Soccer: Phoenix do it easy

By Daniel Richardson

Nicky Ward scored a late goal to cement the Phoenix victory over Gold Coast Utd. Photo / Getty Images
Nicky Ward scored a late goal to cement the Phoenix victory over Gold Coast Utd. Photo / Getty Images

Wellington Phoenix 2
Gold Coast Utd 0

It wasn't the prettiest of performances but the Wellington Phoenix banked another valuable three points with a 2-0 win over Gold Coast United in Wellington today.

Played in cool, but dry, conditions at Westpac Stadium, the Phoenix failed to take advantage of their plethora of chances to rack up a high score, but the final result was all that mattered.

Shot after shot flew in to the box - mostly directly straight at United goalkeeper Jerrad Tyson - as the Phoenix failed to put the result beyond doubt.

They were also their own worst enemy at times as Tim Brown and Leo Bertos both butchered golden scoring opportunities during the game.

Thankfully for the home side, they can always rely on Andrew Durante in some form and the skipper tapped in a rare goal from close range in the 29th minute, which gave them the advantage on the score sheet they richly deserved.

Substitute Nicky Ward put the icing on the cake when he bundled a goal home in stoppage time to ensure victory.

The Phoenix came in to the game with the ability to claim back third place in the A-League from the Perth Glory - provided they could pick up the three points.

There was some speculation during the week surrounding whether the game would even go ahead due to the turmoil Gold Coast are in.

Football Federation Australia terminated the licence of club owner Clive Palmer on Wednesday and there was a chance the fixture was going to be postponed.

The Phoenix were desperate to play the game to continue their momentum - after they toppled Sydney FC 1-0 last week - and given the dominance they showed you could see why.

Gold Coast barely featured in the game with a team of virtual no names outside of skipper Michael Thwaite, although busy goalkeeper Tyson only enhanced his reputation as a player for the future with a string of fine saves.

Wellington were without regular left back Tony Lochhead, who missed the game due to illness, which pushed Vince Lia out to the left-side of defence in his place.

Phoenix goalkeeper Mark Paston, who conceded three goals for New Zealand in a mid-week international friendly against Jamaica, would have been pleased to punch out his timesheet with a clean sheet.

An undersized crowd of 7431 were on hand to watch the contest, although that figure could have been influenced by the poor quality of opposition or uncertainty over the fixture.

The result left Gold Coast further back on the bottom of the table and seemingly unbackable favourites to pick up the wooden spoon with three games left.

The Phoenix travel to Melbourne this week to meet the Heart and Victory within seven days in Victoria before they finish the season at home against the Central Coast Mariners on March 25

Wellington Phoenix 2 (Andrew Durante 29', Nicky Ward 90+3') Gold Coast United 0 HT: 1-0

- APNZ

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