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PAUL IFILL believes the Wellington Phoenix have relied on their home form too long and need to start performing like a “regular football team”.
The Phoenix’s staggering two-year unbeaten run at Westpac Stadium came to a shuddering halt on Wednesday night, the hosts outclassed 4-1 by Brisbane Roar. The loss snapped a 24-game streak at the Phoenix’s fortress dating back to October 2008.
Ricki Herbert’s men had become accustomed to picking up points at the Ring of Fire while points on the road have been much harder to come by. With the Phoenix taking on Perth Glory in Perth on Sunday, Ifill hopes the midweek loss to the Roar might have a silver lining now that the pressure of maintaining the Phoenix’s record home run is over.
“We’ve been relying on our home form for far too long and it’s about time that we became a regular football team, winning and losing games home and away just as everybody else does.
“I can only hope the positive to come out of Wednesday night’s game is that it’ll be a blessing in disguise and we can be the sort of team that performs no matter where we go
“We can’t get beaten like that again, especially in our own backyard. We’re better than that
“It’s kind of surreal. I’ve never had that feeling because I’ve never had a loss at home. It’s been really weird, actually. But season have turning points. Sometimes it’s a win, sometimes it’s a loss. Sometimes you need a kick up the backside and that might have been it on Wednesday night.”
While the Hyundai A-League-leading Roar were impressive at Westpac Stadium, the Phoenix only looked good in patches during the game. An inability to put together 90 minutes of good football has cost the Phoenix dearly so far this season. While there is still a long way to go in the season, Ifill believes the every member of the Phoenix needs to lift now
“We’re still confident we can turn the corner,” said Ifill. “We haven’t been outfought much but we were pretty poor in the second half against the Roar all over the park. Teams are getting in too easily. I’m not putting the blame on the defence here, it’s all of us. It seems we have to fight for every little chance we get and the chances are coming too easily for the opposing teams.
“That needs to be looked at from front to back. It’s a collective thing and it needs to be looked at by all of us. We need to stand up and be counted. You can only talk so much – you’ve got to go out and do it on the pitch and at the moment that’s not happening. ”
For his own part, Ifill feels he is starting to regain the sort of form that made him one of the Hyundai A-League’s most dangerous players last season.
“In the first half against Adelaide (week 11) and even on Wednesday night I felt pretty sharp. Then, lo and behold, we’ve let in seven goals in two games. It’s not an individual game, we need to do it collectively and get together.
“I think that’s what has been lacking a bit these last few games, what made us so good last season. We might not have been the best team in the league but we were the most together team in the league, and we rolled teams over because of our fighting spirit.”
That spirit will need to be to the fore on Sunday against the Glory, who, like the Phoenix, will be desperate to get back on the winning side of the ledger.
“If we go to Perth this weekend and win then people will forget about that loss and home and we’ll be right back in it,” said Ifill. “It’s nothing that one win on the road won’t cure. But again, I don’t want to be sitting here next week saying ‘we’ve lost on the road, we’re slipping away and we still don’t know the answer’. Hopefully the answer will come on Sunday.”