The Wellington Phoenix turned on the style in beating Newcastle Jets 4-1 at Westpac Stadium on Sunday and no-one shone brighter than striker Nathan Burns.
Burns, who in this type of form will surely soon shed the adjective from “former Socceroo”, netted a double and displayed impressive unselfishness when he set up the Phoenix’ third goal for Michael McGlinchey.
No Phoenix player has ever scored an A-League hat-trick and when through on goal with only keeper Mark Birighitti to beat in the 68th minute he slipped the ball across goal for McGlinchey to tap in rather than go for goal himself.
Was he tempted to take Birighitti on and write his name into Phoenix fokelore?
“Of course there was temptation,” a smiling Burns said.
“But it is about what is best for the team and the best thing was to set up Mikey.
“It doesn’t matter who scores as long as you are playing a role in it.
“I’m sure the club’s first hat-trick will come this season. If we keep playing the way we are it will happen.”
It was an entertaining, solid performance from the home side and coach Ernie Merrick was impressed.
“It was good entertainment for the fans but there was substance behind it,” Merrick said.
“I was impressed we didn’t sit back when we were 2-0 up and wanted to press for more goals.
“It was disappointing to concede a late goal but we bounced back to get another right on full time.
“I thought the boys played really good football and there wasn’t a bad player on the park.”
All four Phoenix goals were scored from close in and that also pleased Merrick.
“We have been working hard on getting players into goal-scoring positions so it isn’t something that has happened overnight,” he said.
Burns opened the scoring in the fourth minute after being set up by Jeremy Brockie and added the second three minutes before halftime, forcing the ball over the line while lying on the ground after Birighitti had blocked his first effort.
McGlinchey added the third goal before captain Andrew Durante completed the scoring with a firm header after Alex Rodriguez delivered a lovely free-kick.
Wellington Phoenix: Glen Moss, Manny Muscat, Andrew Durante, Ben Sigmund, Tom Doyle (Louis Fenton 71m), Albert Riera, Roly Bonevacia, Alex Rodriguez, Nathan Burns, Michael McGlinchey (Kenny Cunningham 79m), Jeremy Brockie (Vince Lia 62m).