

The A-League season has ended in familiar fashion for the Wellington Phoenix who were beaten 2-0 by Adelaide United in an elimination final.

Adelaide captain and Socceroos international Craig Goodwin scored twice for the home side at Coopers Stadium, meaning Wellington have fallen at the first playoff hurdle in four of the last five seasons.

Phoenix react to missed chance.
Phoenix react to missed chance. Photo credit: Getty Images

Wellington mistakes led to both of Goodwin's goals, the second of which came from the penalty spot midway through the second half.

The Phoenix only managed two shots on target in the match; one in the opening seconds and the second in second half stoppage time, but captain Alex Rufer also hit the post on the stroke of halftime, coming within inches of levelling the scores.

It was the last match in charge for head coach Ufuk Talay, who was disappointed to have bowed out in such fashion.

"Two mistakes cost us two goals," Talay said.

"One we didn't clear the ball and the second one we didn't kill the game from our set piece and allowed them to get in our box.

"We had an opportunity from a set piece where the ball hits the post and doesn't go in.

"I thought we were in the game, even at 1-0. To concede the second goal the way that we did is very disappointing.

"Overall, I think we played a good game. They were clinical in two moments from two big mistakes of ours and we walk away losing the game 2-0."

The defeat signals the end of Talay's four years in charge of the Nix, while a number of Wellington players, including Oli Sail, Clayton Lewis and Steven Ugarkovic have played their final game for the club.

"It's been a challenging four seasons to be honest. Being away for two seasons, based in Australia, because of Covid was challenging times, but there were a lot of moments for growth for myself.

"I have a lot of gratitude towards this club. They gave me my first opportunity as a head coach to showcase my talents.

"I've worked alongside some very special people and I'll watching from afar."

He believes he's leaving the club in good hands, with assistant coach Giancarlo Italiano to take over next season.

"The club's in a fantastic spot at the moment. They've got a good core group of players that are retained for next season. That's something for Chiefy to build on.

"Facilities wise and academy wise the club is in a fantastic space. The club's heading in the right direction and is in a fantastic place moving forward."

Ufuk Talay named the same XI which started last week's 1-0 win over Macarthur FC. There was one change on the bench, with Finn Surman replacing fellow centre back Nikko Boxall, who didn't travel to Adelaide because of illness.

Adelaide goalkeeper Joe Gauci was called into action little over 60 seconds into the match, forced to make a sharp save to his right after Oskar Zawada won possession high up the park and unleashed a powerful left-footed shot from the edge of the area.

The visitors found themselves a goal down from the Reds' first shot on target when they failed to clear a right-wing cross.

Goodwin pounced, cutting on to his less favoured right foot and curling a shot into the far corner of Wellington's goal.

The Nix finished the first half the stronger of the two sides. Yan Sasse pulled a shot narrowly wide of Gauci's left-hand post from outside the box, before Zawada went down in the Adelaide box but had his penalty claim waved away by referee Alireza Faghani.

Talay had to make his first substitution at halftime with forward Kosta Barbarouses forced off with an apparent hamstring strain and replaced by Bozhidar Kraev.

But with their speed the Reds always looked dangerous on the counter and they broke quickly from a Phoenix free-kick on the edge of the area to earn a penalty in the 65th minute and give themselves an opportunity to double their lead.

Goodwin duly stepped up to the spot after winning the penalty and slotted his shot up the middle after Sail dived to his right.