Soccer: Resurgent Phoenix ready for Glory

By Terry Maddaford

Ryan Griffiths of the Jets and Andrew Durante of the Phoenix during the round seven A-League match. Photo / Getty Images
Ryan Griffiths of the Jets and Andrew Durante of the Phoenix during the round seven A-League match. Photo / Getty Images

A second win and with it a second clean sheet of the season elevated the Wellington Phoenix into sixth place on the A-League ladder for a time on Sunday before dropping back to seventh after 10-man Western Sydney Wanderers won 1-0 in Perth.

It was a face-saving 3-0 victory over the Newcastle Jets for the Phoenix, who went into round seven at the foot of the table with just one win - their 2-0 opening round success over Sydney FC in Wellington.

After the match, Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert described the win as perhaps their best on the road in their six seasons in the league.

That it came against Jets was little surprise. It was a sixth straight win for the Phoenix over the Novocastrians who last won (or took a point from the Wellington side) with a 1-0 home win in November 2010.

Since that game the Phoenix have won six, scored 14 and conceded only two - in a 5-2 win last season.

In scoring twice against the club who let him go at the end of last season, Jeremy Brockie, who also scored twice in the 2-3 loss to Melbourne Victory, took his season tally to four.

He now shares fourth place (along with All Whites teammate Marco Rojas and others) in the golden boot race, just a goal behind marquee signings Alessandro Del Piero and Emile Heskey who trail leader Daniel McBreen (Central Coast) by two.

Not for the first time this season, Sydney FC have found themselves back propping up the table following their 2-4 loss away to Brisbane Roar.

It was the defending champions' second win of the season and lifted them above Melbourne Heart, who went down 0-1 away to leaders Adelaide United.

The Phoenix are now in Perth preparing for Saturday's game against a hurting Glory, who had their seven-match winning run at home ended by the Wanderers. It was the first loss on home turf for Ian Ferguson's team since going down to a rampant Roar in February this year.

Speaking after the loss to the Sydneysiders, Ferguson tagged the result as "three points lost", vowing his team needs to be more ruthless.

Perth were without Shane Smeltz - excused for "personal reasons" - but Ferguson hopes to have his star striker back to face many of his All Whites teammates in Saturday's showdown. Perth hold fourth place on goal difference from Western Sydney and Melbourne Victory.

With the Wanderers to play the Victory, also on Saturday, a win for the Phoenix could take them as high as fourth, an indication of just how tight the league is.

- NZ Herald

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