Wellington Phoenix moved to the top of the A-League table for the first time this season after a Roy Krishna double helped the New Zealand side to a 2-1 win over Perth Glory at nib Stadium on Saturday night.
Krishna scored either side of a super strike from Glory’s Ruben Zadkovich to help the Phoenix to their third consecutive win and edge two points clear of Melbourne Victory in the competition standings.
The victory brought an end to Perth’s run of 16 consecutive rounds at the summit of the league and the club could find itself as low as fourth on Sunday if Sydney FC triumph over Brisbane Roar.
WHAT THEY SAID
“I thought we started off extremely well and played some really football, then we kind of dropped away, then we picked up again. When you score goals like Roy did it makes life easier and we just hung on there at the end.” - Wellington Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick
0-1 Roy Krishna (23’)
Glory defender Josh Risdon had a moment he would rather forget when he attempted to clear Louis Fenton’s low cross from the right, only to smack it straight into a charging Krishna and see it rebound into the exposed goal.
1-1 Ruben Zadkovich (29’)
The veteran midfielder made the most of his first starting appearance in four weeks with a stunning strike from 28 yards. A running Zadkovich was set up perfectly by team-mate Dragan Paljic and sent the ball flying past Phoenix goalkeeper Glen Moss, off the left post and into the back of the net, to equalise for the home side.
1-2 Roy Krishna (78’)
The Fijian-born winger held up Glory defender Scott Jamieson on the corner of the penalty box before turning him inside out and threading his second of the match with a perfectly placed left-foot strike inside Danny Vukovic's near post.
Glory striker Andy Keogh looked set to put his side ahead in the 77th minute when he brushed off Wellington pair Ben Sigmund and Michael Boxall and charged towards goal. But Phoenix goalkeeper Moss closed the gap to deny the Irishman and the visitors took the ball up the pitch and Krishna scored the winner less than a minute later.
OPTA DATA STATS
Wellington had not tasted victory in their last five matches against Perth prior to Saturday night’s match.
Ben Sigmund took his place in Wellington’s starting XI and played out the match despite struggling with a hip injury during the week. Fellow defender Michael Boxall, who had also been in doubt with a calf injury, came off the bench in the 69th minute.
The last time Wellington were in Perth, Glory midfielder Ruben Zadkovich lasted just 17 seconds before he was given his marching orders for a crude challenge on Phoenix’s Vince Lia. The former Newcastle captain redeemed his horrific brain fade from round seven and rewarded Glory coach Kenny Lowe for throwing him into the starting line-up for the first time in a month with an inspiring performance, including a memorable first goal for the club.
THE FINAL WORD
The possibility of a New Zealand team winning the A-League is as strong as ever and Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick was all smiles after his side’s empathic win in Perth. An impressive win on the road without star striker Nathan Burns will provide a further confidence boost for the flying Phoenix ahead of next Sunday’s away clash with Brisbane.
Glory coach Lowe needs to find a way to help his side discover that winning feeling. Perth remain winless form their last eight matches and have not tasted victory since January 2. Lowe has a full squad available, aside from winger Youssouf Hersi, so there are sure to be changes in a bid to recapture the form that had Perth on top of the A-League for 16 consecutive rounds.
Perth Glory: Danny Vukovic (GK), Rostyn Griffiths (Richard Garcia 83’), Dino Djulbic, Ruben Zadkovich, Andy Keogh, Nebojsa Marinkovic, Josh Risdon, Daniel De Silva, Scott Jamieson, Michael Thwaite (C), Dragan Paljic (Jamie Maclaren 64’)
Wellington Phoenix: Glen Moss (GK), Manny Muscat (Michael Boxall 69’), Joel Griffiths (Jason Hicks 72’), Roly Bonevacia, Michael McGlinchey (Tom Doyle 81’), Albert Riera, Louis Fenton, Vince Lia, Ben Sigmund, Roy Krishna, Andrew Durante (C)
Scorers: Roy Krishna (23’), Ruben Zadkovich (29’), Roy Krishna (78’)
Red cards: Nil
Yellow cards: Nil
Conditions: 23C, humid
Attendance: 9178 @ nib Stadiumcomments