Goals from talisman Paul Ifill and midfielder Nicky Ward gave the Wellington Phoenix a deserved 2-0 win over defending Hyundai A-League champions Brisbane Roar at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin tonight.
Goals from talisman Paul Ifill and midfielder Nick Ward gave the Wellington Phoenix a deserved 2-0 win over defending Hyundai A-League champions Brisbane Roar at Forsyth Barr Stadium in Dunedin tonight.
Ifill-s superbly taken goal in the 26th minute made him the Phoenix- leading goalscorer on 22, one ahead of Shane Smeltz.
Receiving the ball from Ward, Ifill twisted and turned his way past a defender before firing in a strong shot that took a deflection and looped away from Roar goalkeeper Michael Theoklitos.
Ifill said he was delighted to become the club-s record scorer but paid tribute to the man he overtook.
“Smeltzy is a top-class striker and it has taken me a while to pass him, but it feels great because I-ve never held a record before,”
Ward-s goal in the closing minutes came when he beat the Brisbane offside trap and raced away to slip the ball past Theoklitos.
For Ricki Herbert it was the kind of night all coaches dream about.
Herbert devised the tactics he thought could upset the Roar and his players carried them out to perfection.
From goalkeeper Tony Warner, through young defender Brent Griffiths, who was thrown into the unfamiliar left back role,, to Chris Greenacre, who was making his 50th consecutive appearance for the Phoenix, everyone stepped up to the plate.
Herbert said he felt his team got most things right tonight and was proud of them.
“We got a 5-1 hiding from Brisbane at this stadium in a pre-season game and it was nice to turn it around,” Herbert said.
“We learnt from that loss and worked out how to play against them as I think we showed in taking a point at Suncorp a few weeks ago.
“We set out stall out but it needed total application and the players worked hard to give me what I was asking for.”
Herbert said getting Ifill back from injury had played a big part in his team-s recent results.
“Paul gives us that bit of an outlet up front with his pace and that was why I pushed up there,” Herbert said.
Unfortunately, with an away game at Melbourne Victory on Sunday, Ifill limped off with a strain late in the game.
“I-d have to say that Paul is doubtful for the Victory game, but we will give him every chance to come right.”
Herbert was just as pleased with the clean sheet as scoring two quality goals.
”Our back four has been tremendous,” he said.
“Dura (captain Andrew Durante) and Siggy (Ben Sigmund) have been in great form and Manny Muscat never lets you down.
“Brent Griffiths came in and did a solid job. He is going to be a very good player.
“Brisbane are a very good side and play at a good tempo so you need to do everything right to beat them.”
The Phoenix's next home game is against the Newcastle Jets on Friday December 23, 7.30pm kick off.
Wellington Phoenix 2, Brisbane Roar 0. HT: 1-0.