A three-goal burst in five magical first-half minutes laid the foundation for the Wellington Phoenix’ 3-1 win over Sydney FC in Wollongong on Friday night.
The win finished the team’s Sinopec pre-season week in Sydney on a high note and coach Ernie Merrick boarded the bus for the trip back to Sydney with a satisfied smile on his face.
“That’s 11 goals in three games on the trip,” Merrick said.
“While that is satisfying, just as important is the fact that we are getting closer to having a fully fit squad.
“The only two to miss out tonight were Jeffrey Sarpong and Glen Moss.
“We had three particularly good games, two of very high quality, and we scored six goals against A-League clubs which was good.
“At the back Vince Lia did a very good job along with Ben Sigmund and Andrew Durante.
“Manny Muscat on one side and Louis Fenton on the other also did well and that allowed Roly (Bonevacia) and Albert (Riera) to get forward and set up chances.”
While happy with the result and performance Merrick isn’t getting carried away.
“It is still a pre-season game,” he said.
“Pre-season is important for results and performance and tonight I was looking at the performance.
“It was good, especially in the first half, but we tired a bit in the second half because we don’t have the depth of squad that Sydney have.
“They were able to put on experienced, fresh players so we were under the pump at times in the second half.
“We conceded one but overall it was a fine effort from the boys and we now have three weeks to fine tune things.”
The game began at a cracking pace and Phoenix keeper Lewis Italiano made a superb save low down in only the second minute, while his counterpart in the Sydney goal, Vedran Janjetovic, did well to save from Michael McGlinchey.
With the Phoenix moving the ball quickly and Sydney playing a high defensive line there was always the chance that the Wellington side would create chances.
In the 32nd minute the visitors hit the lead with Roy Krishna set free behind the Sydney defence thanks to a quick free kick and the Fijian striker made no mistake,
Four minutes later Blake Powell raced away, found himself one-on-one with the keeper and slotted home a left foot shot.
With Sydney looking shell-shocked Powell rocked them further by beating the offside trap and adding a third.
It wasn’t till the 66th minute that Sydney got on the score sheet with Filip Holosko finding the net after a Phoenix defensive slip gave him the opportunity.
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