Wellington Phoenix home form continued from where it left off when they beat Newcastle Jets 2-0 at Westpac Stadium on Sunday, despite finishing the game with nine men.
Much to the dismay of coach Ricki Herbert the Phoenix had Nicky Ward shown a straight red card in the 83rd minute by Australian referee Matt Gillett for “denying an obvious goal scoring opportunity”, and two minutes into stoppage time the official showed Tim Brown a second yellow for “time wasting” when he left the ball for Manny Muscat at a throw in.
Herbert described the dismissals as “bizarre” and said they didn-t help his already injury hit squad with a tough trip to Perth coming up this week.
The dismissals took the gloss off a solid, attacking performance by the Phoenix and they could have won by a bigger margin.
Such was the control the Phoenix had on the game debutant goalkeeper Tony Warner had only one save to make throughout the 90 minutes.
After a slow start, the Phoenix began to play with confidence and it was no
more than they deserved when Tim Brown gave them the lead in the 19th minute with a lovely header from a Ward cross.
By then the Phoenix injury woes had been added to with star striker Paul Ifill substituted in the 11th minute with a groin strain.
Ifill-s replacement, Daniel, quickly settled into his role and showed some nice touches before scoring the Phoenix second goal in the 61st minute, guiding home a low cross from Tony Lochhead.
Herbert described his side-s performance as one of the best he had seen, especially given the disrupted lead up to the season, as well as the number of injuries sustained in the last few weeks.