Phoenix enter top six, condemn Mariners to worst ever Hyundai A-League start

Wellington Phoenix stormed into the Hyundai A-League top six after defeating a sorry Central Coast Mariners side 2-0 in Saturday’s clash at Westpac Stadium.

Louis Fenton’s early tap in and a composed finish by Sarpreet Singh established a commanding two-goal buffer for Mark Rudan’s side before half time.

It’s the first time the New Zealand outfit has tallied consecutive Hyundai A-League victories since April 2017.

Should the remaining Round 8 results go their way, Phoenix could retain their position in the top six for the first time since Round 16 of the 2016/17 campaign.

In contrast, aspirations of finals football seem a way off yet for the Mariners, who slumped to their sixth loss of the season,  and have been consigned to the Hyundai A-League’s poorest ever start after eight rounds.

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Central Coast arrived in the New Zealand capital with the competition’s leakiest defence and, shortly after Jordan Murray’s wayward effort early on, they were breached for the 17th time this season.

Goalkeeper Adam Pearce had made a good save to parry Mandi’s deflected effort, but Fenton was on hand to bury the rebound.

Roy Krishna came close to doubling the advantage midway through the half. Having robbed Kalifa Cisse in midfield, the Phoenix sprung forward and released the Wellington marksman into the clear, but Krishna swept his effort wide under pressure from recovering Mariners defenders.

The visitors’ blushes were spared further by the offside flag when Steven Taylor’s crisp volleyed finish was called back, but Phoenix underlined their dominance when Krishna teed up Singh on the stroke of the interval.

Only some crucial last-ditch defending from the Mariners halted Phoenix’s charge in the second half, as efforts from Krishna and Nathan Burns were repelled.