WELLINGTON Phoenix delivered six of the best in style at Westpac Stadium on Sunday afternoon to send high-flying Gold Coast United back to the Glitter Strip suffering a good old-fashioned caning.
After all the drawing done by the Phoenix this season it was just a matter of time before they remembered how to colour in. They did that in emphatic and destructive style to notch just their second Hyundai A-League win of the season and, more importantly, end a sequence of six draws.
Four goals in 11 minutes shortly after halftime secured three vital competition points for the Phoenix and in the process extended their unbeaten run at home to 11 games.
Before a healthy holiday weekend crowd of 6571 the Phoenix were magnificent, finally being rewarded for the degree of dominance they have shown for much of the season but, until now, had been unable to convert. They left the field to a standing ovation.
The home side started the brighter, with two opportunities falling Paul Ifill-s way – a right-foot strike just swerving beyond Gold Coast keeper Jess van Strattan-s left post in the second minute. The front man then made a bustling run on goal but couldn-t find the final touch to trouble van Strattan.
Ifill continued to trouble the Gold Coast defence and played a key hand in the opening goal by Daniel in the 28th minute. After being put through to the visitors- byline by defender Tony Lochhead, Ifill sent a low cross that was stabbed home at the near post by the Brazilian.
Only the crossbar prevented the Phoenix doubling their lead 10 minutes before the interval, defender Ben Sigmund-s powerful header from a Leo Bertos corner beating van Strattan but not the woodwork.
The Westpac Stadium roof almost lifted three minutes into the second half when the Phoenix went 2-0 up. A pinpoint through ball from Ifill near halfway found midfielder Tim Brown in space and in front of goal with only replacement goalkeeper Scott Higgins to beat. Higgins advanced out of his area but was easily rounded by Brown who made sure he found nothing but net.
Daniel bagged his second – and the Phoenix-s third – in the 53rd minute after Ifill completed a hat-trick of assists and found him with a measured pass and unmarked in front of goal.
Striker Chris Greenacre deservedly returned to the scoresheet for the first time since August a minute later when he got the better of Gold Coast defender Michael Thwaite and rounded Higgins to slide the ball home and make it 4-0.
The rout continued just before the hour mark when Ifill turned on his left inside the penalty area and drilled his shot past a hapless Higgins. Hometown supporters had to start counting with their other hand when replacement Troy Hearfield was on hand to beat the keeper from close range in the 82nd minute and complete the scoring.
The win not only lifted the Phoenix in the competition standings to mid-table but improved their goal difference from minus-two goals at the start of the round to plus-four.
As far as mid-season shots in the arm go there was no better boost than the one provided as the Phoenix eye their next match, away to Sydney FC next Sunday, with great confidence.