Four players certain to be named this week in Ricki Herbert's All Whites squad to play New Caledonia and the Solomon Islands had mixed fortunes in round 23 A-League action.
Man of the match Marco Rojas scored twice in Melbourne Victory's 5-0 hammering of Newcastle in the last game of the round.
Earlier in Sunday action, Jeremy Brockie scored the only goal of the match as Wellington beat visiting Melbourne Heart 1-0 in Dunedin while Shane Smeltz grabbed the winner as Perth edged Sydney 2-1.
There was no such joy for All Whites midfielder Michael McGlinchey, who joined his Central Coast teammates in the disappointing 0-1 home loss to Western Sydney and with it the league lead. It was the third successive match in which the Mariners have missed a penalty. In two of those games they have been beaten 1-2 and 0-1.
In scoring his 14th goal of the season, Brockie closed to within one of golden boot leader Daniel McBreen (Central Coast). Brockie is two clear of third-placed Rojas who is joined on 12 by last season's golden boot Besart Berisha and Sydney star Alessandro del Piero.
In a poll on the league's website, Rojas and de Piero are clear favourites to claim the Johnny Warren Medal won last season by Brisbane's Thomas Broich. He, along with Western Sydney's Youssouf Hersi, leads the "assists" list with eight, one more than McGlinchey with Rojas one further back.
While the Phoenix were happy to claim their second win in 11 matches - the other 1-0 at home to fellow wooden spoon contenders Perth - they may well be back on the wrong side of the ledger on Sunday when they face league leaders Western Sydney at Parramatta Stadium. In their earlier clashes, both at Westpac Stadium, the Phoenix won 1-0 and lost 0-2.
That game will be followed by the daunting trip to Perth before the All Whites play their World Cup qualifiers against New Caledonia, in Dunedin on March 22, and the Solomon Islands in Honiara four days later.By Terry Maddaford Email Terry