Sydney a tantalising challenge

MOST teams would be trembling at the prospects of facing a red-hot Sydney FC outfit but Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert reckons the big challenge his side faces at home this weekend could be just what they need to get their Hyundai A-League 2008/09 season going.

The Phoenix look ahead to Sunday-s match against Sydney knowing that everyone in the team has to turn around a slow start to the season, characterised by a disappointing 1-0 loss to Perth Glory tonight.

“We-ve got to bounce back from this,” Herbert said. “We-re at home to Sydney this weekend and we-ve got to get things back on track because if we play like that against a team like Sydney we-ll get punished.

“But facing a team like that probably just what we need to make sure we-re doing what we have to right across the park and that no one is left in any uncertain terms as to what is required of them.

“We need a big shift in application and commitment and everyone has to lift against Sydney.”

There was plenty on tonight-s match for both teams in the Western Australian capital but it was the Glory who were able to get their first ever win against the Phoenix courtesy of Eugene Dadi-s 78th-minute penalty after the Ivorian was brought down in the box by Jon McKain.

With Herbert signalling his side-s intent to attack against the Glory, the coach was left to rue a lack of decisiveness up front.

“It-s disappointing. We had one or two chances but not enough. There wasn-t enough decision-making in the front third – we needed to be more direct and we did very little with the ball.”

While things weren-t clicking up front, the Phoenix-s back four was stoic, snuffing out the Glory-s attacks.

“I thought we were very good at the back and were able to shut things down pretty well,” Herbert said. “They put their bodies on the line but unfortunately we gifted them a goal from a mistake.”

The Phoenix-s next match, against Sydney FC, kicks off at 5pm at Westpac Stadium this Sunday.

Perth Glory 1 (Eugene Dadi 78-(pen))
Wellington Phoenix 0

Members Equity Stadium, Perth
Sunday 21 September 2008
Referee: Strebre Delovski
Assistant Referees: Michael Nugus & Joe Fusari
Fourth Official: Steven Gregory

Crowd: 4,433

Perth Glory line-up: 1.Jason PETKOVIC (gk), 2.Nikolai TOPOR-STANLEY, 3.David TARKA, 4.Jamie COYNE (Captain), 5.Jamie HARNWELL, 8.James ROBINSON, 11.Scott BULLOCH, 13.Nikita RUKAVYTSYA (9.Adrian TRINIDAD 73-), 14.Eugene DADI, 16.Adriano PELLEGRINO, 22.Wayne SRHOJ (19.Naum SEKULOVSKI 64-).

Substitutes Not Used: 27.Stuart McLAREN, 30.Tando VELAPHI (gk).
Yellow Cards: Jamie Harnwell 14-, Nikolai Topor-Stanley 63-.
Red Cards: Nil

Wellington Phoenix line-up: 20.Glen MOSS (gk), 3.Tony LOCHHEAD, 4.Jon McKAIN, 9.Shane SMELTZ, 10.Michael FERRANTE, 11.DANIEL, 12.Richard JOHNSON (6.Tim BROWN 85-), 13.Troy HEARFIELD (15.Adam KWASNIK 71-), 16.David MULLIGAN (18.Ben SIGMUND 86-), 21.Leilei GAO, 22.Andrew DURANTE (captain).

Substitutes Not Used: 1.Mark PASTON (gk).
Yellow Cards: Richard Johnson 28-, Tony Lochhead 44-, Jon McKain 78-.
Red Cards: Nil