Daniel Richardson

Daniel Richardson is a Wellington-based sports journalist for NZME. News Service.

Soccer: Jets coach doesn't see any change in Phoenix style

Louis Fenton of the Phoenix and Scott Neville of the Jets compete for the ball. Photo / Getty Images
Louis Fenton of the Phoenix and Scott Neville of the Jets compete for the ball. Photo / Getty Images

For all the talk around tactical changes at the Wellington Phoenix, one man hasn't noticed anything different about the way they play football.

The under-fire Phoenix have attempted to employ a possession-based focus during the past six weeks but the supposed change in approach hasn't yielded success because they haven't won in their past five outings.

Playing pretty football is one thing but substance will trump style if it results in putting three points on the board and considering the Phoenix are last on the A-League ladder after 18 rounds their fanbase would take any kind of win at the moment.

On Sunday the Phoenix were held to a boring 1-1 draw against the Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium after a 73rd minute goal from Emile Heskey rubbed out the advantage the home side earned through Louis Fenton in the first spell.

It was a throwback performance to the days of when the Phoenix knew what they were about.

They had a stern focus on stout defence, coupled with a cross-heavy approach and played with the sort of heart that hadn't been seen in a couple of months.

Newcastle coach Gary van Egmond was asked after the game if he thought the Phoenix were a changed outfit of late.

"From a perspective of maybe, like you said, confidence, but that also comes with getting results and what have you," van Egmond said.

"I think they're a different team but I don't think they're a different team in regards to how they look to play."

It was a fair assessment too.

Wellington's goal came on the back of a Ben Sigmund long ball and they should've opened the scoring only minutes earlier from the same provider but Jeremy Brockie failed to find the back of the net with the goal at his mercy.

Fenton's goal was his third of the season and a nice return for a good performance from the 19-year-old from Tawa who has been the find of the summer for the Phoenix.

The Phoenix have been guilty of spurning chances in front of goal in recent weeks and even though they were beaten 7-1 against Sydney FC in round 17 they could have been three or four goals to the good in the early stages of the game.

Wellington assistant coach Chris Greenacre, who spent 17 years as a striker in the professional ranks, said the goals were on the horizon for his men they just needed to be more clinical.

"We had a couple of chances [yesterday] and in fairness we've created a lot of opportunities of late and we are just waiting to stick it in the back of the net," he said.

"But from a personal point of view I think when you're creating opportunities that's always a positive. Having been there myself where we haven't created much and strikers aren't getting chances is a real sore point. But we'll keep continuing to train hard, work hard, keep getting those balls in the right areas and I'm sure the tide will turn at some point, we've just got to keep putting those chances in for the strikers."

Wellington's next chance to get back in the winner's circle comes on Saturday night when they host the Perth Glory in a "home" game at Auckland's Eden Park.

- APNZ

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