Gold Coast trump Phoenix
A Bruce Djite brace set up Gold Coast’s 3-1 win over Wellington and launched United to outright second on the Hyundai A-League table after the Friday night match at Skilled Park.
A Bruce Djite brace set up Gold Coast-s 3-1 win over Wellington and launched United to outright second on the Hyundai A-League table after the Friday night match at Skilled Park.
Djite scored one goal against Sydney last weekend but was in full effect this time around with goals in the sixth and 70th minutes to stamp his return to the A-League.
He might have failed to register a goal in his first three games since transferring to United from Turkey, but Djite now has three in his past two matches.
With Djite finding his feet United coach Miron Bleiberg is starting to enjoy life post-Shane Smeltz.
“No more will we call him Bruce,” Bleiberg said of his new target up front.
“Call him Shane Djite. Don-t get me wrong, Shane is a favourite son of mine but when you consider that Bruce is playing better defence we have to be very happy with him.”
Another of Bleiberg-s favourites, 20-year-old substitute James Brown, came on midway through the second-half and rubber-stamped United-s most emphatic win of the season when he headed in a Djite tap on in the 82nd minute.
The result brings to an end Wellington-s four-match unbeaten run over the second-year club and means United have now beaten every club they have faced since entering the competition.
For Phoenix the loss continues a barren run of away form; while they sit in fifth place on 11 competition points they have managed just a single point away from their Westpac Stadium base.
English-born Barbadian striker Paul Ifill slotted home from the penalty spot for Phoenix in the ninth minute but that was far from enough against a surging United outfit.
Tahj Minniecon - just returned from Vietnam with the Olyroos - helped Djite to his first, beating two defenders and giving his attacking target time and space at the top of the box.
It was one touch, spin around Jade North and strike for Djite, who slammed the ball into the back of the net for an early lead.
But the celebration was short-lived. Phoenix striker Chris Greenacre looked to have scored on a Ifill cross only to be ruled offside but when United defender Kristian Rees had a brain-snap and handballed in the box, Wellington had their chance to make amends.
Ifill stepped up to take the penalty and drilled low past ‘keeper Glen Moss to erase the advantage with his fourth goal in eight matches this season.
Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert lamented the tough no-goal call but conceded it wouldn-t have changed the outcome.
“We had that goal disallowed which was a goal - I think that is clear now,” he said.
“But we just aren-t putting 90 minutes together away from home.”
It wasn-t until the 35th minute that United got their next good chance when Culina found Minniecon at the top of the box. But the 21-year-old-s strike didn-t have the same venom as Djite-s did earlier and was cleaned up by Andrew Durante.
Starting to pierce holes in the Phoenix, United should have gone ahead when Thwaite put a lovely ball through for a streaking Culina on the left wing. With Djite storming down the centre of the pitch the captain only had to put the ball in front of him but the cross was just off-target and forced Djite to mistime his shot way over the top.
Djite struck for his second in the 70th minute with a sweetly timed back-heel from point blank range and Brown wrapped it up shortly after.
Gold Coast United: 3 (Djite 6- 70-, Brown 82-) Wellington Phoenix: 1 (Ifill 9)