The Wellington Phoenix are still within touching distance of
the A-League playoffs but they need to pick up some points in
a hurry after they were drilled 5-0 by the Central Coast
Mariners in Gosford last night.
After beating Perth 1-0 in Auckland last weekend, the Phoenix
had hopes of sparking their ailing campaign after a
mid-season slump saw them plumb the depths of the bottom of
The victory over Perth meant they were somehow only one point
outside of the top six heading in to tonight's trip across
the Tasman but the heavy loss will not have helped their
Wellington were without a handful of players for tonight's
game, including the injured Leo Bertos and Tony Lochhead,
while Ben Sigmund was unavailable through suspension.
It meant that Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert had to reshuffle
his back line and move Manny Muscat out of the midfield in to
right back, while Ian Hogg was given another chance to prove
himself on the left side of defence.
Michael Boxall was given a rare opportunity to have a gallop
at centre back and Hogg was given a tough examination by
Mariners striker Bernie Ibini, who relentlessly ran at the
rookie who was playing only his second A-League game.
Ibini was the first to get his name on the score sheet after
a Mariners cross rebounded off Hogg's head in to goalkeeper
Mark Paston and fell at the feet of the Mariners frontman who
gladly gave the home side the advantage on the half-hour
Only seconds earlier, New Zealand international Michael
McGlinchey had a decent shout for a penalty but his cries for
a spot kick were correctly waved away by the officials.
The Phoenix had looked like they would leak a goal at some
stage and were probably lucky to head to the half-time split
only down 1-0, although Jeremy Brockie did have a header
cleared off the line from a corner.
In the early stages of the second spell Wellington held their
own but rarely threatened the Mariners who have a rock solid
defence built around veterans Patrick Zwaanswijk and Pedj
As the second half pushed on you got the impression the
Mariners would make the game safe at some point and skipper
John Hutchinson got a rare goal when he was left unmarked at
the back post on the follow-up possession from a corner in
the 65th minute.
As the Phoenix dropped their heads, experienced frontman
Daniel McBreen grabbed his 15th goal of the season, which
killed off any hopes of a Phoenix come back with 21 minutes
Ibini then added his second in the final stages, while
Mitchell Duke also scored, which capped another awful night
in Australia for the Wellingtonians.
Brockie picked up his fifth yellow card of the season during
the second half and will miss the away trip to the Brisbane
Roar on February 17.
The Mariners kept their remarkable record up on their home
field this season and they've now won eight from nine at
Bluetongue Stadium in Gosford, with their only blip being a
The league-leaders are unbeaten in 2013 and will be a tough
ask for any team that dares to take them on in the playoffs.
Central Coast Mariners 5 (Bernie Ibini 30, 87, John
Hutchinson 65, Daniel McBreen 69, Mitchell Duke 89),
Wellington Phoenix 0 HT: 1-0
- Daniel Richardson of APNZ