Soccer: Phoenix earn rare away win

By Kris Shannon

Scott Jamieson of the Perth Glory controls the ball during the round 25 A-League match between the Perth Glory and the Wellington Phoenix. Photo / Getty Images
Scott Jamieson of the Perth Glory controls the ball during the round 25 A-League match between the Perth Glory and the Wellington Phoenix. Photo / Getty Images

The Wellington Phoenix took one step out of the A-League cellar last night but they still face a battle on their hands if they are to avoid the wooden spoon.

The Phoenix picked up just their second away win of a wretched campaign with a 2-1 victory in Perth, giving interim coach Chris Greenacre his second triumph in four matches since taking over from Ricki Herbert.

The three points broke a spell of seven straight losses across the Tasman but they weren't enough to lift the Phoenix from last place on the ladder and they now need a result when they host Melbourne Victory to conclude the season.

The fact the Phoenix are fighting just to avoid the bottom spot has something to do with last night's goalscorers. Both Paul Ifill and Stein Huysegems were expected to form a deadly attack with Jeremy Brockie, but the latter was the only one to live up to the promise.

Ifill's form has been patchy and he even apologised to Herbert when the coach resigned, but he opened the scoring with his first effort from open play all season.

Huysegems, a Belgian international signed in the off-season, has also struggled and his clinching header was his first goal since October.

Brockie, level atop the golden boot standings with 15 strikes, failed to score last night but he laid on both goals to continue a fine run of form heading into the All Whites' World Cup qualifier on Friday.

Another All White in fine touch was goalkeeper Glen Moss, with the first half at times playing like a running duel between Moss and the Perth attack - a battle in which Moss prospered.

After a lively opening half hour the Phoenix found themselves in front and, although Ifill took the plaudits, Moss was equally responsible for the scoreline.

Moments after Moss' fine diving save kept out a goal-bound effort from Matias Cordoba, Brockie got to the byline and shot at Danny Vukovic who could only deflect the ball into the path of Ifill to tap home.

There was still time in the half for Moss to make two more fine saves low to his left, the first from international teammate Shane Smeltz and the second from a fierce Liam Miller drive.

Perth picked up where they left off after the break, with only a despairing challenge from Andrew Durante preventing Smeltz from a free shot at goal.

The Glory continued to knock on the door but the Phoenix defence dealt with the threat without too many problems, before a rare Wellington foray into the Perth box produced a second goal. Brockie again played provider, with his inch-perfect cross from the left nodded into the far corner by Huysegems.

The Phoenix had their tails up and Ifill came close to clinching the points, but his curling effort was tapped around the post by Vukovic. And that save looked like it could prove pivotal when Ryo Nagai out-jumped Manny Muscat at the far post to nod in Steve McGarry's cross with 15 minutes left.

Appropriately, though, Moss produced another solid save in stoppage time to makes the points safe.

Perth Glory 1 (Nagai 75)
Wellington Phoenix 2 (Ifill 24, Huysegems 66)
HT: 0-1

- APNZ

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