Football: Phoenix pick up vital home win

Mark Paston of the Phoenix shows his disappointment after conceding a goal during his team's A...
Mark Paston of the Phoenix shows his disappointment after conceding a goal during his team's A-League match against the Melbourne Heart at Westpac Stadium in Wellington. (Photo by Hagen Hopkins/Getty Images)
Mark this one down as a character-building exercise for the Wellington Phoenix.

Down 2-0 after 16 minutes, the Phoenix battled back to register a resilient 3-2 win over the Melbourne Heart at Westpac Stadium tonight.

The result should give their A-League campaign the shot in the arm that it so desperately needs after they went the past three games without a win.

At times it was ugly - particularly in the opening spell - but you can't deny the Phoenix showed ticker when they so easily could've dropped their lip.

Striker Jeremy Brockie has a funny habit of drifting in and out of games but he found the perfect time to put his mark on this outing as his two second-half goals gave the Phoenix the edge.

Having come back out for the second spell 2-1 down, the Phoenix had the better of the second 45 minute stanza but looked for long periods like they wouldn't be able to find the killer blow.

Few teams put as many balls in to the penalty area from the flanks as the Phoenix but it finally paid off when yet another ball in to the box saw Louis Fenton earn a penalty in the 66th minute and Brockie made no mistake with his spot kick.

With the momentum and a vocal home crowd of 6410 behind them the Phoenix continued to press and Brockie nailed the go-ahead goal in bizarre fashion in the 71st minute.

As a Dani Sanchez strike was deflected from long range, Brockie was first to pounce on the loose ball and the All White tucked it in to the corner of Clint Bolton's net.

The upshot was the Phoenix were given a lead they would never relinquish, which will have left coach Ricki Herbert a relieved man.

The opening 45 minutes provided plenty of entertainment as the Heart opened the scoring with two early goals in the space of as many minutes and four players were shown yellow cards.

Firstly, Golgol Mebrahtu directed a gorgeous free kick in to the back of Mark Paston's net after Phoenix skipper Andrew Durante had given away a foul at the top of the box in the 14th minute.

The Heart then added to Durante's misery as a David Williams ball across the face of penalty area struck Durante's foot and wrong-footed Paston and found it's way in to the Phoenix's goal only two minutes later.

The Durante own goal sparked the Phoenix in to life as they surged during a busy period that was capped off when Fenton pulled one back for the home side.

Vince Lia won the ball deep in Heart territory and managed to flick the ball on to Fenton who buried his second goal of the A-League season and left Heart goalkeeper Bolton with no chance.

Despite a flurry of chances at both ends neither side could land a killer punch and they went to the break with the Heart ahead 2-1.

From there it was left to Brockie's goals in the second spell and the Phoenix's next game comes on New Year's day when they meet the Roar in Brisbane.

Wellington Phoenix 3 (Louis Fenton 21, Jeremy Brockie pen 66, 71) Melbourne Heart 2 (Golgol Mebrahtu 14, Andrew Durante og 16) HT: 1-2

- Daniel Richardson of APNZ

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