It was the reverse of the famous Field of Dreams saying that “if you build it they will come” as the Wellington Phoenix beat Adelaide United 4-2 in front of 13,654 fans at Westpac Stadium on Friday night.
This time it was the fans who came first and the Phoenix players who provided the foundation to build on with a scintillating performance that had their fans roaring them on throughout the 90 minutes.
The star of the show was undoubtedly Fijian talisman Roy Krishna who was playing his third game in six days in three different countries.
Phoenix coach Ernie Merrick gave Krishna the option of starting on the bench but thankfully he declined and said he wanted to be in the thick of things from the start.
Had he taken the easy option the night could have turned out differently when Craig Goodwin stunned the home crowd by giving Adelaide the lead in the third minute.
Thanks to Krishna’s speed and determination the Phoenix were back on level terms within 60 seconds as the Fijian flyer out-muscled the far bigger Osama Malik and slotted the ball into the far corner of the net.
Krishna got the man-of-the-match vote but Roly Bonevacia must have run him close with a dominant performance behind the strikers and it was the Dutch star who put Phoenix ahead with a well-taken goal in the 22nd minute.
The best was yet to come from Bonevacia and in the 51st minute he scored a contender for goal of the season with a superb 28-metre drive that Adelaide goalkeeper John Hall could only stand and admire.
Substitute Matthew Ridenton made it 4-118 minutes later and while Pablo Sanchez headed Adelaide’s second goal in the final minute it was nothing more than a consolation for the visitors.
Merrick described it as a good all-round performance from his team.
“We were solid at the back, our midfield was dominant and up front we clicked with Roy high, Roly in behind with a lot more freedom and Blake (Powell) on the right,” he said.
“Jeffery Sarpong also played well and was unlucky not to score.
“There was a lot of flair and creativity about us but also a lot of substance.”
Asked if the club’s licence problems had motivated the players to turn in such a performance answered in the negative.
“The motivation came from that terrific crowd,” he said.
“With thirteen and a half thousand people roaring you on it really lifts a team.”
In an all-round team effort Merrick had special praise for Krishna and Bonevacia.
“Roy was terrific considering the travelling and playing he has done and Roly was also outstanding,” the coach said.
“His was a terrific goal, one of the best I’ve seen.
“I was just saying to Chris Greenacre ‘I hope he’s not going to shoot from there’, and finished with ‘great goal’.
“The challenge now is for us to play like that on a regular basis.”
At a glance:
Hyundai A-League Round 6: Phoenix v Adelaide, Friday 13 November, 7.30pm at Westpac Stadium, Wellington
Wellington Phoenix 4 (Krishna 4’, Bonevacia 22’ 51’, Ridenton 68’)
Adelaide United 2 (Goodwin 3’, Pablo Sánchez 89’)