Roy Krishna stars for Phoenix in pre-season game
IAN ANDERSON IN TAUPO
Roy Krishna won bragging rights over his team-mates - and his competition for a starting spot - with a hat-trick for the Wellington Phoenix in Taupo today.
Krishna netted three times as the Phoenix defeated a New Zealand Select XI 3-2 at Owen Delany Park in a pre-season match for the A-League side.
With a number of his team-mates like Jeremy Brockie and Tyler Boyd turning out for the opposition, Krishna took his chance to impress coach Ernie Merrick with three well-taken strikes, including a scrambled winner in added time.
Brockie and Michael McGlinchey replied for the NZ side, coached by All Whites assistant Neil Emblen, as they came from 2-0 down in the second spell to level before succumbing in the final minute.
Krishna opened the scoring in the fourth minute when he pounced on a Michael Boxall error with ruthless efficiency.
Intercepting Boxall's mishit square ball near halfway, he sprinted away and with defenders closing and stabbed a delicate chip on the run over a stranded Glen Moss from 25 metres that nestled into the back of the net.
It appeared Brockie had levelled matters 10 minutes later when he side-footed home at the back post after Boyd whipped in a cross when being found out right by Andre de Jong, but the linesman's flag ruled it out.
Krishna doubled Wellington's lead when he was picked out by a delightful ball over the top from Alex Rufer and he poked his shot past the advancing Moss in the 18th minute.
Brockie continued to go close at the other end and hit the crossbar with a header in the 25th minute before being denied from the penalty spot three minutes later.
Referee Martin Neale ruled Josh Brindell-South had brought down Joel Stevens as he cut into the box, but Lewis Italiano sprung to his right and with a strong left wrist palmed Brockie's spot-kick over the bar.
Brockie finally found the net 13 minutes into the second spell with a sharp finish from a byline cut-back and as Merrick rang the changes for the Phoenix, the NZ side began to dictate terms.
McGlinchey is still unable to play for the Phoenix due to the ongoing transfer wrangle with his former club - the Central Coast Mariners - but produced a useful 90 minutes against his likely team-mates and scored the equaliser in the 70th minute from Louis Fenton's low cross.
"The special thing is that today we scored five goals," a smiling Merrick said. "It showed what Roy is capable of - we just haven't got the best out of him yet in an A-League game, but he's doing everything that's asked of him.
"When the ball's played through to him he's a good finisher. He proved that today and it was really good for his confidence."
How well will the Phoenix do in this year's A-League?