Three in a row for Phoenix

The Wellington Phoenix completed a hat-trick of victories for the first time in their short history as they overcame the Melbourne Victory 2-1 in their Hyundai A-League clash on Friday night.

The Wellington Phoenix completed a hat-trick of victories for the first time in their short history as they overcame the Melbourne Victory 2-1 in their Hyundai A-League clash on Friday night.

Danny Allsopp gave Melbourne the lead after 22 minutes, but Tim Brown equalised just a minute later, before Shane Smeltz fired home the winner in the second half.

They say good things come in threes, and this was no exception as the Phoenix did themselves a service in their pursuit of a top four placing in the league.

The home side started the match full of confidence, and played with the air of a team that is in hot form.

However, Melbourne's recent run of results has been similar, and they matched the home side for intensity and effort.

Both sides were content to keep possession in the early phases, as they tested and probed each other's defences.

It was Melbourne who was the first to threaten goal, with a dipping, swerving Tommy Pondeljak shot from 20 yards which Phoenix 'keeper Mark Paston had to scramble away from his near post on 19 minutes.

Melbourne was buoyed by the opportunity, and used the territorial advantage to further test Paston.

A powerful header from Allsopp was parried away with a fantastic reaction save, with Paston's reactions again coming to the fore from the resulting corner - this time from a Kevin Muscat strike.

However, the Victory made it third time lucky as Ney Fabiano's header from the corner coming back off the post, allowing Allsopp to nip in and pounce on the rebound to open the scoring in the 22nd minute.

The Phoenix picked themselves straight back up, and showed their newly found self belief by equalising through Brown just a minute later.

A Leo Bertos free kick was partially cleared by Muscat, allowing Brown to show excellent technique in volleying the loose ball.

His 18-yard strike thundered off the turf past Victory stopper Michael Theoklitos to level the scores at 1-1 on 23 minutes.

Melbourne was stunned by the quick reply, and a lapse in concentration from Pondeljak almost cost them another goal.

The midfielder hit a dreadful backpass that Smeltz anticipated as he broke free from the Victory defence.

Unfortunately for the home side, he butchered the opportunity by trying to cut back inside the recovering run of Muscat instead of pursuing the opportunity.

The scores remained at 1-1 at the break, and it was the Phoenix who began the second period the brightest.

Following several forays into Victory territory, they carved out a great opportunity on 54 minutes.

Bertos made a probing run to the byline and hit a cross-come-shot that Theoklitos could only parry, but Tony Lochead's fierce drive sailed wide of the target.

The home side capitalised on their momentum four minutes later, as Smeltz scored arguably the best goal of his Phoenix career with a rasping 20-yard drive that flew into Theoklitos' top left corner.

Wellington's top goalscorer turned Michael Thwaite inside out with a flawless change of direction following an excellent ball from Brazilian import Fred to give his side the ascendancy on 58 minutes.

Melbourne was spurred into action, and made several incisive breaks forward over the subsequent 15 minutes.

Phoenix 'skipper Andrew Durante, who was back in the side for the suspended Karl Dodd, blunted several of the Victory's chances and was outstanding as he marked his 50th A-League appearance.

Smeltz came close to doubling his tally on 73 minutes, with an opportunity that resembled an action replay of his first strike.

The All White striker made a superb darting run with the ball, but this time blazed his shot over the bar from 20 yards.

Melbourne had their best opportunity of the second period on 76 minutes, as substitute Carlos Hernandez came on the park and made an instant impression.

The Costa Rican playmaker carved out some space for Archie Thompson, who produced a neat cut-back but failed to capitalise as he hit his shot straight into the arms of Paston.

The Phoenix should have killed the game off in the 81st minute, with Fred's intelligent hustling of Kevin Muscat creating a superb opportunity after he nicked the ball just inside the Victory half.

The Brazilian surged forward and drew two defenders before slipping a beautiful ball across the Victory goalmouth.

Leo Bertos was on hand but somehow managed to miss the ball with no-one but Theoklitos in his way.

Melbourne threw themselves forward during the final minutes, but was unable to find a way through a resolute and well-organised Phoenix defensive line.

The home side claimed a deserved win after dominating the majority of the second period, in what was a thoroughly entertaining and engrossing encounter.

In victory, the home side completed their best ever run of consecutive wins and have given their top four aspirations a much needed shot in the arm.

Wellington Phoenix 2 (Brown 22', Smeltz 58') Melbourne Victory 1 (Allsopp 21') @ Westpac Stadium. Crowd: 7953.