Soccer: Herbert satisfied with point

Louis Fenton of the Phoenix competes for the ball with Ben Halloran and Michael Theo of the Roar. Photo / Getty Images
Louis Fenton of the Phoenix competes for the ball with Ben Halloran and Michael Theo of the Roar. Photo / Getty Images

Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert thinks the result his unbeaten team earned yesterday against Brisbane was a point won, rather than two dropped.

Usually, anything less than a win at the Ring of Fire is considered unacceptable but the draw with the Roar was probably the exception to that rule.

Brisbane boast a formidable record at Westpac Stadium, losing only one game at a venue that has been a graveyard for most other A-League teams. Yesterday's result was their third draw, to go along with three wins, from seven games at the stadium.

The Roar were the opposition when Wellington's record 24-match unbeaten streak at Westpac Stadium came to an end - and the Roar were also the last side to win in Wellington before that streak began.

Regardless of the venue, the two-time defending champions came into the fixture in fine form following a 5-0 thumping of the Melbourne Victory.

The Phoenix, on the other hand, had a disrupted build-up due to international commitments, with seven players required to play midweek football - common around the globe but not in this part of the world.

It has been a difficult period for the Phoenix and, considering the pedigree and previous record of the opposition, Herbert was pleased to get through it still unbeaten.

"When you put it into the context of what we've had to cope with in the last couple of weeks it is a very good point to get," he said. "Fatigue was always going to be a factor, especially with the All Whites who played three games in a week and did a lot of travelling.

"Overall, I have to be satisfied with a point because Brisbane are a decent side."

Brisbane coach Rado Vidosic thought Herbert's estimation of the Queenslanders was one of the reasons his side have experienced so much success in the capital.

"I think maybe they respect us too much," he said. "You saw the way they played against Sydney (a 2-0 home win to begin the season). They were in [their] faces for longer periods of time. They did not back off even when they scored the first goal.

"With us, we do play a little bit differently than anyone else in Australia. Maybe that's why we have such good success here."

As was the case in last week's draw with the Melbourne Heart, the Phoenix could easily have taken three points against Brisbane but just as easily could have finished with nothing.

Had the Phoenix been able to add to Stein Huysegems 16th minute goal with any of the clear-cut scoring chances they created in the following 20 minutes, it would have been difficult for the Roar to come back.

Instead, the visitors worked their way back into the game and a defensive lapse allowed Besart Berisha a clear run on goal to score his 24th goal in 32 games for Brisbane.

The Phoenix were without regular captain Andrew Durante, who was ruled out through illness, and they will be hoping he is well enough to travel to Adelaide for Saturday's match.

In Durante's place, Michael Boxall had another strong match, and Herbert was pleased to give more game time to another couple of youngsters.

"It was good to get young Tyler (Boyd) on again and Louis (Fenton) is still playing, though he looked a little jaded today."

With three solid results perhaps heightening expectations on this side of the Tasman, Herbert attempted to downplay the strong start.

"This is a transition year for us and we may go up and down a bit, but the club is really starting to evolve."

- APNZ

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