A fantastic 40-metre strike by midfielder Tim Brown capped a free-flowing display by the Wellington Phoenix as they beat Sydney FC 2-1 at Wellington’s Westpac Stadium tonight.
Brown’s effort, in the 60th minute gave the Phoenix a 2-0 lead and the breathing space to hold off a determined comeback by Sydney in the closing minutes.
Paul Ifill, starting for the first time since being injured in round two, had given the Phoenix an eighth minute lead when he fastened on to a lovely flighted pass from fullback Tony Lochhead and slipped the ball past former Wellington keeper Liam Reddy.
The Phoenix attacked down both flanks with Leo Bertos in particular back to his best form and causing problems for the Sydney defence.
The only worry for coach Ricki Herbert at halftime was that his team hadn’t capitalised on the several scoring opportunities that had been created.
It was much the same story in the second spell and Herbert, along with the majority of the 6380-strong crowd, breathed a sigh of relief when Brown sent the ball sailing over Reddy’s head.
Ifill said when Brown shot “I wondered what he was doing. Then I saw Liam’s face and knew he was beaten.
Brown said he was delighted it went in. “You get a bit of stick when you try something like that and it doesn’t come off,” he said with a laugh.
Herbert described the win as convincing and said he was delighted for the players.
“We’ve been playing well in most games without perhaps getting the results we deserved,” he said.
“It was good to get Paul (Ifill) back because he is massive for us and capable of changing a game. You could see how pleased he was to be back out there after his time out.
“We needed him to stand up and be counted and he did.
“Sydney is always a good scalp to get and while we made it more difficult than it should have been by conceding late on (a 70th minute goal by Bruno Cazarine), we got there.”
Wellington Phoenix 2 (Paul Ifill, Tim Brown), Sydney FC 1 (Bruno Cazarine). HT: 1-0.