A three-goal burst in five magical first-half minutes laid the foundation for the Wellington Phoenix’ 3-1 win over Sydney FC in Wollongong on Friday night.
The game began at a cracking pace and Phoenix keeper Lewis Italiano made a superb save low down in only the second minute, while his counterpart in the Sydney goal, Vedran Janjetovic, did well to save from Michael McGlinchey.
With the Phoenix moving the ball quickly and Sydney playing a high defensive line there was always the chance that the Wellington side would create chances.
In the 32nd minute the visitors hit the lead with Roy Krishna set free behind the Sydney defence thanks to a quick free kick and the Fijian striker made no mistake,
Four minutes later Blake Powell raced away, found himself one-on-one with the keeper and slotted home a left foot shot.
With Sydney looking shell-shocked Powell rocked them further by beating the offside trap and adding a third.
It wasn’t till the 66th minute that Sydney got on the score sheet with Filip Holosko finding the net after a Phoenix defensive slip gave him the opportunity.
While happy with the result and performance Phoenic boss Ernie Merrick isn’t getting carried away.
“It is still a pre-season game,” he said.
“Pre-season is important for results and performance and tonight I was looking at the performance.
“It was good, especially in the first half, but we tired a bit in the second half because we don’t have the depth of squad that Sydney have.
“They were able to put on experienced, fresh players so we were under the pump at times in the second half. We conceded one but overall it was a fine effort from the boys and we now have three weeks to fine tune things.”
While disappointed with the result, Sky Blues coach Graham Arnold saw plenty of positives from his side.
“We controlled the first thirty minutes and could have easily had two or three goals but we had a bad 10 minutes where we switched off on a quick free kick and made a mistake which we got punished for, but those two goals we can fix easily,” he said.
“We won the second half and showed good character and had more chances where Vedran didn’t have to make a save. It was a much better performance than our last performance so we are building in the right direction.
“The most important thing is a lot of the boys got some more running in their legs as a few of them had only played around 45 minutes so far this pre-season and we’ve still got another three friendly games to go which will help.”