Jeremy Brockie of the Phoenix is congratulated on his goal
by teammates Stein Huysegems and Tony Lochhead. (Photo by
Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
It's funny what a football coach sees.
After the Wellington Phoenix beat the Western Sydney
Wanderers 1-0 at Westpac Stadium today, in a game that was
only close on the scoreboard, it was interesting to hear what
the respective coaches had to say.
Phoenix mentor Ricki Herbert felt his team were far better -
which they were - while Wanderers boss Tony Popovic believed
his men were unlucky to leave the capital empty-handed.
A Jeremy Brockie goal in the 21st minute was all that
separated the teams on the score sheet but the Wanderers
didn't offer a lot and they've still only scored five goals
in nine games this season.
Brockie's strike - his sixth of the year - came about via an
error from Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic who misjudged
Brockie's speculative cross in the strong wind and the
37-year-old then lost his footing as he watched the ball sail
past him and in to the goal.
Popovic was disappointed his side weren't awarded a penalty
and they had two legitimate claims - one in each half - as
the ball struck Andrew Durante's arm in the opening spell,
while forward Joey Gibbs appeared to be fouled in the box in
the second stanza.
"It's a tough place to come to. Take nothing away from them
but we conceded a bizarre goal, something you don't usually
and that happens in football and it was a close game. One we
certainly felt we didn't deserve to lose," Popovic said.
"So we go away a little bit disappointed and you don't want
to bring up the officiating but how we don't get a penalty
today is really beyond me. The games are tight, those things
change games. So I'm disappointed on that front. Disappointed
we probably didn't create a little bit more and didn't have
that rub of the green, I suppose."
Herbert said his team were beginning to come together and are
now unbeaten during their past three games.
"I'm not sure it was close," Herbert said. "I think with the
chances we had we probably could've been out of sight very
quickly. But if you look at their record, they've scored
five, don't score a lot, hard resolute team to play against
and defensively very solid.
"I think it's slowly coming together, long way to go but
probably should've been a little bit more comfortable tonight
but we got the one that's going to count."
Covic's clanger was behind Brockie's goal but the big
custodian did make two sharp saves in the game to deny Alex
Smith from a free kick and a Brockie header that was
goal-bound to keep the visitors in the game.
As the season progresses the Phoenix would hope to blow out
teams like the Wanderers, particularly at home, but they need
to be more accurate in the front third.
The result lifted the Phoenix back in to the top six on the
A-League ladder and it confirmed they've pulled out of their
mini-slump when they lost three games straight between late
October and early November.
The Phoenix's next outing is on Sunday when they host the
under-performing Sydney FC at Westpac Stadium.
Wellington beat Alessandro Del Piero's Sydney during the
opening weekend of the season 2-0.
Wellington Phoenix 1 (Jeremy Brockie 21) Western Sydney
Wanderers 0 HT: 1-0
- Daniel Richardson of APNZ