Brave Phoenix fight to the end
WELLINGTON Phoenix FC’s brave charge to the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 playoffs has been snuffed out by the Melbourne Victory, 2-0 winners in Melbourne on Friday night.
WELLINGTON Phoenix FC-s brave charge to the Hyundai A-League 2008/09 playoffs has been snuffed out by the Melbourne Victory, 2-0 winners in Melbourne on Friday night.
Needing a win to have a shot at making the top four, the Phoenix-s chances were served a blow by a dodgy first-half penalty and ended by Archie Thompson-s opportunistic late second half strike in a game the visitors dominated throughout.
With a piece of competition history on the line, the Victory toughed it out at the Telstra Dome to deny the New Zealand-based club a place in the playoffs and did their own chances of winning the Premiers- Plate a power of good.
Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert, while disappointed with the result in Melbourne, said he was pleased by the effort and application shown by his men.
“We clearly went into the game with a winning mindset and we showed for the entire match that we were Melbourne-s equal and, in many aspects, even better. We were very, very good, we gave it our best shot, but in the end we didn-t get what set out to achieve.”
Herbert said he was thrilled by the performance of his team throughout a tough and demanding second Hyundai A-League campaign for the club.
“It-s a cruel game, sometimes, as we saw against Melbourne, but I-m very proud of the guys. The game is in very good heart in New Zealand and it is amazing how well respected we are as a club in Australia.
“We-ve shown we are a worthy and creditable part of the competition and the game is in amazingly good heart here. We-ve proven we are an integral part of the Hyundai A-League and that has to continue.”
The Phoenix can finish no lower than sixth on the competition ladder after the final round, meaning an Australian-based club will take the wooden spoon for the first time in competition history.
Still, that comes as small consolation to Herbert, who has already begun planning in earnest for next season.
“We-ve got one step to go, and that-s to make the top six next season,” he said, referring to the addition of two new clubs for the 2009/10 term. “We-ve shown that we can stir this competition up but the key for us next season is going to be consistency. That-s our big challenge.”