Led by ex-Perth Glory striker Eugene Dadi who netted two quality goals on debut, the Phoenix controlled much of proceedings in the front half to notch up their sixth win of the season and put themselves right in contention for a spot in the final six.
The Phoenix started the more positive of the teams in a match that featured the debut of former Perth Glory striker Eugene Dadi, the first home game of former Brisbane keeper Liam Reddy and Roar midfielder Matt McKay’s 100th A-League appearance.
Just before the ten-minute mark, Reddy was called on to make a brilliant save after Roar’s Reinaldo took on the Phoenix defence before playing in Sergio van Dijk but the Dutchman’s shot was well-navigated by the former Roar gloveman.
The visitors were doing well on the counter after Wellington were getting the ball into the penalty area regularly but their forwards could not do much to trouble Reddy who clearly had an understanding of how his ex-teammates played and was getting in the perfect positions to stop any shots on goal.
In the 26th minute, Wellington’s Manny Muscat sent a pinpoint left-footed cross into the area and vice-captain Tim Brown was in the right place at the right time to nod home from close range and give his side the lead.
About ten minutes later, the home side should have been two goals to the good when Paul Ifill won the ball in the area then turned his defender inside out but his close range shot somehow found its way over the crossbar – it was a goal he really should have scored.
The Roar were dominating possession in the early stages of the second term but could not pressure the Phoenix on the scoreboard and they only found themselves two goals down when new recruit Dadi scored with a stunning overhead volley. The Ivorian got on the end of an Andrew Durante header which came from Leo Bertos’ corner and spectacularly sent the ball home.
Six minutes later, it was 3-0 thanks to more great work from Bertos who chipped the ball to the back post where Ifill was lurking and he managed to cut it back into the centre of the area with a neat left-footed volley where Dadi was on hand to turn the ball past Griffin McMaster with great technique and reaction time for his second goal in his first appearance in Wellington colours.
With twenty minutes remaining, Matt McKay took a great touch and weaved his way through heavy traffic before unleashing a low shot but Reddy again dealt with it well and kept the possibility of a clean sheet in front of home fans alive.
Dadi was magnetic with everything coming through him in the front third and he almost set up a fourth goal for the home side when he worked Brown into a dangerous spot but the midfielder could not add a second for the match as he let his left-foot shot fly over the crossbar.
Late in the piece, the Roar managed a consolation goal when van Dijk turned outside the area and let fly with a shot that bounced in off the near post, giving Reddy no chance. It was van Dijk’s 12th goal of the season and basically ended all other action for the night.
The Phoenix would be delighted with the result as it now has them placed right among the top teams whilst the Roar will rue their poor performance which sees them drop to seventh with teams below them yet to play this round.