Soccer: Phoenix lifted by 4-pointer in Perth

By Terry Maddaford

Jeremy Brockie. Photo / Getty Images.
Jeremy Brockie. Photo / Getty Images.

Banking four of a possible six points on a testing road trip will give the Phoenix plenty of heart when they return to Wellington on Sunday to play newcomers the Western Sydney Wanderers.

Having lost on six of their seven previous trips to Perth, the Phoenix went into Saturday's game at nib Stadium determined the "distance derby" would not bring more disappointment, especially after their encouraging return to form six days earlier when they beat the Newcastle Jets 3-0 at Hunter Stadium.

In the end, three All Whites team-mates played crucial roles in the drawn contest which left Perth Glory in fifth place - two points and two spots higher on the table than the Phoenix.

Shane Smeltz, the A-League's all-time leading goal-scorer, grabbed his first of the season on his return to the Glory. His 62nd minute effort, when he carved through a flat-footed Phoenix defence, was matched 11 minutes later by Jeremy Brockie, who scored his fifth of the season.

That goal took Brockie into second equal in the golden boot race joining marquee stars Alessandro del Piero and Emile Heskey on that mark.

Herbert pointed to the decision to stay in Australia after the game in Newcastle as a telling factor which followed poor results in previous trips to Western Australia.

"The owners made it possible for us to stay in Australia rather than returning home after the win in Newcastle," said coach Ricki Herbert who was delighted in the manner his team bounced back from three straight losses before the win over the Jets.

"It has been a difficult period with four of our last five games away from home and we have come out of it with credit. I thought we acquitted ourselves well and had our finishing been more clinical we could have won the game.

"We've got a couple of games at home now and have to make the most of those because there isn't much between any of the teams in this competition," said Herbert. "With many of our players having travelled to China in the lead-up to the games here and in Newcastle they showed great resilience."

The point in Perth was timely as the Phoenix now face the Wanderers and Sydney FC at Westpac Stadium before the tough test away to leaders Adelaide United, who cleared out to a five-point lead with their dramatic last-minute 2-1 winner over hapless Sydney FC who are back at the bottom of the ladder.

- NZ Herald

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