It's only a matter of time before the Wellington Phoenix truly hit their straps and punish the opposition. Whether that happens at Westpac Stadium on Sunday, when the Phoenix take on the Central Coast Mariners in a Hyundai A-League 2009/10 round eight showdown, remains to be seen, but Phoenix vice-captain Tim Brown is adamant it will happen sooner rather than later.
The ball hasn't bounced the Phoenix's way in recent times, the Wellington outfit unlucky to play out three 1-1 draws in as many matches - the most recent coming as a result of heartbreaking goal late in injury time to the North Queensland Fury.
Brown said the draw with the Fury had been gutting but the result had steeled the resolve of the Phoenix to put the opposition away after dominating matches.
"It was so frustrating that we found ourselves in that situation, copping a goal in a match where we'd done everything bar finishing them off and getting the three points. But we've bounced back very quickly and the belief remains very, very strong that we're a very good side and that it's only a matter of time before we start getting goods results and climbing up the ladder."
The result against the Fury was indicative of the Phoenix's bad luck in the early part of the season to date, though Brown felt the Phoenix's fortunes were well overdue to change.
"I believe we're due to really put a team to the sword. I haven't felt this good about the state of the club since I've been here - and I mean that in all honesty - and that's to do with the quality of the players we have here. Sure, you can talk about bad luck, but that sort of thing tends to even itself out and if we can keep playing as well as we have been then things will start turning in our favour."
The conversion of excellent goalscoring opportunities has been a bugbear for the Phoenix, with several gilt-edged chances spurned in the past three matches.
"I've been given the license to get into the box and I think I've got something to offer there," said Brown. "I've had a number of opportunities where I should have scored and I'm disappointed that I haven't scored as many as I might have. But I firmly believe things will change not only for me but for some of the other guys as well.
"It's a credit to the players that have been brought to the club that our ambitions are so much higher than what they've been in the past two seasons. Anything less than being up near the top of the table will be a disappointment for us but we need to start converting the dominance we've had in matches into wins. Nothing less than beating the Mariners will be acceptable this weekend."
The Central Coast club, perennially written off by pundits, has consistently exceeded expectations since the inception of the Hyundai A-League. The Gosford boys have started season 2009/10 strongly, most recently hammering competition frontrunners Gold Coast United 3-0.
"I've got a great deal of respect for the Central Coast in terms of what they've achieved," said Brown. "They don't have any big names or flashy style but they consistently achieve through a combination of determination and quality that they get a lack of respect for.
"They're always physical and in that respect we probably share that quality with them, so it'll make for a very combustible game of football on Sunday. Hopefully we can get in there and get a result."
An attacking mentality will again be to the fore at Westpac Stadium.
"The way we're playing is the best I've seen from the club," said Brown, a foundation member of the Phoenix. "There's a real genuine belief that we can go out and make some waves this season with the quality of the guys we have up front - guys such as Leo Bertos, Paul Ifill, Chris Greenacre, Adrian Caceres and Daniel."
Ifill's potential involvement in the game will be assessed at the Phoenix's final training session on the eve of Sunday's game. The Briton strained a hamstring against the Fury and is doubtful as a starter. Daniel will definitely miss the match after returning to Brazil for the birth of his second child, meaning former Mariner Caceres could start against his old club.