A POTENTIALLY record-beating run of unbeaten home games has come to an end, with Wellington Phoenix beaten 1-0 by Sydney FC.
The Phoenix blew a slew of chances to make the Hyundai A-League record of unbeaten home games their own – Steve Corica-s first-half penalty ending the home streak of 14 games at their “home away from home”, FMG Stadium in Palmerston North.
Going into the match without several key players, the Phoenix gave Sydney FC a torrid time. They should have gone ahead early on when Tim Brown failed to nail a shot into an otherwise open goal but it was Corica-s penalty that proved decisive after Alex Brosque was bundled over in the box by Phoenix defender Jon McKain with time almost up in the first half.
A win or draw against one of the Hyundai A-League-s leading teams would have seen the Phoenix secure the sole competition record for consecutive unbeaten games at home – a record they now share with Sydney FC in the meantime. But writing the club-s name in the competition record book alongside Sydney was scant consolation for Phoenix head coach Ricki Herbert.
“That was a game we should – at the very least – have got something from. We created plenty of chances but just lacked that clinical attitude to finish them off.”
The Phoenix had a gilt-edged opportunity to get something from the match when Sydney FC defender Simon Colosimo was marched for a clumsy challenge late in the match, but the home side couldn-t convert the numerical advantage into a goal.
“It was pretty clear that they had decided to shut up shop and hold on to their lead,” said Herbert. “We threw plenty at them but we just couldn-t crack their defence. The guys never stopped plugging away and the endeavour was excellent, on another day we might have nailed two, three, maybe more.
“But that-s the way things go sometimes. It-s disappointing but we-re showing plenty of endeavour and I-m extremely confident we can make a real push for the playoffs in the next couple of months.”
The Phoenix-s cause against Sydney wasn-t helped by the loss of World Cup hero goalkeeper Mark Paston to injury and the suspensions of All Whites teammate Ben Sigmund and Malta international Manny Muscat.
“The guys we brought in had ample opportunity to impress and for the most part that-s exactly what they did,” said Herbert. “Young Reece Crowther was very good in goal and Troy Hearfield again proved his talent and versatility at fullback.
“The issue was in the front third – converting the excellent chances we had into goals.”
The Phoenix-s next match is away to Adelaide United on Friday.