Jeremy Brockie's struck in somewhat fortunate circumstances to seal a 1-0 win for Wellington Phoenix against Western Sydney Wanderers
|By EMMA STONEY
Jeremy Brockie's sixth goal of the season was enough to secure a 1-0 win for Wellington Phoenix against Western Sydney Wanderers on Sunday.
No-one could accuse the Phoenix striker of scoring dull goals and his 22nd-minute effort was another one to add to the highlights reel.
Admittedly Wellington's notorious wind played its part as Brockie's curling ball into the box drifted in the strong breeze and that was enough to wrong-foot Wanderers goalkeeper Ante Covic by some margin.
But the Westpac Stadium hosts always looked the more likely to score and Brockie, Alex Smith and Stein Huysegems all had chances to increase the lead.
Despite all Western Sydney's endeavour, they created few chances in the front third and didn't even get a shot on goal in the first half.
The Phoenix's win, just their second at home this season, stretched their unbeaten run in the A-League to three games and lifted them into the top six.
The Wanderers though have now lost five matches this season and need their luck to turn.
They had two penalty shouts – one in each half – which were turned down. The first when the ball struck Andrew Durante on the elbow. The second when Joe Gibbs went down in the box under a heavy challenge from Ben Sigmund.
Wellington were worthy of their half-time lead but there was a large element of luck in the goal that turned out to be the winner.
But when you are on a hot streak – as Brockie is with six in five games – the bounce of the ball seems to go your way. In this case it was the curl of the ball in the strong wind as Brockie appeared to be aiming for the far post with a cross only for it to deviate at the last moment.
The flight deceived Covic, who was wrong-footed then slipped as he tried to recover, and the dejected keeper could only watch as the ball went into his net.
Covic was far more sure as he punched a Tony Lochhead cross clear a few minutes later and he then got his finger tips to Smith's well struck, goal-bound free-kick.
At the other end Mark Paston was not called on to make a save in the first half as the Wanderers, who missed livewire midfielder Aaron Mooy, continued to struggle up front.
Shinji Ono was industrious, as were Mark Bridge and Tahj Minniecon, but the visitors failed to get a shot on goal in the opening 45 minutes.
Things did not improve much in the second spell either. Jerome Polenz's wild strike in the 58th minute summed up the frustration as did Bridge firing another attempt straight into Ono 10 minutes from time.
Brockie could have doubled his tally in the 62nd minute but he could only head Smith's pinpoint cross to the far post straight at Covic.
Smith then fired wide before Vince Lia blasted another shot over which was quickly followed by Huysegems, back in the starting line-up after recovering from an ankle injury, doing the same.
But the Phoenix continued to press hard for a second and in the dying moments Covic was forced into another save, this time by Paul Ifill.