Phoenix need `some class' in transfer time
TONY SMITH AND SAM WORTHINGTON
Former All Whites captain Danny Hay has urged the Wellington Phoenix to recruit "some class" in this month's transfer window to bolster their A-League title chances.
Ricki Herbert's men continued their woeful away record with a 2-0 defeat at lowly Adelaide United on Friday night.
They are now in fifth place.
Hay said the Phoenix had "righted the ship with a number of dominant performances in recent weeks" before the Adelaide reverse and "will make the [top-six] playoffs, of that there is no doubt".
However, the former Leeds United English premiership player warned in his newspaper column yesterday that the Phoenix's away form was "still so scratchy that it's tough to envisage them being able to mount a serious challenge on the title unless their playoff matches are in Wellington".
"Inconsistency and lack of quality plagues many of the other sides in the A-League so, should the Phoenix bolster their squad with some class in this January window, then the Nix may just be capable of going on a run that ensures they have that all-important home-ground advantage come playoff time."
The Phoenix, which are yet to win in Australia this season, again played plenty of good football on the road, but paid the price for not taking their chances as goals to Bruce Djite and Antony Golec proved decisive for the hosts.
The defeat means Wellington have a losing record as they move beyond the halfway point of the 27-game season, with five wins, three draws and six losses. The Phoenix remain fifth on the ladder with 18 points.
However, they have played two more games than the sixth-placed Melbourne Victory (16 points).
The visitors certainly made the more confident start as the match kicked off in 33 degrees Celsius heat.
Tony Lochhead, who was prominent down the left of the field in his return from a groin injury, shot wide in the third minute, and then Chris Greenacre forced a sharp save from Eugene Galekovic after quarter of an hour.
However, Adelaide emerged unscathed and Djite's fine record against the Phoenix continued when he escaped the attentions of Andrew Durante and ran onto a deft pass from Dario Vidosic.
From a tricky angle, Djite fired a fierce shot past Tony Warner to open the scoring in the 17th minute and brought a crowd of just under 10,000 into the match.
Tim Brown should have equalised before halftime but he did not get enough on his glancing header from a pinpoint Daniel free kick and was denied by the post.
Warner had kept the visitors' hopes alive with two excellent saves and made another quality save from a Vidosic free kick.
However, converted left back Golec was unmarked and on hand to pounce on the rebound and bang in his first A-League goal.
The Phoenix have returned home for two games at Westpac Stadium – Sydney FC on Wednesday and Perth Glory on Sunday. They will fancy their chances at home but hopes of a breakthrough title remain a distant dream until they start winning in Australia.
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