Football: Lucky goal hands Phoenix win

Jeremy Brockie of the Phoenix is congratulated on his goal by teammates Stein Huysegems and Tony...
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

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