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Downey returns to A-League

FORMER Gympie flier Jimmy Downey made his return for the A-League running for Wellington Phoenix in their 1-all draw against Gold Coast United at Skilled Park.

Downey started Saturday's game on the bench but was one of three Phoenix players injected into the game in the second half after injury to Vince Lia, Paul I fill and Dani Sanchez.

The draw could have easily been an upset win for the Phoenix.

Ahead 1-0 as the clock ticked down, the Phoenix gave up a late goal and were forced to settle for a share of the points in a courageous draw.

His team already depleted by serious injuries to Lucas Pantelis (season-ending) and Mirjan Pavlovic (8-10 weeks), coach Ricki Herbert has an anxious wait for reports on the three players forced out of the season opener.

Gold Coast, unbeaten in their 16-match pre-season campaign, went in as clear favourites and made much of the early play.

In less than 10 minutes they had the ball in the Phoenix goal, but former Phoenix striker Dylan MacAllister was offside.

Play swung back and forth.

United had their chances but Ben Sigmund found a rock in Phoenix's defence.

In a breakaway raid, Manny Muscat raced wide on the right, before sending a pinpoint cross into Chris Greenacre, who made the finish for 1-0 look simple.

The Gold Coast equaliser came late in the second half when James Brown scored.

It was a good point for the Phoenix, who Gold Coast coach Miron Bleiberg rated as the wooden spoon favourites in the match lead-up.

Topics:  a-league gold coast united wellington phoenix

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