Jason Pine is Radio Sport's football commentator

Football: Phoenix need to show attacking prowess

Kosta Barbarouses missed the Phoenix opener. Photo / Photosport
Kosta Barbarouses missed the Phoenix opener. Photo / Photosport

In football, goals pay the rent.

The Wellington Phoenix escaped eviction from the A-League earlier this year when their licence was extended, but they must continue to be worthy tenants, starting with goalscoring. After two full rounds of the 2016/17 season, the Phoenix are the only side not to find the back of the net.

Having assembled what is widely regarded as the most potent attacking roster in the club's 10-year history, the lack of goals is as puzzling as it is frustrating.

The arrival from Melbourne Victory of Kosta Barbarouses and Gui Finkler had fans salivating at the possibility of that pair combining with Roy Krishna, Roly Bonevacia and Michael McGlinchey to lay siege to opposition defences.

Their combination has had a stuttering start; Barbarouses and McGlinchey missed the first game through All Whites duty and only played in Perth on Sunday after an arduous 30-hour journey from Washington DC.

McGlinchey, in particular, showed the effects of two full games in five days for New Zealand and was withdrawn after less than an hour.

Therefore, the predicted goal-rush hasn't happened yet. On opening weekend, the Phoenix managed just one shot on target against Melbourne City while Perth goalkeeper Liam Reddy was largely untested on Sunday, apart from one point-blank header from Krishna which he somehow managed to keep out.

This week, coach Ernie Merrick finally has a fully rested playing squad to unleash.

"I'll have the full team available this week, at home, with no flights," he said. "Having the best players and having the right preparation in the week prior to the match - this is the first time we've been able to do that this season. The boys are really up for it in a big way and I can't ask for anything else."

In stark contrast to their own goalscoring issues, the Phoenix welcome the A-League's freest scorers to Westpac Stadium tomorrow night. Sydney FC have hit the ground running, scoring eight times in their opening two games with back-to-back 4-0 routs of the Western Sydney Wanderers and Central Coast Mariners.

It's certainly not panic stations for the Phoenix after just two games. There are still 75 points to play for before the top six are found and defending champions Adelaide United and pre-season favourites Melbourne Victory have endured similar struggles, each collecting just a point from their opening two matches.

Teams don't make - or miss - the A-League playoffs through their performances in October. But they can lay foundations. The Phoenix are traditionally slow starters, but never before have they remained without a point after two games.

It's time to get cracking. The Phoenix season starts tomorrow night against Sydney FC.

- NZ Herald

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