Goals pay the rent. Unfortunately the Phoenix are a couple of weeks behind.
It certainly isn’t through lack of chances. Creating them isn’t the problem – it’s finishing them that’s the issue.
As they did last week in Perth, the Phoenix created numerous opportunities against Melbourne Victory, particularly in the first half, but were unable to put the ball in the back of the net.
The danger when you don’t capitalise on the chances you fashion is that your opposition will ride its luck and bite back themselves.
That’s exactly what happened in this game.
It wasn’t hard to see why Melbourne Victory have been unable to score in their first three matches this season.
Tony Warner was completely untroubled until the time Archie Thompson put the visitors ahead just before half-time.
Before that, the body language of the Melbourne players told the story of a side growing increasingly frustrated by their inability to open up a stern Phoenix defence. The spring in Victory’s step once they scored the opening goal (breaking a seven-hour goal-less A-League drought) was plain to see.
The enormous pressure mounting on them in the first month of the season was finally released and they looked a far different side after the break.
Having said that, Phoenix were well in this game, and even when Ben Sigmund was sent off and the Victory went 2-0 up, they still competed well and threatened to grab a share of the points.
It was great to see Dani Sanchez on the score-sheet. His first four games in a Phoenix shirt have been promising and his unerring finish from the penalty arc will fill him with even more confidence.
It’s crucial that Sanchez continues to grow as an A-League player.
He has the potential to become the playmaker Phoenix have long searched for to give them an X-factor in midfield. His close control is excellent and the more he plays, the more his confidence will grow.
Equally vital is the return of Paul Ifill. Without him, the Phoenix lack a player to cast uncertainty into the minds of opposition defenders and look a far more one-dimensional side. With him alongside the tireless Chris Greenacre in the attacking third, the goals will surely begin to flow again.
As things stand, there’s nothing for it but to keep on keeping on.
The irony is the Phoenix have played well in their past two games but got no points from them and have dropped from third to seventh on the A-League ladder as a result. Newcastle, meantime were very ordinary in their loss to the Phoenix a fortnight ago (and again yesterday against Gold Coast United) but they’re third.
Even this early in the season, Friday night’s clash with Central Coast now shapes as extremely important. Another good performance and preferably all three points are what’s required to steady the ship.
It might be early in the season, but a win on Friday would make things a whole lot rosier as the Phoenix contemplate the toughest assignment in the league – a trip to Brisbane the following weekend.