Phoenix stay calm

The Wellington Phoenix aren't getting carried away by their first win of the season and know there's plenty of hard work ahead as they strive to qualify for their first Hyundai A-League playoffs.

The Wellington Phoenix aren't getting carried away by their first win of the season and know there's plenty of hard work ahead as they strive to qualify for their first Hyundai A-League playoffs.

Criticised for their poor form through a winless first five matches, a frank meeting with owner Terry Serepisos inspired the Phoenix players into a 2-1 upset of one of the competition's favourites, Sydney FC, at Westpac Stadium on Sunday.

Knowing the season is still a marathon, not a sprint, relieved coach Ricki Herbert is guarding against his troops failing to build on what was an encouraging performance.

"We said prior to the Sydney game that we had 16 matches to make a difference in the league," Herbert said.

"It's important that we remain focused on the big picture. The guys naturally enjoyed the result and they should be proud of what they achieved, but Sunday was just one game and everyone knows there's still a lot of work to be done."

The result was achieved without a number of key players, such as captain Andrew Durante, goalkeeper Glen Moss and defender Jon McKain.

"There were opportunities for players. We were forced into some changes through injuries and illness but the players that were given the chance certainly didn't disappoint," Herbert continued.

"There was a lot of desire and commitment from the players against Sydney and that's what flows through the team.

"I think it's sent a clear message right throughout the squad that there's depth there and people can step up."

The trio's imminent return will bolster the side but it still doesn't get much any easier for Herbert's men as they now face four away games from their next five, including Monday's trip to Newcastle to take on the Jets.

The Jets, who are one place above the Phoenix in sixth place, have had only one win themselves this season - a 1-0 away win over the Queensland Roar two weeks ago.

That's followed by trips to Central Coast, Sydney and Perth which will go a long way to deciding whether the Phoenix are still in contention through the summer months.

Those challenges don't go away and we know what we've got in front of us," Herbert said.

"The most important thing is to get back on the training pitch and keep working hard. We've got 15 games to go and it's very much step by step at this stage."