Wellington Phoenix coach Ricki Herbert didn’t have much to smile about as his team was beaten 3-2 by Melbourne Victory at Etihad Stadium last night to continue a poor record in the Victorian capital.
The Phoenix were strangely off-key in a disappointing first half that saw them frequently exposed by Victory’s slick passing, and they went in at halftime 0-2 down with Marco Rojas and Marcos Flores scoring for the home side.
Rojas added another early in the second spell to extend the Victory’s lead before a change of personnel saw the Phoenix storm back into the game with two superb goals from Jeremy Brockie, the first a contender for goal of the season.
The goals were a welcome relief for Brockie who netted 18 times in pre-season but went into last night’s game looking for his first Phoenix A-League goal.
The Phoenix’s revival came after Herbert introduced 17-year-old Tyler Boyd and Solomons Island international Benji Totori midway through the second spell.
Boyd replaced Paul Ifill, while Totori took over from Stein Huysmegens who was struggling with an ankle injury sustained in a heavy tackle early in the game.
The pair added pace and endeavour to what had been a struggling Phoenix unit and Herbert was pleased with their efforts and gave him something positive to take from a disappointing night.
“They certainly made a difference when they went on,” Herbert said.
“Along with Vince Lia (who replaced Louis Fenton) they added something that had been missing in the first 60 minutes.
“I was disappointed with some hesitant defending in the first half and you can’t give teams a three goal start on their home ground.
“It’s a tough period for us with four out of five games away from home but we have to just get on with it and perform better than we did in those first 60 minutes.”