Jeremy Brockie came back to haunt his old side with a brace, as the Phoenix turned their form on their head to thump the Jets in Newcastle
|By MARK HUGHES
Wellington Phoenix striker Jeremy Brockie has heaped misery on his former club with two goals in his side's 3-0 win over the Newcastle Jets at Hunter Stadium on Sunday afternoon.
Brockie was let go by the Jets at the end of last season and he made the Newcastle club rue that decision when he scored in the 44th and 81st minutes to put the Phoenix two goals ahead after the Jets had dominated possession and territory but were unable to convert in the final third due to outstanding defending from the visitors.
Paul Ifill sealed the gritty victory with a penalty three minutes before full-time.
To rub salt into the wound the Jets had in-form goalkeeper Mark Birighitti stretchered from the field with a suspected broken cheekbone mid-way through the second half when he clashed with Brockie while making a smothering save.
The win sees the Phoenix move from the foot of the A-League ladder and into sixth place on eight points.
The first 30 minutes was a dour struggle as the Jets had the better of possession but couldn't break down a well-organised Phoenix defence, with Andrew Durante and Ben Sigmund tightly marking Newcastle marquee striker Emile Heskey.
The first real chance on goal came in the 33rd minute when Paul Ifill sent a dangerous cross into the box, where Wellington midfielder Alex Smith leapt high only to head just wide of the target.
That clicked the Jets into gear and they pushed hard for the opener. Scott Neville forced a sharp save from Mark Paston with a crisp shot from the edge of the area and Heskey stabbed a shot in a goal-mouth scramble before Tony Lochhead cleared.
A lovely through-ball from James Brown put Griffiths in front of goal but Paston was able to beat the Jets striker to the ball.
Just as it seemed the Jets would crack the Phoenix defence it was the visitors who opened the scoring right on the stroke of half-time. Paul Ifill floated a cross to the back post where Brockie had enough time to steady and slot the ball past Birighitti into the net for a 1-0 lead at the break.
The Jets came out with more venom in the second half and launched a number of promising attacking raids, only for the Phoenix defence to hold firm.
Jets coach Gary van Egmond brought on Adam Taggart for James Virgili in the 58th minute with Taggert going to the left wing and Ryan Griffiths moving to the right flank, while Ricky Herbert brought on striker Benjamin Totori for Louis Fenton in the Phoenix line-up.
It was Griffiths who seemed to benefit when he turned his man and fired a solid left-foot shot from 25 metres out that Paston gathered on the second attempt.
The Jets were dealt a body blow in the 65th minute when Birighitti was stretchered off the field after he collected a knee to the face when bravely diving to smother shot from Brockie, who had slipped past defender Josh Brillante and sped into the box.
Wellington went two goals ahead when Brockie took advantage of a skewed clearance attempt by Jets defender Tiago Calvano, lobbing an angled header over Nash and into the far corner of the net for a 2-0 lead in the 81st minute.
Van Egmond had his last roll of the dice, bringing on Michael Bridges for James Brown a minute later but it was the Phoenix who would have the last say when Josh Mitchell brought down Totori after the substitute striker had sped clear from the midfield.
Ifill made no mistake from the spot, sending Nash the wrong way to seal their second win of the season.