Phoenix deliver again

Wellington Phoenix is back in the top six after a 3-0 win over Newcastle Jets in Wellington on Wednesday night.

Wellington Phoenix is back in the top six after a 3-0 win over Newcastle Jets in Wellington on Wednesday night.

Following a disappointing outing against Sydney last Sunday the Phoenix bounced back well to extend its unbeaten home run to 12 games with another coming up at Westpac Stadium against Perth Glory on Sunday.

Ricki Herbert made two changes to his starting line-up from last weekend-s 3-1 loss to Sydney.

Goalkeeper Mark Paston failed a fitness test on his injured hip handing Reece Crowther his first start at home and bringing assistant coach Jonathan Gould on to the bench.

Sunday-s goal scorer Costa Barbarouses was brought in to join Chris Greenacre up front with Paul Ifill moved out wide in place of Leo Bertos who was given a spell on the bench.

The Jets were without the suspended Adam D-Apuzzo and Fabio Vignaroli which saw Jobe Wheelhouse and Kaz Patafta promoted to the starting XI.

Barbarouses had a lively game in his first start of the season, his speed causing the Jets defence all sorts of problems, and he had a hand in two of the three goals.

It was his strike that Jets keeper Ben Kennedy fumbled which allowed Tim Brown to pounce for the opener, then the teenager-s neat back heel to set up Greenacre for the team-s second goal was all class.

Ifill rounded off another good personal performance with Wellington-s third in stoppage time.

Herbert was delighted to see his side get its top-six hopes back on track.

"It was fantastic tonight. We wanted to win and turn it straight round and we did. I thought it was pretty comprehensive."

"There were a few tired legs at the end … but I-m very pleased."

Kennedy was the busier of the two keepers in the first 20 minutes as the Phoenix pressed hard for the opening goal.

Greenacre should have done better when he was played in by Ifill in the third minute then Andrew Durante headed a floating ball into the box from Daniel just over the crossbar.

Jets defender Nikolai Topor-Stanley conceded a free-kick for pulling back a charging Barbarouses on 15 minutes but the Phoenix striker then saw his glancing header from Daniel-s free-kick fly straight to Kennedy.

Topor-Stanley was left breathing a sigh of relief in the 18th minute when his headed clearance flew just over his own crossbar before Ifill saw another long-range effort go just wide.

Then having been unable to convert any of their chances the Phoenix players and fans- nerves were left jangling when Crowther fumbled a shot from Jin-Hyung Song which rebounded into the path of Labinot Haliti but the keeper reacted quickly to smother the ball.

Then in the 27th minute Brown stole in for a poacher-s goal to put Wellington 1-0 up.

Vince Lia-s long-range strike was tipped behind and from the resulting corner Kennedy was unable to keep hold of Barbarouses- well-hit strike and Brown pounced to slot home the rebound.

That seemed to spark the Jets who enjoyed their best period of the half but could find no way past the impressive Durante and Ben Sigmund.

Crowther, who appeared to grow in confidence as the game wore on, produced a smart save to keep out a Michael Bridges header from a Kaz Patafta free-kick, although the flag was up for offside.

Barbarouses- pace created yet another opportunity for the Phoenix just a minute later when the teenager broke clear of his marker, picked out Ifill to his right who then threaded the ball into the box only for the young striker to see his shot parried over by Kennedy.

Some more staunch defending from Durante and Sigmund and another good save from Crowther, this time keeping out a Patafta shot, in the closing minutes of the first half ensured the Phoenix kept a clean sheet going into the break.

The home side doubled its lead 10 minutes into the second spell thanks to a bit of Barbarouses magic.

Ifill fired the cross in from the left, the young striker back heeled it to Greenacre who slotted it low past a diving Kennedy.

Chances were limited for either side until the Phoenix won a penalty in the 83rd minute when Brown was brought down by Topor-Stanley.

But for the second match in a row Wellington could not convert from the spot with Kennedy diving to his right to deny Greenacre-s low drive.

Ifill though delivered the perfect finish when he stood up a couple of defenders then bundled the ball in the back of the net.

Jets coach Branko Culina was bitterly disappointed with his side-s performance.

"We didn't expect that. We thought we were a little bit more advanced than that but unfortunately we had to make more changes than we would have liked to the starting XI.

When you lose three guys that have been pretty consistent … we probably missed them. But having said that, the players that came in had an opportunity.

"Overall it was disappointing and we didn-t take our chances and we dropped our heads and that-s the real concern."