Nathan Burns surely cemented his place in the Socceroos squad for next month’s Asian Cup with two superb goals as the Wellington Phoenix continued to shrug off their penchant for travel sickness...
Nathan Burns surely cemented his place in the Socceroos squad for next month’s Asian Cup with two superb goals as the Wellington Phoenix continued to shrug off their penchant for travel sickness with a deserved 2-0 win over Sydney FC at Allianz Stadium on Sunday evening.
Burns scored in the 73rd and 81st minutes to silence14,672 boisterous Sydney fans who had expected their team’s usual victory against the Wellington side on their side of the Tasman.
Wellington coach Ernie Merrick had impressed upon his charges that it was time to step up and perform on the road against a team above it on the Hyundai A-League table and they did just that.
The first half didn’t go exactly to Merrick’s planning with the home side having a slight edge and the best goal scoring chances, though the Phoenix were robbed off the chance to take the lead when a shocking offside decision by an assistant referee ruled Roy Krishna offside when he was almost a metre on side.
With the match scoreless at half time Merrick made a couple of subtle changes and his team took control in the second spell to run out deserved winners.
“Things weren’t going to plan in the first half because our midfield was sitting back a little too much,” Merrick said.
“It was perhaps because of the intimidation factor of being against Sydney away from home in front of a hostile crowd.
“Fortunately our back four was rock solid, as was our goalkeeper Glen Moss.
“We rode our luck a little bit and they had their chances, but so did we when an offside decision went against us wrongly.
“At halftime we reorganised our midfield and pushed forward a bit more with Roly (Bonevacia) closer to Mikey (McGlinchey) and I think we controlled the midfield in the second half.
“We were strong in the closing stages because we have a very fit set of players who turned in a very strong second half performance.”
Despite Wellington taking the ascendancy in the second spell the game was still scoreless till a moment of magic in the 73rd minute from Burns paved the way for victory and three points that took the Phoenix into fourth spot on the ladder.
Controlling a long ball into the penalty area, Burns turned Pedj Bojic inside out, hurdled a sliding tackle from Seb Ryall and slammed a left foot shot into the net at the near post.
Burns added the second, and 10th of the season, eight minutes later when set up by the quicksilver feet of playmaker Michael McGlinchey.
Wellington Phoenix: Glen Moss, Louis Fenton (Michael Boxall 85m), Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante, Tom Doyle, Albert Riera, Alex Rodriguez, Roly Bonevacia, Michael McGlinchey, Nathan Burns (Kenny Cunningham 94m), Roy Krishna (Jeremy Brockie (91m).