Phoenix fire past Fury

Eugene Dadi continued his dream start at the Wellington Phoenix with his third goal in two matches as they defeated North Queensland Fury 3-0 to cement their place in the Hyundai A-League top six.

Eugene Dadi continued his dream start at the Wellington Phoenix with his third goal in two matches as they defeated North Queensland Fury 3-0 to cement their place in the Hyundai A-League top six.

Dadi headed home early in the second half of a match played in awful conditions before Paul Ifill fired home his ninth of the season.

A Jon McKain header in the 90th minute sealed the win to extend the Phoenix's unbeaten run at Westpac Stadium to 16 matches.

But Dadi was forced from the field with just under 30 minutes to play after an accidental head clash with Matthew Smith which required 15 stitches to a gash just under his eyebrow, although he was not concussed.

Smith also required treatment on the sidelines to a cut but returned to the field.

The howling wind and rain ruined any chance of a decent spectacle as the flight and pace of the ball was difficult to judge and players skidded on the turf making for a very scrappy encounter.

The nature of the match did not unduly concern Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert, who was delighted to take the three points which lifted his team to fourth on the ladder.

"Whilst the (first) 45 (minutes) is nowhere where we need it to be, I think we're a side that's getting results now and we can graft it out and we can score goals," he said.

"It felt like it (the wind) was strong one way and it would change and it was hard to play and get the ball down and do things."

"The most important thing tonight was to get three points. We got three good goals and now we keep moving forward."

It was the Fury, battling into the wind, who had by far the better start to the match.

North Queensland - with several changes in its starting line-up, including a first start for Jimmy Downey following his move from Perth during the week - could have been 2-0 up inside the opening 10 minutes had Robbie Fowler and Dyron Daal finished better.

Fowler's chance came in the third minute after an error by McKain but from the left of goal the former Liverpool man could only find the side netting.

Four minutes later and Daal beat the offside trap and from an almost identical position to Fowler saw Liam Reddy get a hand to his goal-bound shot before Tony Lochhead cleared it behind.

Reddy, who has conceded just two goals in four matches for the Phoenix, was the busier of the two goalkeepers for much of the first half as the Fury pushed hard for the crucial opening goal.

Jeremy Brockie, looking to impress New Zealand boss Herbert, was industrious down the left, while Daal was a constant menace whether firing in crosses or looking to take on the defence himself.

In the 16th minute Fowler rose to get on the end of a Daal cross but could only head it straight at the keeper.

Then, having soaked up the pressure, the Phoenix finally broke into the Fury's half and Leo Bertos forced a couple of saves from Justin Pasfield.

Tempers were getting a little frayed in the tough conditions and Manny Muscat, for a challenge on Brockie, and Fowler, for dissent, both found themselves booked by referee Peter Green.

The final 15 minutes of the half produced only a couple of chances with desperate defence by McKain and Lochhead denying Daal and Rostyn Griffiths - playing at the back in the absence of the ill Robbie Middleby - doing enough to force Ifill to scuff his shot wide.

The Phoenix - playing towards their boisterous fans - came out firing after the break and there were barely two minutes on the clock when Dadi finally broke the deadlock.

Having won a corner, Bertos fired the ball into the box, the big striker rose above the defence and headed into the top left-hand corner.

Real chances were few and far between in the period immediately after the goal, although Bertos and Fowler both had shots on target, which were comfortably dealt with by Pasfield and Reddy.

Tim Brown was also booked for a challenge on the returning Ufuk Talay, who was substituted for Fred Agius a few minutes later.

Dadi then went off injured in the 75th minute before only a furious goalmouth scramble by the Phoenix prevented a Fury equaliser.

Three minutes later Ifill was rifling a shot low into the bottom left-hand corner to make it 2-0 to the home side.

The vital three points were made certain when a well-judged cross into the box from Troy Hearfield found a leaping McKain, who glanced the ball home for his first ever goal for the Phoenix.

Fury coach Ian Ferguson was left to lament his side's defensive lapses at the set-piece.

"I was reasonably happy with the first half. I thought we competed reasonably well. For 35 minutes of the game we controlled it in bits," said the Scotsman.

"The biggest disappointment for me again - and I keep saying it to the boys - is that we can't defend set pieces. We lost two goals again from set pieces and it hurts us. It kills us."