Phoenix not missing Smeltz

The fact that Shane Smeltz has scored more goals this season than his former club Wellington has managed collectively is not something that is weighing on Phoenix boss Ricki Herbert's mind.

The fact that Shane Smeltz has scored more goals this season than his former club Wellington has managed collectively is not something that is weighing on Phoenix boss Ricki Herbert's mind.

In fact, the Phoenix believe they are a more well-rounded side without former fan favourite Smeltz, who left at the end of the 2008/09 season to join expansion club Gold Coast United.

Smeltz has been in scintillating form, scoring nine goals in six appearances as Gold Coast sits pretty on top of the Hyundai A-League ladder with four victories.

Contrast that with the Phoenix, who are second from bottom with only a solitary win under their belts and have two less goals to their name than Smeltz alone.

But that statistic isn't keeping Herbert up at night.

When asked if newly-signed strikers Paul Ifill and Chris Greenacre had proven to be worthy replacements, Herbert said: "Look, I think by a long way."

"We've got good, prolific goal scorers that are doing an excellent job for us. The chances are coming and if we keep playing that way, the chances will come."

"I think we're not far away from giving someone a decent tally."

Both Greenacre and Ifill, veterans of the English professional scene, have found the back of the net twice for the Phoenix.

While those numbers don't match up to Smeltz's heroics, the Phoenix feel they are a stronger unit in his absence. Rather than hoisting the ball up front and hoping Smeltz does the rest, Wellington now has threats right across the park.

"We're a much better team than we were last year," Phoenix captain Andrew Durante said.

"We're a lot more balanced and we've got great leaders in Paul Ifill and Chris Greenacre."

"We've got quality all over the park this year and we've got a lot of belief as well that we can come to other home grounds and not just play for draws and really go at them."

That belief meant there was a sour taste in the mouth in the wake of Sunday's 1-all draw in Melbourne - a venue where taking a point had previously been viewed as a positive result.

"We're a little disappointed we didn't get three points but it just shows the team we are this year," Durante said.

"We're not happy just to get draws. We want to come and get points and start climbing the ladder."

The Phoenix were widely tipped to claim the A-League wooden spoon this season and have yet to provide a compelling case to their doubters that it will not become a reality.

However, they are targeting two consecutive home matches - against North Queensland and Central Coast - as a kick-start towards securing the club's first trip to the finals.

"Our guys are very clear we want to be a top-six side this year and go through to the finals," Herbert said.

"I don' think that's setting the bar high, it's just the reality of the competition we're in and these guys need to accept that and deal with it."