Krishna strike seals Phoenix’s fourth straight pre-season win


Wellington Phoenix made it four straight pre-season victories as Roy Krishna’s second-half strike secured a 2-1 win over Central Coast Mariners in Nelson on Saturday.

Kosta Barbarouses scored from the spot in the 22nd minute to put Phoenix ahead, but the Mariners drew level through Connor Pain on the half hour.

Central Coast went down to 10 before the break when Jaques Faty was given a straight red for bringing down Krishna, who was through on goal.

The Fijian striker’s header early in the second half secured the eighth win in nine pre-season matches for Wellington.

With a number of Phoenix players expected to be selected in the All Whites team next week, Alex Rodriguez and Matthew Ridenton started in midfield, while new recruits Jacob Tratt and Adam Parkhouse began at the back.

On 20 minutes, a flowing Phoenix move found Barbarouses on the edge of the area. His cross struck the arm of Michael Neill and the referee pointed to the spot.

Wellington’s marquee man stepped up and slotted the penalty into the top of the net to put Phoenix 1-0 up.

Just before the half hour the Mariners had a good chance to equalize when a mix-up in midfield allowed Roy O’Donovan a one-on-one, but Moss stood tall in the box to deny him.

Phoenix’s lead wouldn’t last much longer however, as just a minute later Pain was slipped through and slotted his shot beyond the reach of Moss to make it 1-1.

Central Coast’s joy was short lived with Faty sent off for bringing down Krishna just outside the area, when the Fijian striker only had the goalkeeper to beat.

From the ensuing free kick Ivan Necevski pulled off a great save to deny Barbarouses with a header.

With the Mariners down to 10, Phoenix took advantage of the extra man in the second half as Krishna headed in from a Barbarouses cross to make it 2-1.

Wellington held on for the victory, but the disjointed performance, particularly against the 10 men frustrated Head Coach Ernie Merrick.

“I’m pleased with the result, but I always believe that the performance is more important in pre-season and I was disappointed with a few aspects of our game,” Merrick said.

“The passing from the midfield going forward lacked cohesion and we made too many errors.

“The Mariners played on the counter attack after going a man down and that forced us to change our game, which ended up throwing us off somewhat.

“The forward passing was not to the quality I expect and we were overrun in midfield.

“It’s something we will have to work on before the first game of the season as we will be missing key players to international duty.

“Having won eight of nine matches in pre-season is encouraging however and gives us confidence going in to our first game on 8 October against Melbourne City.”