There was no happy return for interim coach, Chris Greenacre, as his Wellington Phoenix side were beaten 4-1 by Western Sydney Wanderers at Spotless Stadium on Saturday night.
In his third spell in the coaching position, Greenacre put the smiles back on the faces of his players in training this week after a tough spell during the tenure of coach Darije Kalezić.
He told his players to go out and start enjoying themselves again.
For 45 minutes they looked a different team to what their long-suffering fans had seen so far this season and they fully deserved to go in level at 1-1 at halftime after having their fair share of the ball.
They fell behind in the 39th minute when Wanderers skipper Mark Bridge was put through by a superb ball from Josh Risdon and when fullback Scott Galloway went to ground, Bridge slipped the ball across goal for Brendon Santalab to tap into an empty net.
Rather than feel sorry for themselves, the Phoenix bounced straight back with a swift attack in which Nathan Burns had a shot blocked and Roy Krishna had an effort saved, before the fast-maturing Sarpreet Singh blasted the ball into the top of the net.
In first half injury time, Krishna shaved the outside of a post and Greenacre must have looked forward to seeing more of the same in the second spell.
Instead, he could only watch in anguish as the Phoenix were undone at two set pieces as they have been so many times this season.
In the 67th minute Brendon Hamill climbed above the defence at a corner to put the home side 2-1 up and 10 minutes later, the game was over for the Phoenix when a corner was flicked on by Bridge to Hamill who sidefooted into the net.
In the final minute the Phoenix’ misery was complete when goalkeeper Tando Velaphi had a rush of blood to the head and raced out of his penalty area only for Christopher Oikonomidis to go past him and sweep the ball into an empty net.
It wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Wellington side. The performances of youngsters Sarpreet Singh and Liberato Cacace showed they have some real talent coming through.
On the debit side, they need more from the likes of Roy Krishna and Nathan Burns, who was a shadow of the player he was during his previous spell with the Phoenix.