Muscat earns reprieve

Wellington Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante reckons Manny Muscat has earned an exemption from taunts about his lack of goal-scoring ability after grabbing the winner in the 1-0 win over Newcastle on Friday night.

Wellington Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante reckons Manny Muscat has earned an exemption from taunts about his lack of goal-scoring ability after grabbing the winner in the 1-0 win over Newcastle on Friday night.

The plucky right-back got on the end of a nice Paul Ifill pass in the 58th minute of the match before standing up Jets defender Byun and letting fly with a pin-point left-foot strike that beat Newcastle goalkeeper Ben Kennedy all ends-up and flew into the far corner of the net.

It was a brilliant way for Muscat to register his first ever goal of his 84-game A-League career.

"We are rapt for Manny. We give him a lot of stick at training for his non-scoring ability but he is keeping everyone's mouths shut right now," a beaming Durante said after the match.

"He can say what he wants this week, when we do a shooting drill, we will let him off, he deserves it."

"He is a very unlikely hero, we give him a lot of stick but he got one today and that is what the team is about, heroes and people stepping up when we need someone to step up."

"It could have been a forward that scored but for a right-back to come forward and win it for us shows what we are about - anyone can score on any given day and everyone helps each other out."

Phoenix coach Ricky Herbert was equally pleased for the 27-year-old defender and said he had been one of the unsung heroes of Wellington's campaign this season.

"He has been outstanding," Herbert said of Muscat.

"I think he is a great screening midfield player and ideally I'd love to play him there but we haven't been able to this year."

"But I think he is the best right-back in the competition. He has every post a winner, he is a great guy and he has done a wonderful job."

Despite being on the wrong side of a 60-40 possession equation, the Phoenix out-played the Jets on their home turf with Muscat's winner giving the Wellington side two away wins in a row for the first time in the club's history.

"The boys are buzzing at the moment," said Durante.

"Two on the trot away from home, it is a club record. It has never happen before which is amazing to think but we are a really good group and everyone is happy at the moment. "

"I think it is a testament to the boys. We were very disappointed after losing at home to Perth but I think the reaction has been great," Herbert said before praising the owners of the club for allowing the side to spend the week in Australia after their 1-0 win over the Gold Coast last round.

"The owners have been in letting us stay away for the week and it set a platform for us to achieve something and we go home very happy."

"I think all year we have been good away from home even though the result don't indicate that."

The Jets had a few chances early but once the Phoenix found their rhythm and scored the goal the visitors seemed comfortable to absorb the Jets attack with Wellington goalkeeper Mark Paston rarely tested in the second half.

Dutchy (Jets coach Gary van Egmond) likes his team to move the ball around and drag people out of position but we didn't allow that," Durante said.

"We frustrated them and we caught them on the counter a few times and I thought it was a really good plan, and we executed it to perfection."

"We played differently tonight to how we played against the Gold Coast and we did it very well," Herbert added.

"The second half was very good. One-zip we go home very happy, six points and a clean sheet in both games."