Football: Herbert hails Phoenix character in win

Ricki Herbert
Ricki Herbert
A mixture of traditional Phoenix grit and a new attacking threat combined for an encouraging 3-2 win over Melbourne Heart, leaving coach Ricki Herbert optimistic in the middle of a congested festive fixture schedule.

Down 2-0 after 16 minutes at Westpac Stadium last night, the Phoenix battled back through Louis Fenton to trail 2-1 at halftime before a Jeremy Brockie brace gave them their fourth win of the season.

It was only the second time in 47 A-League matches that the Phoenix had come from behind to win and they moved to sixth place on the table after 13 games.

Herbert described the performance as one of the best in the club's six-year history.

He said 19-year-old Fenton and fellow teen Tyler Boyd, who turns 18 in two days, had been outstanding while the return of creative midfielder Dani Sanchez from injury had also been pivotal.

But even more important was the fight back.

"The character's never left this team - you can play all the fancy football and different styles in the world, but this club's got some good pedigree around that," Herbert said.

"It's served us in good stead in the past and will serve us well in the future. That was an important thing for me tonight, that character came to the fore in abundance when we needed it to, and the performance came as well."

The Phoenix will need every scrap of resilience in the coming weeks, with games in Brisbane on New Year's Day and at Melbourne Victory four days later.

Brisbane are two points and two places behind the Phoenix on the A-League ladder, after downing second-placed Adelaide United 1-0 at Hindmarsh Stadium on Boxing Day.