Wellington Phoenix have notched up their first win in three matches, defeating Melbourne Heart 2-0 at Westpac Stadium. The home side were served well by Paul Ifill who netted his first goals since October 9 with a second-half brace to inflict a third-consecutive defeat on the Heart.
Wellington moved temporarily to seventh, replacing Newcastle Jets, and going equal on points with sixth-placed Melbourne Victory while the Heart remained fifth but have the lower half of the table chasing them hard.
Both sides were searching for a win on a sunny afternoon in Wellington after two losses each in a row and it was the home side who had the best chances early in the piece.
The Phoenix looked in the mood early with the likes of Paul Ifill, Daniel and Tim Brown getting into dangerous positions and their reward almost came in the 19th minute when Heart skipper Matt Thompson came up with a horrible error when he attempted to pass back to keeper Clint Bolton but could only manage a toe-poke which Ifill lashed goalwards but the visiting gloveman was able to snuff out the chance.
The Heart wasted a couple of chances before half-time through Alex Terra and Wayne Srhoj and in the second term, Phoenix keeper Mark Paston made two top-class saves from first Terra then from Gerald Sibon to keep his side in the game.
GOAL Finally, the deadlock was broken just after the hour-mark when Ifill struck for the home side before the Heart's job was made all the much harder when skipper Matt Thompson was sent off for a second bookable offence in the 70th minute.
GOAL In the 74th minute, Ifill made it 2-0 when he received a pass from Brown, rounded Aziz Behich and slotted past Clint Bolton to essentially wrap up proceedings.
Bolton made a late save to deny the Barbadian his hat-trick but he wouldn't have minded as the Phoenix broke a two-game losing streak.
WP Mark Paston (gk), Jade North, Ben Sigmund, Andrew Durante, Troy Hearfield, Tim Brown, Manny Muscat, Vince Lia, Leo Bertos (Rojas 90+2'), Paul Ifill (Greenacre 90+3'), Daniel (Ward 72')
Subs - Danny Vukovic (gk), Nick Ward (72'), Marco Rojas (90+2'), Chris Greenacre (90+3')
MH Clint Bolton (gk), Michael Marrone, Matt Thompson, Michael Beauchamp, Aziz Behich, Josip Skoko (Kalmar 76'), Gerald Sibon (Hamill 76'), Warne Srhoj, Adrian Zahra, Alex Terra (Taseski 76'), Jason Hoffman
Subs - Peter Zois (gk), Brendan Hamill (76'), Kliment Taseski (76'), Nick Kalmar (76')