A superb attacking performance and a first-half brace from Roy Krishna secured Wellington Phoenix a 2-0 win over Newcastle Jets at Westpac Stadium on Saturday night.
Krishna put Phoenix ahead with a simple finish in the 22nd minute after great lead-up play from Kosta Barbarouses, who had his shot saved by Jets goalkeeper Jack Duncan.
That duo combined again as Krishna sealed the 2-0 victory with an emphatic finish in the 41st minute.
Phoenix began the match full of spark and were in complete control of the contest from the kick-off.
On 12 minutes, a fine move between Gui Finkler and Krishna eventually found its way to Barbarouses on the edge of the area and he unleashed a shot that was saved by Jack Duncan in the Jets goal.
The fine passing continued and the pressure finally paid off in the 21st minute after a brilliant Barbarouses dribble and shot could only be parried by Duncan and Krishna was on hand to tap in the opener for Phoenix.
Just a few minutes later Krishna went down in the box under the challenge of Nigel Boogaard, but the referee waved away what appeared to be legitimate claims for penalty.
Wellington were relentless in attack and it was only an outstretched Duncan that prevented another dangerous moment in the opposition area.
Phoenix were combining superbly in the front third and creating havoc in the Jets backline. In the 41st minute Barbarouses latched on to a loose ball near the centre circle, sprinted forward and played it into the path of Krishna who hammered in his second of the night to make it 2-0 at the break.
It could have been more at the interval with Vince Lia almost marking his 200th appearance with a goal after his long-range strike went just wide.
It was more of the same in the second half with the Wellington midfield in full flow and their quick, incisive passing leading to a number of dangerous moments in the Newcastle area.
Right-back Jacob Tratt was a constant attacking threat out wide for Phoenix and it was from one of his runs deep in the opponent’s half that the hosts’ almost scored again, but the defender skewed his shot wide.
Before the final whistle Barbarouses created another excellent chance with a mazy dribble, but the striker just wasn’t able to finish it off.
In the end Krishna’s first-half goals proved enough to seal the 2-0 win for Phoenix.
Head Coach Ernie Merrick was delighted with his side’s performance in all areas of the pitch.
“I thought they were really up for it, the same as they were against Sydney and to get a backline that’s very steady and kept a clean sheet, that’s the platform for going forward. Once you’ve got that type of defence then you can attack more,” Merrick said.
“They played really well to the system that we wanted to play today. With the strikers that we have, if we supply the ball, then we get the goals and we probably should have had two or three actually.
“We wanted to press them in their back third, but you have to have very high energy to be able to do that and sustain it and it’s got to be everyone doing the job… and I thought we did it as a group really well.
“That’s the type of football I like to play and it’s exciting football as well.”
Wellington Phoenix 2-0 Newcastle Jets
Goal scorers: 21. Roy KRISHNA (21’, 41’)
Wellington Phoenix: 1. Glen MOSS, 2. Jacob TRATT, 7. Guilherme FINKLER (4. Roly BONEVACIA 81’), 8. Alex RODRIGUEZ, 9. Kosta BARBAROUSES (11. Hamish WATSON 90+2’), 10. Michael McGLINCHEY (14. Alex RUFER 90+4’), 13. Marco ROSSI, 16. Louis FENTON, 17. Vince LIA, 21. Roy KRISHNA, 22. Andrew DURANTE (c)
Unused substitutes: 20. Lewis ITALIANO (GK), 5. Ryan LOWRY
Newcastle Jets: 20. Jack DUNCAN (GK), 3. Jason HOFFMAN (9. Aleksandr KOKKO 69’), 4. Nigel BOOGAARD (c), 6. Steven UGARKOVIC (15. Andrew NABBOUT 72’), 7. Andrew HOOLE, 8. Mateo POLJAK, 10. Wayne BROWN, 13. Ivan VUJICA (23. Devante CLUT 88’), 16. Nick COWBURN, 19. Moten NORDSTRAND, 28. Johnny KOUTROUMBIS
Unused substitutes: 40. James FOGARTY (GK), 27. Caio DE GODOY