Wellington boss Ernie Merrick believes Blake Powell is benefitting from regular football after his four goals dismantled the Wanderers on Sunday.
Powell joined illustrious company as just the fifth player [after Besart Berisha, Shane Smeltz, Archie Thompson and Alessandro Del Piero] to score four or more goals in a match in the Hyundai A-League as Phoenix prevailed 5-2 at Wanderland.
It included a 33-minute first-half hat-trick as Wellington snapped a nine-game winless run and breathed new life into the fading finals hopes.
“He’s improving every week he plays and at training he’s very dedicated and does a lot of work with goal-scoring in extra sessions with [assistant coach] Chris Greenacre,” Merrick said of Powell post-match.
“It’s just great to see him do so well. I think his family was here as well so we’re going to fly his family around the country from now on.
“He’s getting more and more confidence because he’s getting more and more game time,” the Scotsman added.
“He was at Sydney FC and when you’re at a big club it’s very hard to give inexperienced players a run but when you give them an extended run you sometimes get a real surprise.”
Some of Powell’s finishing was out of the top draw and displayed all the skills.
His first header was exceptional, while his left-foot volley and right-footed lob demonstrated his undoubted potential in front of goal.
But Phoenix didn’t have a bad player across the pitch. While delighted with the result and performance, Merrick did his best to play things down.
“It’s just one win in nine or 10 games. Let’s not get carried away,” he said.
“It was a terrific win and we’ll enjoy it but we have to produce good quality football in front of goals every week.
“We knew at home Wanderers would come at us and we love an open game,” Merrick added.
“We know they take some risks because both fullbacks go [forward] at the same time so we had two strikers just wide of their centre backs who were going to cash in on that on the rebound if we won the ball and that’s exactly what happened.”
Wellington remains in ninth place on the A-League ladder but will leapfrog the Jets into eighth if they win when the two teams meet at Hunter Stadium next Saturday.