A first-half strike from Jeremy Brockie helped Wellington Phoenix climb off the bottom of the A-League ladder with a 1-0 win over fellow strugglers Perth Glory in Auckland
|By GREIG JOHNSTON
Wellington Phoenix have lifted themselves off the bottom of the A-League table with a hard-fought 1-0 win over Perth Glory at Eden Park in Auckland on Saturday.
In the end a goal from Jeremy Brockie four minutes before half-time - his ninth for the season - was all that separated the two sides after a scrappy, but always keenly contested, encounter.
The initial stages were played in a style befitting the teams occupying the bottom two rungs on the A-League ladder, with class and chances in short supply.
It took 10 minutes for the first opportunity of note, with Glory's Adrian Zahra finding space on the right and whipping in a ball for stand-in skipper Travis Dodd, who could only find the side-netting.
Nine minutes later, it was Perth's turn to defend when a lovely turn and back-heel in the box from Leo Bertos played in Paul Ifill, but he blazed his effort high and wide.
The Glory did not take long to get on the offensive, with Nick Ward launching a superb long-range pass to young striker Chris Harold, who blew past Manny Muscat but could only poke his effort just wide of Mark Paston's upright.
The Phoenix were the better side in the closing stages of the half, with Stein Huysegems firing a volley wide after an Ian Hogg cross while Brockie also missed the target after some good work on the right from Isaka Cernak.
Wellington were coming on, and they went in front after 41 minutes thanks to some nice work again from Ifill.
He played in a tantalising cross, with Brockie drifting in behind Jack Clisby before heading past Danny Vukovic to give his side a 1-0 lead at the interval.
Taking the lead gave the Phoenix a shot of confidence, and they emerged from the break looking to extend their advantage, but both sides were struggling to create meaningful chances.
Just before the hour mark, Zahra's shot took a deflection off Andrew Durante, but landed safely in the arms of Paston, and the 'keeper had to be on guard moments later when Clisby's long-rage effort also took a diversion off a Phoenix defender.
Substitute Louis Fenton had a chance in the 70th minute, but the youngster's left-foot strike flew well wide of Vukovic's post.
Steven McGarry and Liam Miller combined well for the Glory a minute later, and the latter should have done better with his shot from the edge of the box, which failed to test Paston.
Perth began pouring on the pressure in the closing stages, but it was Ifill who went closest to scoring when he beat a couple of Glory defenders and almost curled a shot past Vukovic, but his effort was inches wide.
With Vukovic going forward in the hope of an equaliser, the Phoenix could have made sure of the points in stoppage time when Cernak fired from distance toward an unguarded goal, but it was cleared off the line.
Phoenix held on to post their first win in six matches, leapfrogging Perth into ninth spot while the men from the west are languishing at the foot of the table.