GOALS are coming for the Wellington Phoenix but goals against are causing headaches, says defender Jade North.
After copping a 4-1 beating at home at the hands of Brisbane Roar, the Phoenix bounced back with aplomb in Perth last weekend to grab their first three-point haul on the road this season with a 1-0 win against Perth Glory.
North, named earlier in the week in the Socceroos squad to take on Egypt in Cairo on November 17, said the win in Perth was extremely gratifying for the Phoenix after their 24-game unbeaten run at Westpac Stadium was snapped by league-leaders Brisbane.
Most pleasing was the clean sheet the Phoenix were able to keep in the West Australian capital.
“To have a clean sheet was great, I was pretty happy with the defensive effort from the boys,” said North. “We-ve leaked too many goals previously (22 in 13 matches) – it-s ridiculous how many we-ve conceded.
“We-ve just copped silly goals, that-s what-s killed us. We-ve been scoring enough (16) but conceding soft goals just isn-t good enough.”
The Phoenix have the chance to repeat the solid defensive effort shown against the Glory when they take on the high-flying Central Coast Mariners at Westpac Stadium in Wellington on Saturday night.
On the hosts- side is a good record against the Mariners, particularly at home. The Mariners, beaten 2-0 by the Phoenix in week three at Westpac Stadium, have not bettered the Wellingtonians at their home fortress in more than three years, scoring their one and only win in the New Zealand capital in their first ever visit in 2007.
The Phoenix have begun to settle on a regular starting XI, although North has been pushed out to right back rather than playing at his preferred centre back position. He admitted it had taken time to get used to the positional switch, though coach Ricki Herbert was effusive in his praise of North-s performance against the Glory.
“I felt a bit sluggish to start off with (against Perth) because of all the travel but I was able to gradually build into the game. Obviously at right back I haven-t played a lot of football there and the fitness levels are a little more demanding than at central defender.
“I-m just happy to play wherever and do a job wherever I-ve got to do a job for the team.”
North is expecting a typically no-nonsense Mariners side to line up against the Phoenix on Saturday night.
“Same as always – very hard-working and well coached. They-ve shown they can score goals, putting five past Perth in Sydney a couple of weeks back, and they-re sitting near the top now.
“Whenever I-ve played against the Central Coast you-ve always had to be switched on and making sure you-re doing your job. On Saturday night it-ll be case of winning the battle first and getting over the top of them.
“They-ve always had that hard-working mentality and that-s something we-ve got to match. If we don-t match it then we-ll be in for a tough time.”