Ernie Merrick’s eye for a good player was emphasised yet again on Saturday night when striker Blake Powell came off the bench to score the 78th minute winning goal in an exhilarating 3-2 win over Brisbane Roar at Westpac Stadium.
The win also emphasised the coach’s want-to-win attitude as he threw on another attacking player after Powell had scored to put the home side in front.
On a windless cool night the two teams provided a great advert for the Hyundai A-League with Roar, who went into the game with two wins from two under their belt, showing just as much attacking intent as the Phoenix.
The Phoenix made the running from the first whistle but the home fans were stunned 26 minutes in when Dimitri Petratos gave the visitors the lead with a sweet left-foot shot.
Undaunted, the Phoenix went back on the attack and Michael McGlinchey got them back on terms with as good a free-kick as you would wish to see.
McGlinchey spends lots of time practising free kicks once training has ended and he got his reward from all of 25 metres with a lovely shot into the top corner of Jamie Young’s net.
The second half began at the same break-neck speed as the first had been played and within four minutes Jeffery Sarpong, who is starting to show his class, and Roy Krishna combined in a sweet move that Krishna ended with a clinical finish to give his team the lead.
Some hesitant Phoenix defending allowed former player Jade North to equalise on the hour mark before substitute Blake entered the game and was on the spot to knock in an inch-perfect cross from Tom Doyle, who had a fine game, from close range.
Merrick was delighted with the result and the entertainment the teams provided.
“It was a great game that I’m sure television viewers would have enjoyed and those in the stadium would have loved it even more,” Merrick said.
“To Roar’s credit they played an open game and it made for an exciting spectacle.
“I thought their first goal was against the run of play because I thought we had them on toast.
“We had so many players keen to score a goal and Jeffrey Sarpong showed what he can do. All of a sudden you were thinking ‘wow this boy can play’.
“The way he set up the second goal for Roy Krishna was fantastic, drawing the defender and giving Roy a perfectly-weighted pass.
“All round it was a terrific performance and a good result.”
At a glance:
Phoenix 3 – 2 Roar: Saturday 24 October, 2015, 7.15pm at Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Hyundai A-League Round 3
Half time: 1-1
Wellington Phoenix: McGlinchey (35′), Krishna (49′), Powell (78′)
Brisbane Roar: Petratos (26′), North (60′)